Republicans are undermining Michigan’s redistricting effort, secretary of state says

Danielle McLean

Danielle McLean Investigative Reporter, ThinkProgress

Michigan’s secretary of state on Monday accused Republican lawmakers of undermining the state’s redistricting process by using “budgeting gimmicks” and political sleight of hand to circumvent “the will of the voters.”

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D-MI) slammed proposals by GOP-controlled legislators that would underfund a new independent redistricting commission approved by voters last November.  

Benson claimed that a Senate-approved budget “contravenes the will of the voters,” while a House-version that underfunds the redistricting effort resorts to “budgeting gimmicks.”

“Both of these approaches are unacceptable. The legislature must stop playing games with democracy and must fully fund both the Department of State and the redistricting commission,” her office told ThinkProgress in a statement.

Gerrymandering in Michigan mirrors Republican tactics across the country that seek to redraw voting precinct boundaries to GOP advantage, as the party vies to hold onto power despite losing ground at the ballot box in the state.

The last time Republicans redrew Michigan’s congressional and legislative boundaries, a U.S. Circuit Court invalidated the maneuver as unconstitutional, describing the move as gerrymandering “of historical proportions.”  The court is ordering the state to redraw the maps before the 2020 election.

Meanwhile, voters in Michigan last Novemebr overwhelmingly passed a ballot initiative that would ensure the next round of redistricting process in 2021 is done fairly. The measure would take the entire redistricting process out of the hands of partisan legislators and allow an independent commission to draw the lines. But the GOP-controlled legislature is trying to underfund the commission in a bid to undermine the intent of the new law, critics say.

The move by the legislature “defies the will of the 2.5 million Michiganders who amended the state Constitution specifically to take redistricting out of the hands of politicians and [who] placed it with an independent citizens’ redistricting commission,” Nancy Wang, executive director of Voters Not Politicians — the group that pushed for the ballot initiative — said in a statement.

Likewise, the House version of the measure would cut the redistricting commission’s budget far less than recommended by the governor.

Kathay Feng, national redistricting director for the government watchdog organization Common Cause, said that what she described as a “power grab” by Michigan legislators is consistent with how lawmakers across the country treat the redistricting process far too often.

“Politicians in power, regardless of party, consistently fight against voter-approved initiatives to give the power of redistricting to citizen commissions,” Feng said.

“Michigan’s legislators’ blatant attempt to shift money away from the commission and to realign power back to the legislature is just the latest cynical attempt at a power grab by these politicians.”

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Reposted from ThinkProgress

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work