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August 17, 2007

Right-to-work crowd eye ballot process to do their dirty work

Unions and members should focus on friends - but not with blind loyalty

'My heart is with the Mighty Mac' - Old-time Hardhats have their say during 50th anniversary celebration

Authentic statue marks workers' role in building Mackinac Bridge

Ingham Regional opens new heart and surgery center

Goodbye summer, hello Labor Day - Events slated in several communities

News Briefs

 

Right-to-work crowd eye ballot process to do their dirty work

By Marty Mulcahy
Managing Editor

LANSING - With a Democratic governor and a Democratic majority in the state House of Representatives, a right-to-work law wouldn't have a chance of passage these days in Michigan - right?

Wrong - because if right-to-work is going to be adopted in Michigan, the process is probably going to bypass state lawmakers. In the not-so-distant future, right-to-work proponents may intensify their efforts to point to unions as a culprit for Michigan's lousy economy, and put a pro- right-to-work measure on a statewide ballot, in an effort to severely weaken union influence in Michigan.

An article published last month by MIRS - Michigan's oldest daily capitol newsletter - said "internal polls" by a pro-RTW group show a strong 60-61 percent support for right-to-work in our state. Furthermore, the director of the limited government advocacy group called Americans for Prosperity (AFP) described the chances of moving a right-to-work bill forward as "50-50" for the 2008 ballot.

That article came a week after Republican Senate Minority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) called for "someone" to put a right-to-work question on the ballot.

A right-to-work bill has already been introduced in the state legislature.

And articles by various newspaper columnists around the state and the arch-conservative Mackinac Center for Public Policy this year have been stepping up calls for instituting a right-to-work law in Michigan. On top of that, a corporate-funded group called Union Facts has undertaken an effort to publicize union spending in an effort to sow discord among union members.

"There's no doubt about it, there's a conservative, anti-union crowd that's very serious about getting a right-to-work law passed in Michigan," said Ken Fletcher, legislative director for the Michigan AFL-CIO. "Clearly they don't have the votes in the legislature - but a strongly bankrolled effort to get petition signatures could get it on the ballot. If that happens, unions will have to do a good job of educating their members and getting them out to vote."

Under right-to-work laws, workers in a union shop can choose not to pay union dues - yet they still enjoy the benefits of union membership. Such a two-tiered set-up usually guts the clout of unions and eventually leads to their demise.

According to the AFL-CIO, the average worker in a right to work state makes about $5,333 a year less than workers in other states ($35,500 compared with $30,167). Weekly wages are $72 greater in free-bargaining states than in right to work states ($621 versus $549).

There are currently 22 right-to-work states in the U.S. Oklahoma was the most recent state to adopt a RTW law, in 2001, and it was the first state to adopt the anti-union measure since 1985. Nearly every other state that adopted right-to-work laws did so in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

The MIRS article said "presentations have been made to deep-pocketed donors" about collecting about $1.2 million that it would cost to hire the petition circulators to collect the 475,000 signatures needed to put the right-to- work question before the Michigan legislature in the form of a citizens initiative. If both chambers failed to adopt the measure, MIRS said, the issue would go before the voters.

Fletcher said while he knows of no specific polling about right to work in Michigan, he said wouldn't be surprised if a majority of our state's voters would support RTW. He said he doubted if the measure would appear on the 2008 ballot, when Democrats are expected to have a strong presence at the polls.

Americans for Prosperity Michigan Director Amy Hagerstrom told MIRS that if the right-to-work initiative were successful in Michigan - a cradle of the labor movement - it would deal unions nationwide an enormous setback.

Fletcher said that's where education becomes vital. "If right to work gets on the ballot, it's going to be enormously expensive to fight," he said. "That's why unions have to start the member education process now, explaining that the problem in Michigan isn't unions, it's the loss of the state's manufacturing base. Lowering wages and benefits is not a panacea."

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Unions and members should focus on friends - but not with blind loyalty

By Jim Marcinkowski

It was a basic tenet in PoliSci 101 at Michigan State that a country's political system is based to a large degree on its economic system. It is also true that those who participate in the election system will reap the economic bounty.

The first six years of the Bush administration, when Republicans virtually controlled the entire government, provided a unique glimpse into what the Republican Party is really all about. With unfettered control the richest received record tax relief, corporations located off shore to escape U.S. taxes, free trade agreements sent American jobs (and our standard of living) overseas, aid to higher education received the largest cuts in history, CEO and corporate profits set new record highs - and wages for everyone else stagnated.

It is beyond serious debate that the result of the enactment of pure Republican control is that the rich got richer, the poor, even poorer and our middle class working families are marked for extinction.

So how were Republicans able to wreak such havoc without having riots in the streets? Actually, it was very simple - divide and conquer. Simply put, they were able to place all the divisive social issues on the front porch, while they entered the back kitchen door and stole all of the money from the cookie jar. We were so busy with the packages on the porch that no one noticed the empty cookie jar until it was too late, the damage was done and the thieves were gone.

This was true of the Democratic Party as well as organized labor that has now become the whipping boy of the corporate elites. Knowing what we know now, the real question becomes where do we go from here?

Focus

"Labor Unions" and the "Democratic Party" are not synonymous or interchangeable terms. For too long the relationship between the two has developed into a symbiotic dependency with less than satisfying results. That needs to change if labor is going to provide the best representation for its members and if we are to avoid the demise of the middle class and unions altogether. We need to focus.

Labor must devise a singular interest above all others, the economic best interest of the working middle class. Some may call it a litmus test. So be it. The economic best interest of working families has to do with wages, health benefits, working conditions, free trade agreements and the loss of good jobs. It has nothing to do with the Second Amendment (gun control), gay rights or abortion.

All important issues to be sure, but as a Democratic candidate for congress with across the board union support, I was bombarded with questions on these latter issues at almost every meeting with union members. For their part, union members must extend their active support based simply on key economic (union) principles. Correspondingly, the Democratic Party should not expect union members to be in support of all of their candidates just because they happen to be Democrats.

Discipline

Union members are an incredible resource for candidates both in volunteers and monetary support. But unions also need to instill a political discipline on their members and the distribution of their resources. Once union leaders focus their membership on the proper economic issues, they must make sure the membership understands that that focus is indeed THE priority. It is much easier to debate the finer points of the abortion issue from the kitchen table when your house is not subject to foreclosure or the Second Amendment - if you still have paid vacation time to go hunting. The bottom line is that unions need to have the internal discipline to have their membership support ONLY those candidates that support union economic issues.

While it is true that the view of individual union members spans the range of political issues, focus and discipline must trump individual beliefs. After all, the very basis for forming unions in the first place was the common interest of its members, ALL of its members.

Loyalty

Like focus and discipline, loyalty is a key factor if we are to re-establish unions as the force behind working Americans. Union loyalty should be rewarded while any disloyalty dealt with harshly. No second chances - no "ifs," "ands," or "buts." You have one chance to do the right thing, period.
This is where it all comes together. If you are a union activist or member, support the candidate, any candidate that supports union economic issues regardless of the other issues.

If you are a union lobbyist, there is no such thing as compromise. If a city council person or state legislator is "with us on most issues," that's not good enough for union support. Either they are with us 100% or they're not with us. Not practical you say? Too bad. (My guess is that you would only have to pull support once and the message would get out). It all begins at the local level.

Consider the following: I was a member of Teamsters Local 214 in Royal Oak. When the union was organized in 2003, the city commission was controlled by Republicans. The commission voted 6-1 in favor of the union. The dissenting vote? - the now current state representative from Royal Oak, a DEMOCRAT! Fast forward to 2007 and you'll find that the Teamster's bargaining unit in Royal Oak no longer exists. Why? Because the mayor, a DEMOCRAT, lead the charge to hire a law firm to destroy it! To unions across the state, these acts should be unforgivable, but no one is holding them accountable and union political funds continue to flow into local party coffers.

We are at war!

To borrow a caption from Lou Dobbs, there is a "War on the Middle Class." The enemy is the entire Republican party, some Democrats and some union members that will place their personal political priorities over those of the union in general. Michigan, where a good part of the labor movement first took root is now considering whether we will become a right-to-work state! If we are to survive, it is time to take the fight to the streets, to demand focus and loyalty and to leave a political body count in our wake. We have an obligation to pass on to our children what we were given. As it now stands, we will become the first generation to turn over something considerably less.

(The author, a former Republican, is a retired CIA officer, county prosecutor, FBI agent, and Navy veteran who lost in his bid last year to unseat Republican Eighth District Congressman Mike Rogers).

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'My heart is with the Mighty Mac' - Old-time Hardhats have their say during 50th anniversary celebration

By Marty Mulcahy
Managing Editor

ST IGNACE - They came to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Mackinac Bridge, which in 1957 finally united Michigan's two peninsulas after four years of construction and decades of frustration over having to deal with ferry boats that were the only link between the north and the south.

They reunited with each other during several events July 27-28 - a group of tradesmen in their 70s and 80s who shared the common experience of bringing to life Michigan's greatest engineering and construction achievement - the Mighty Mac.

During their visit, never far in the background was the rock-solid, five-mile long bridge that continues to be a monument to their efforts. But this year was special: the old-time construction workers were able to re-visit with each other, and witness the unveiling of a monument in Bridge View Park in their honor - a 6-foot 3-inch bronze statue representing a Mackinac Bridge iron worker from the 1950s.

The unveiling of the statue was preceded by a 90-minute event under a tent in the park in which carpenters, operating engineers and primarily iron workers related their experiences working on the bridge. Union electricians, laborers and painters were also on hand during construction.

Several hundred were in the audience. The event culminated two days of reunions, parades and fireworks marking the bridge's golden anniversary.

During his introduction to the oral histories, Patrick "Shorty" Gleason of Iron Workers Local 25, the president of the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, said "this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you will get to meet some of the finest tradesmen in North America. I am surrounded by the best bridge-men you will ever meet."

One of them, iron worker Dick Nesgoda, said he was awestruck by the immense bridge when he first went to work on the span. "I said 'my God, what am I doing here,' " he told the audience. "It turned out to be the best experience in my life. I went on to work on six or eight other bridges, but my heart is with the Mighty Mac. I'm proud to be here with all my brothers."

It was a span than many detractors said couldn't be built, whether it was because of the deep water, the supposedly inadequate bedrock under the Straits, or the high winds and brutal winters that the area experiences. Obtaining financing for the $100 million bridge was perhaps the greatest challenge - New York financiers wondered why a bridge should be built that would only benefit hunters and a few vacationers.

The political, financial and engineering obstacles were all overcome, and groundbreaking on the $100 million bridge began in St. Ignace on May 7, 1954.

Merritt-Chapman and Scott managed the foundation work, and construction of the steel superstructure was supervised by the American Bridge Division of United States Steel Corp. Working on the construction were an estimated 3,500 bridgemen, 350 engineers and 7,500 at off-site quarries, mills and other tooling shops.

About 50 of those workers answered the call to come to the Straits region for the celebrations last month. Like many construction workers, they mostly kept their comments short and essentially let their work do the talking for them.

"Something like this was needed to bring the clan together again," said iron worker Mike Gleason, Shorty Gleason's dad. Added fellow iron worker Jim Sweeney, who said he drove the first rivet into the bridge: "It's wonderful you people showed up to honor these guys and the Mighty Mac."

The vast majority of the workers on the Mighty Mac were iron workers - and in a geographical quirk, locals 8 (formerly 783) 25, 340 all shared jurisdiction and employment at the bridge. On hand to mark the event were business mangers Jim Jorgensen (Local 8); Jim Hamric (Local 25) and Bruce Hawley (Local 340). Also present from the Iron Workers International Union were Greg Hicks and Walter Wise.

"It was a proud moment when I became a journeymen, then a business manager," said Jorgensen. "But it doesn't hold a candle to today, getting to ride over the bridge (in the parade) with my heroes. Thanks for showing us the courage and continuing the legacy of the iron workers."

Said Duane McGregor, an operating engineer, in a typically short comment: "The bridge is still up after 50 years - they said it couldn't be done, but there it is,"

Five workers died while building the bridge. Iron worker Ray Daley told the audience that "the area looks beautiful out there, but it can be a bit treacherous." He described iron workers "jumping for their lives" to go from the safety of a pier to a sinking caisson bobbing in the water. "All these men who worked on the bridge looked like school kids back then," he said. "Now we're old timers."

Iron worker Jerry Kennelly said his experience on the bridge started when he got laid off from a job in Southeast Michigan. "I had a new car in 1956, and headed north for Mackinac," he said. "The next thing I knew I was driving rivets 450 feet in the air. I wondered what the hell I was doing."

Cal Prout related one of the more humorous experiences on the bridge. He said he was a "cool kid" in 1955, and got a job on the bridge earning good money, $148 a week. At one point his foreman told him his next job was going to be banding cable at the top of one of the towers - which meant hauling a set of 50-pound tongs 552 feet to the top.

"Well, I got tired, and I dropped the tongs 552 feet into the water," Prout said. "I wasn't a cool bad-ass any more, I thought my ass was going to be fired. So I went to the foreman and said, "Jerry, I can't find those tongs anywhere."

He got away with that fib - and the story has a conclusion. "Years later, at a restaurant in Negaunee, here's a set of tongs in a case," Prout said. "I asked the owner 'where'd you get them?' He said a diver found it off the North Tower."

J.C. Stillwell is an iron worker who worked on the bridge. He owns Mama Mia Restaurant in Mackinaw City - and runs a iron worker museum. "I worked with some of the best and nicest men in the country," he said. "then I worked in the museum and met the best people from all over the world. They're gorgeous people."

After those oral accounts, with the Mackinac Bridge in the distance, those retirees stood at attention while the statue, created by artist Janice Trimpe, was unveiled to a round of applause.

Joining the festivities were Michigan Department of Transporation Director Kirk Steudle and Mackinac Bridge Authority Chairman Bill Gnodtk. The iron workers presented the authority with a framed photo of iron workers topping out the bridge.

"These men built what couldn't be built and overcame whatever Mother Nature threw at them." said Iron Workers International General Treasurer Walt Wise. "We're proud of the men who turned dreams into reality and built the Mackinac Bridge."

MICHIGAN BUILDING and Construction Trades Council President Patrick "Shorty" Gleason, at the podium, hosted a storytelling session by iron workers and other tradesmen (seated behind him) who built the Mackinac Bridge 50 years ago.

A SIX-FOOT THREE-INCH bronze figure representing an iron worker from the 1950s walks a beam in Bridge View Park in St. Ignace, with the Mackinac Bridge in the background.


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Authentic statue marks workers' role in building Mackinac Bridge

By Marty Mulcahy
Managing Editor

ST. IGNACE -Five days after the bronze iron worker statue she created was unveiled at the July 28 Mackinac Bridge 50th anniversary celebration, sculptor Janice Trimpe said she was still elated with how her work turned out and the reaction it received.

"I'm very proud of it," she said. "At the same time I'm humbled to be asked to do it, and I was humbled to see the reaction by the iron workers. It brought tears to my eyes."

A sculptor for 34 years, Trimpe has a number of bronze figures to her credit, and is known as a fast worker. She started with a clay model of the iron worker in February and had it ready in March for the Mike Petrucci at the Fine Arts Sculpture Centre foundry to make into bronze.

"I went back the day after it was unveiled and listened to some of the comments," the 64-year-old sculptor said. "I was really pleased to hear how realistic they thought it was. One guy said the boots weren't right because they didn't have a heel, and another guy told him that no, they didn't have heels because it could have caught on the grating. So it was those kind of comments that were gratifying. It was really an incredible experience."

The statue was sponsored by Iron Workers Locals 8, 25 and 340. Retired iron workers Rick (Squeegee) Whitson and Mark Morton met with Janice about 10 times, bringing authentic tools, clothing and a toolbelt to make sure they got it just right. In nice detail on the iron worker's tool belt are two spud wrenches, a sleever bar, a 12-inch crescent wrench and a 1-inch bull pin. Over his shoulder he has a rod-busters tool belt, with pliers, a wooden rule and a wire reel. He's carrying an eight-pound sledgehammer.

Whitson said he was asked to consult with Janice on the project because of his work with memorabilia on the 100th anniversary of Local 25.

"They basically asked us how to show her how to dress an iron worker from that time period," Whitson said. "We're proud iron workers, and I considered it a chance of a lifetime to honor those guys who worked on the bridge. They were tough old guys. It was a real honor for us."

Whitson added: "Janice was an excellent person to work with. The statue came out fantastic with all the detail. The reaction from the men was wonderful. There were tears in the eyes of some of the old timers."

Like many public sculptures, the iron worker was created slightly oversized at 6 foot, 3 inches. Trimpe was asked to create a "rugged" face for the figure. The bronze on the figure is only a quarter-inch thick, and it's hollow inside, "like a chocolate Easter bunny," Trimpe said. The figure is walking on an iron bean, with his back to the Mackinac Bridge. He's wearing bib overalls, two flannel shirts, a period hard hat with the ubiquitous AB (for American Bridge) on the front, and of course the authentic Red Wing boots.

At the base of the sculpture is a plaque with the name of five workers who died building the bridge.

Trimpe, whose has done statutes of the late Mayor Orville Hubbard in Dearborn and the late Wayne County Executive Ed McNamara at Metro Airport, said creating the iron worker was "the pinnacle of my career."

"If you could have felt the love that I got," she said. "The guys I talked to said 'let me shake your hand,' or 'let me give you a kiss.' You couldn't be around a more appreciative group. I'm still floating."

SCULPTOR Janice Trimpe works on the clay model of the iron worker statue that is now in Bridge View Park in St. Ignace.

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Ingham Regional opens new heart and surgery center

LANSING - The Ingham Regional Medical Center (IRMC) unveiled its $53 million Chi Heart & Surgery Center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house on Sunday, July 12 - a job performed using union construction.

The new heart and surgery center will be a four-story, 158,000 square-foot facility, connecting with the main hospital campus at 401 W. Greenlawn. In part, the expansion addresses a 50% growth in patient admissions over the past seven years. All heart and surgical services will be combined under one roof, and will allow the addition of two floors of patient rooms.

The center was named for Seong M. Chi, M.D., a pioneer in cardiac treatment, and a team member that performed mid-Michigan's first open-heart surgery at Ingham in 1966. "The Chi Heart and Surgery Center is the new home for our nationally-recognized heart program,"said Robert N. Wright, Ingham's President and CEO. "Today's dedication of this state-of-the-art medical tower is a tribute to Dr. Chi's legacy of advancing the health and well-being of the mid-Michigan community and beyond."

The Chi Heart and Surgery Center is the largest building project undertaken by Ingham since its $9 million facility expansion in 1972. The five-story tower replaces Ingham's surgery department, combining campus heart and surgery services in one location. This includes 10 new operating rooms, five cardiac catheterization labs, a new surgical intensive care unit, a larger diagnostic area, an expanded radiology department, and 30 private patient rooms.

Ingham Regional is part of McLaren Health Care, mid-Michigan's largest health care system.

"Ten years ago, one of the compelling reasons McLaren Health Care chose Ingham to become part of our healthcare system was its people," said Incarnati". "From the exceptional medical and surgical skills of Ingham's physicians, to the outstanding patient care provided by its staff and volunteers, this hospital exemplifies clinical excellence. The resources McLaren Health Care has provided for this new Center builds upon these key strengths to bring a new level of cardiac services and patient care to the capital region."

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Goodbye summer, hello Labor Day - Events slated in several communities

We don't know where the summer went, either - but as the end of August starts to loom, it's time to start thinking about Labor Day.

Building trades workers are encouraged to join with their fellow union members and celebrate Labor Day on Monday, Sept. 3. Labor Day celebrations will be held this year in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Marquette/Ishpeming and Muskegon.

Here are some of the things you might need to know about each event:

Detroit -The 2007 Detroit Labor Day Parade will start earlier than usual at 9 a.m. It will be staged as usual for the building trades along Trumbull Ave. south of Michigan Ave., proceeding along Michigan to Woodward. The earlier starting time will allow the building trades to move ahead of the other unions' line of march, which moves south along Woodward Avenue to Jefferson Avenue to the Legacy of Labor Monument in Hart Plaza.

The theme of the Detroit parade is "Unions benefit all workers."

The building trades parade lineup will start with the IBEW, followed by the Pipe Trades, the Sheet Metal Workers, Boilermakers, Bricklayers and Allied Crafts, Cement Masons/Plasterers, Laborers, Iron Workers, Painters, Roofers, Heat and Frost Insulators and Elevator Constructors.

A blood drive will be held on Labor Day in the basement of IBEW Local 58 on Abbott Street, east of Trumbull from 7-1 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome. The American Red Cross reports that they usually collect 30-40 pints of blood in this collection effort - which would be welcome this year with blood supplies running low.

The Grand Rapids United Labor Day Parade starts at 10 a.m. on Labor Day. The staging area will be in the Grand Valley parking lots (Mt. Vernon lot and Watson lot) on the south side of Fulton and Mt. Vernon Ave.,

The shuttle to take walking participants from John Ball to the staging area starts running at 7 a.m. Members wishing to drive their company vehicles, cars or motorcycles in the parade should report directly to the staging area by 7 am. After the parade there will be a hospitality tent with refreshments and entertainment.

Marquette - The annual Labor Day Festival will be in Ishpeming, southwest of Marquette. The parade will start at 11 a.m. EST on Labor Day, with a parade along Euclid Street, Main Street, Division Street and Lakeshore Drive. A picnic and program will follow at the Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum and Lake Bancroft Park on Lakeshore and Euclid Streets.

The Muskegon United Labor Day Parade will be at Pere Marquette Park on Labor Day, Sept. 3, 2007. The parade begins at 11a.m. Participants should meet at the Harbor Towne area at 9 a.m. to catch the trolley to the staging area. Following the parade will be a Solidarity Tent with food and refreshments.

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News Briefs

Kennecott Mine: not dead yet
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has again granted preliminary approval for a mining permit for the Kennecott Eagle Mining Co. to conduct nickel mining operations at the proposed Eagle Project Mine. It will also be conducting public hearings in September in West Branch and Lansing as part of the permitting process.

The Eagle Project mine proposes to produce nickel, copper and other metals from a small but rich metal sulfide deposit located about 25 miles northwest of Marquette. A $100 million investment is proposed. At the conclusion of the mining, Kennecott said it is addressing the concerns for the environmental impact on the area by proposing to backfill the mined-out areas with waste rock and gravel, and reclaim the area to its original condition.

The DEQ reversed a ruling it made in March, when they yanked a "proposed decision" to approve a permit for the mine after discovering two reports on the structural integrity of the mine were not properly made public of given the proper review. (From Michigan Construction News.com)

Marathon eyes $1 billion expansion
Marathon Petroleum Co. has its Detroit refinery at the top of its list for a $1 billion upgrade that would average 800 construction workers a day, peaking at 1,200. There would be 135 jobs added at the refinery.

Located on 200 acres in Southwest Detroit, the Heavy Oil Upgrade Project would allow it to process Canadian crude oil - which could lead to lower gasoline prices in Michigan. The project would expand the refinery's capacity to 115,000 barrels per day, from 100,000 barrels.

Marathon is also said to be considering doing the work in Minnesota and Illinois, but the Detroit location has the best proximity to Canada. The Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council has sent letters to Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Council President Kenneth Cockrel, encouraging them to support the 17-acre expansion of the refinery.

One of the main obstacles to overcome is the environmental impact of the expansion, although planners say emissions in the expanded refinery in 2011 would be lower than they were in 2004.

AFL-CIO: member unions free to back candidates
A July 3rd decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has struck down the last challenge blocking the construction of the $270 million Firekeepers Casino in Emmett Township, near Battle Creek.

To rise on a 78-acre site, the facility is to be built by the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians on property located near I-94 and 11 Mile Road. The tribe says it expects to break ground on the project this coming fall. Completion is being expected within 12 months.

Full House Resorts, Las Vegas, Nevada, has said it will be handling the facility's design and construction. The project has been opposed by a group known as the Citizens Exposing Truth About Casinos for about eight years. (From MichiganConstructionNews.com)

More schools get 'responsible'
CHICAGO (PAI) - The AFL-CIO Executive Council turned its member unions loose to make presidential primary endorsements, saying the federation "decided not to proceed with a decision process that would lead to
support for a single candidate at this time."

In a statement approved by the council on August 8 in Chicago, the day after it hosted a debate between
seven Democratic hopefuls, the federation praised all the contenders and said "trade unionists met with the next
president of the United Sates and six other candidates."

"There is no consensus," federation Political Director Karen Ackerman told reporters. She added there may
not be one until after the huge round of primaries on Feb. 5.

The council said "the candidates competing for the nomination of the Democratic Party are far
more likely to advocate positions in support of working families than are the candidates seeking the
nomination of the Republican party."

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