Governor Jennifer Granholm : Granholm salutes Michigan workersPublished 3:25pm Friday, September 4, 2009
On Monday, as Lt. Governor John Cherry walks in Detroit’s Labor Day parade, my family and I will be doing the traditional walk across the Mackinac Bridge with thousands of other Michigan citizens. The Mackinac Bridge is an apt symbol for Labor Day, because unionized workers helped to build it, particularly the Iron Workers.
While Labor Day honors all American workers, the holiday’s roots are in the labor movement. The first Labor Day was in 1882 when 10,000 union workers in New York marched to celebrate gains made in the workplace.
Many gains made by organized labor throughout the years are now enjoyed by all workers. They’ve become accepted norms, like the 8-hour work day and 40-hour work week, paid holidays, safe and healthy workplaces.
In Michigan, the labor movement helped to create a strong and prosperous middle class. But tough economic times and the loss of hundreds of thousands of good-paying manufacturing jobs are jeopardizing that middle class standard of living.
My administration has been taking strong measures to get Michigan back on track. Almost 90,000 people now have enrolled in our No Worker Left Behind program to train for jobs in high-demand fields, and we continue to build on Michigan’s manufacturing strengths to transform our state into a center for renewable energy and generate thousands of new green jobs.
We’ve succeeded in attracting to Michigan the leaders in advanced-battery development and manufacturing. Battery companies will soon be building facilities in Midland, Holland and the Detroit area, creating thousands of jobs. General Motors is constructing a battery-pack manufacturing facility in southeastern Michigan as well to electrify the vehicle.
General Electric is locating an advanced technology and training center in western Wayne County, producing another 1,200 jobs. And we’re close to finalizing a plan to redevelop Ford Motor Company’s former Wixom plant into a renewable energy park that could create up to 4,000 jobs.
Renewable energy reduces our dependence on foreign oil. But for our nation to be truly energy independent, we need to manufacture everything we need here, not overseas. Things like advanced batteries, wind turbines and solar panels. And where better to do that than in Michigan with our skilled workers, our engineering expertise and our manufacturing capacity?
This Labor Day, as I walk with thousands of others across the Mackinac Bridge, I’ll reflect on how the bridge symbolizes the skill and strength and determination and the resilience of Michigan workers. We’ll continue working hard to bring new investment and new jobs to our state. Better days lie ahead for Michigan workers, and we are on our way.
The governor’s weekly radio address is released each Friday morning and may be heard on broadcast stations across the state. The address is available on the governor’s Web site at www.michigan.gov/gov for download. The radio address is also available as a podcast on the Web site, as well as on iTunes and via RSS feed for general distribution to personal MP3 players and home computers.
Governor Jennifer Granholm, D, can be contacted at (517) 335-7858 or P.O. Box 30013 Lansing, Michigan 48909 The office of the governor also has a web site, www.state.mi.us/migov.