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    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Politics & Prejudices

Labor strikes back?

Trying an end-run on emergency managers and right-to-work laws

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

I know the one thing we did right

Was the day we started to fight

Keep your eyes on the prize

Hold on.

—Civil rights movement song


For more than a year, unions and working people have taken a pounding, ever since Rick Snyder became governor and Republican right-wing ideologues captured the Legislature.

A tough new emergency manager law sailed with ease though the Legislature; among other things, it gives such managers the power to tear up contracts negotiated in good faith, if they feel like it.

The lawmakers put strict limits on how much local governments could offer their workers in terms of health benefits, proving once again the ancient proverb that Republicans are in favor of local control ... except when they aren't. 

They went after teachers' unions, with the clear intent of making it harder for them to represent their members by forbidding payroll deduction of dues. They also seemed bizarrely obsessed with preventing a handful of graduate research assistants at the University of Michigan from forming a union.

Even that wasn't enough, however. Increasingly, legislative Republicans have been talking about passing what they call right-to-work legislation, which really has nothing to do with workers' rights and everything to do with destroying private sector unions.

They want to outlaw the "union shop," the mechanism that for decades has given labor the power to stand up to the powerful corporations by ensuring that workers can vote to make sure the entire bargaining unit is represented by the union of their choice.

Snyder, who is more intelligent and less blindly ideological than most legislative Republicans, opposed this. He told his fellow partisans that this wasn't necessary, and urged them to notice how going too far had actually backfired in Wisconsin and Ohio.

But they didn't care. The goal of these Tea Party lunatics is smashing the unions, and punishing anyone who works for the public sector by cutting their pay and benefits. They don't have much use for workers in the private sector either, though they don't say that.

Throughout all this, the Democratic Party remained mostly disgracefully silent. True, they have little or no power these days, especially in the state Senate. True, they whined and sniveled about how awful Snyder's programs were. 

But they did nothing, other than cast meaningless votes against whatever programs the right wing was shoving through. Did Democrats offer any kind of counterproposals instead?

Did they leap to defend the workers? Did the Democratic minority leaders stand up and say "we propose that instead of taxing pensions, cutting aid to education, and throwing poor kids off cash assistance we do something else?"

Such as, raise income taxes on those who can afford them?

Did they have the guts to do that? Not on your life. But now, somebody finally has: the unions. To my stunned surprise, the unions got together and came up with a proposal that could be a game-changer and merits everyone's support.

Last week, a union-friendly group called We Are the People held a press conference to announce a drive for a state constitutional amendment that would protect collective bargaining.

People had expected some effort made to ward off "right-to-work." But this goes far beyond that. Collective bargaining rights are what created the middle class in this country and made America great. This amendment would enshrine them in the state Constitution for both private sector and public sector workers alike.

The proposed amendment says: "The Legislature's exercise of its power to enact laws relative to the hours and conditions of employment shall not abridge, impair, or limit the right to collectively bargain for wages, hours and other terms of employment."

If this passes, nobody could outlaw collective bargaining or throw out contracts collectively arrived at. No matter what. 

Unlike the silly "recall Snyder" proposal, which was doomed to failure from the start, this is likely to get the 322,609 valid signatures needed to get on the ballot, since most Michigan labor unions have vowed to help collect them.

Now this is something worth fighting for. Should this get on the ballot and be approved by a majority of the citizens voting in November, it would apparently nullify several major pieces of Snyder-era legislation. The sweeping powers emergency managers now have to ignore union contracts would end. The law outlawing unions for university graduate students would be null and void. Laws aimed at weakening teacher unions would likely be invalid as well. 

Zack Pohl, the spokesman for We the People, the umbrella labor group leading the charge, said the unions were willing to spend what it needed to get the amendment on the ballot and then passed, though he wouldn't say how much. 

He did say, "We fully expect we'll have lots of enemies," who will spend heavily to try to get the public to defeat the amendment.

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