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August, 2006

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Crisis Deepens in Rust Belt: Citizens Abandoned, Left to Own Devices

By Claire McClinton
Demanding the right to water in Michigan.
Demanding the right to water in Michigan.

The Hometown headlines read, "Slaying Brings Pleas for Peace" (regarding the shooting death of a five-year-old caught in crossfire) and "Girl Seven 'Critical' After Firebombing." Is this Beirut or possibly Baghdad?? No, these are stories, believe it or not, from Flint, Michigan. The erosion of good paying jobs is taking a heavy toll on the life and the quality of life of citizens here. Unfortunately, the government will not dispatch an envoy or send emergency aid to alleviate the pain and suffering.

A new Brookings Institute Report outlines in raw numbers how devastating the situation has become. Profiling the dire straits of the entire Great Lakes Region, the report notes that over 1.1 million factory jobs have been lost just since 2000! Of those profiled in the seven state areas, Michigan is the worst, where nearly one in every four factory workers lost a job between 2000 and 2005. The erosion of good paying jobs in places like Flint is not new, but the pace of these losses has escalated in recent years. For instance, the report says that since 1995, ONE in every TWO factory workers has lost jobs here.
Demanding the right to water in Michigan.

With Auto Barons such as Delphi exercising what analysts call the "nuclear option" commonly known as bankruptcy, these companies won't stop at destroying jobs, but seek to change forever Pensions and Healthcare as we know it. The escalation of violent crime, living without electricity, living without water, facing evictions and more -- the new dynamic global economy has human consequences that we cannot accept.

As we go to press, Soldiers of Solidarity, an activist rank and file organization, are mobilizing seniors, retirees, and all concerned citizens to March on Delphi Headquarters in Troy, Mich., August 11, 2006. This is the day scheduled for the Bankruptcy Judge to render a decision on whether to void union contracts with Delphi. (The Judge had already approved bonuses for Delphi Executives).

This article originated in the People's Tribune
PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, 773-486-3551, info@peoplestribune.org.
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