April Update from SOAR Director Julie Stein

New Pro-Retiree Majority in Michigan Scraps Pension Tax in Victory for Retirees

In our last (Jan/Feb) SOAR Chapter Connection Newsletter, I was excited to report to our readers that the hard work of Steelworker members and retirees helped secure a pro-worker, pro-retiree majority in the United States Senate along with a better-than-expected outcome in the United States House of Representatives, where our union-friendly allies are only slightly outnumbered in the new, 118th Congress.  

However, the most noticeable shift in legislatures that I recounted was at the state level, where more voters opted for labor-friendly state governance than at any point since 2010.  

This shift was most evident in Michigan, where our efforts and votes helped simultaneously secure the state’s first pro-retiree, pro-worker legislative majority and governor in nearly 40 years.

This swing in governance is a big deal for retirees like you and me because, in March, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill overturning the pension tax, which was signed into law by former Governor Rick Snyder in 2011. 

At the time, Whitmer was the minority leader in the state senate. She stood in solidarity with labor/retiree activists who saw the pension tax as a direct attack on the security workers had fought for and won at the bargaining table. And, it was particularly the case considering that Michigan is the 11th most union-dense state in the country.    

Upon signing the pension tax repeal, Whitmer said, “Seniors had money that was promised to them taken out of their hands. Working families who were a missed paycheck away from poverty had a lifeline pulled away. It was wrong then, and today we are making it right.”

This repeal is not the only news worth celebrating in Michigan, however. There’s a chance that by the time you read this, our allies in the state legislature might also deliver a repeal of the so-called “Right to Work” law to Governor Whitmer’s desk.   

She has long promised to sign the legislation if they do.  

Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Jess Kamm at 412-562-6961

USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor R.J. Hufnagel

For industry specific inquiries,
Call USW Communications at 412-562-2442

Mailing Address

United Steelworkers
Communications Department
60 Blvd. of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222