Iron Mountain Daily News. September 12, 2023.
Editorial: Check eligibility for heating credit before month’s end
Tax credits are not just for tax season, the state advises.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is partnering with the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan to encourage qualified Michigan residents to apply for the Home Heating Credit before the Sept. 30 deadline — only 18 days away.
Over the past five years, the average qualifying household received $209 in assistance, which is most often applied directly to residents’ utility bills — as is an additional automatic credit from some energy providers worth up to $20 monthly, according to the MDHHS. Additionally, state food assistance recipients receiving a Home Heating Credit of more than $20 may be eligible for increased benefits, the state advised in a news release.
“The September 30 deadline is around the corner, so please don’t wait to claim the Home Heating Credit,” MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel said. “This credit will help provide financial relief to families as we head into the fall and winter, leaving more money available for other critical needs.”
To qualify, residents must be a renter with a contracted lease or a homeowner, plus meet income requirements. The best way to apply for the Home Heating Credit — and a number of other tax credits available to Michigan residents — is through one of the state’s trusted, free tax preparation services, the MDHHS advised.
Free tax preparation is a community service designed to help Michigan residents improve their financial well-being. Residents who qualify include those with disabilities, those with limited English-speaking ability and those earning less than $60,000 annually. Tax preparation providers are trained and certified volunteers.
“The fall heating season is approaching quickly,” State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks said. “The Home Heating Credit can help with heating bills, allowing individuals and families to spend their hard-earned dollars on other necessities. Local free tax preparation can help taxpayers navigate the paperwork to receive this very important credit. Please don’t hesitate to seek out assistance if you think you’re eligible.”
Residents can connect with their local free tax preparation site by calling 211 or going online to MichiganFreeTaxHelp.org. Local human services nonprofits such as United Way and Community Action Agency can also refer community members to a free tax preparation site.
“Everyone should file a tax return, even if they’re not required,” said Luke Forrest, CEDAM executive director. “This is money they’ve earned that should be going back into their pockets and their communities.”
Detroit News. September 16, 2023.
Editorial: Oh, those awful automotive profits
Shawn Fain isn’t the first labor leader to demonize corporate profits, but he is perhaps the most disingenuous.
Fain, the rookie president of the United Auto Workers, took more than 12,000 workers out on strike Friday morning in three targeted walkouts at Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Stellantis facilities, the first time the UAW has hit all three companies at once in its 88-year history.
He led them off some of the best paying manufacturing jobs in the country with fire-and-brimstone language about the inequity of the American economic system and the evils of corporate greed, as witnessed by the record profits being posted by automakers.
“You cannot make $21 billion in profits in half a year and expect members to take a mediocre contract,” Fain said in declaring autoworkers are being treated as second-class citizens by the “billionaire” corporate executives.
President Joe Biden chimed in with the claim, “Those record profits have not been shared fairly with the workers.”
The implication from both the president of the union and the president of the United States is that autoworkers are being denied the fruits of their labor.
Reality paints a different picture.
Last year, the average Stellantis workers received a $14,760 profit sharing check thanks to a solidly profitable year for the automaker. Based on a 40-hour work week, that added about $7 to the $31.77 average hourly pay for a Stellantis production worker, or roughly an extra $280 a week.
Profit-sharing checks at General Motors ($12,750) and Ford ($9,176) were somewhat lower, but union workers at all three automakers enjoyed significant supplements to their base pay for helping their employers post fat profits. Those bonuses were uncapped in an earlier contract, so there’s no limit to how much production workers can reap as profits rise.
Add in benefits to the pay and bonuses, and the average hourly compensation to a UAW-represented autoworker is above $65 an hour.
The companies were willing to fatten that wage rate considerably this year to get a contract. Fain rejected offers of a 20% pay hike from Ford and GM and a return of Cost-of-Living Adjustments in favor of a strike.
The offer would have added more than $6 an hour to the top hourly production pay rate over the course of the contract, or more than $240 a week and more than $12,000 a year. It would have also shielded workers from seeing their pay eroded by future inflation.
This is what Fain considers to be “scraps.”
The profit-sharing checks are based, obviously, on profits. Remaining profitable requires the automakers to remain competitive. A significant increase in labor costs without a resulting hike in production will put the domestic automakers at an even greater disadvantage with their foreign competitors, whose labor costs are already $10 an hour lower.
The demands Fain has placed on the table, and so far, not backed away from, would push Detroit Three labor costs above $100 an hour and their profits to zero. That would not only result in much lower profits for the companies, but also much smaller profit-sharing checks for UAW workers.
There are some legitimate issues in play during these negotiations, including protecting workers in the industry’s transition to electric vehicles. But sharing the wealth isn’t one of them. This year’s profit-sharing checks are proof the UAW is doing quite well in that department.
Mining Journal. September 13, 2023.
Editorial: ID’ing lost military crew members a noble cause
It’s never too late to bring closure for relatives of the people who served in the military and lost their lives.
Military scientists recently identified the remains of a U.S. Army airman from Michigan who died with 10 other crew members when a bomber crashed in India after a World War II bombing raid on Japan. The airman was U.S. Army Air Forces Flight Officer Chester L. Rinke of Marquette, who will be buried at Seville, Ohio, on a date yet to be determined.
According to an Associated Press story, Rinke was the flight officer on a B-29 Superfortress when it crashed into a rice paddy on June 26, 1944. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said all crew members died instantly.
Scientists used techniques such as mitochondrial DNA to identify Rinke’s remains, the DPAA said. Seven of the 11 members were recovered within days of the crash, but Rinke’s remains, as well as those of three others, were “non-recoverable.” Additional searches of the crash site in 2014, 2018 and 2019, though, led to the discovery of wreckage and human remains.
This is the second recent case regarding someone from the Upper Peninsula who has been identified after having died in World War II.
Ensign William Finnegan, who was born in Bessemer, died on Dec. 7, 1941 in the attack on Pearl Harbor. According to the U.S. Navy, Finnegan was among 388 service members from the USS Oklahoma who were unaccounted for. Since the beginning of Project Oklahoma in 2015, 356 of those service members have been identified. Remains are identified, the U.S. Navy said, through DNA reference samples from USS Oklahoma families.
Finnegan was to have been laid to rest earlier this month in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.
The families of those who gave their lives to serving their country certainly had their memories of their fallen relatives, but sometimes, they need more tangible evidence of their service, and a place to grieve.
Having a gravesite provides a true memorial for people to remember their loved ones and their service, and in fact, for the public to honor them. Thus, we heartily applaud the efforts to use DNA and other methods to identify remains and bring them to a proper home.