Is the American Dream Slipping Away?

By: Tony Tagliavia
By: Tony Tagliavia

That's the question Michigan union leaders and some Democrats are asking. Hundreds rallied at the Capitol Saturday -- they say low wages and job outsourcing are slowly elminating the American middle class.

A group of singers from a Lansing UAW post sang "Brighter Days Ahead" to the crowd.

But if the songs at Saturday's rally were optimistic, the talk about the Michigan economy was not.

"We're all going to be in trouble. My kid's not going to have a job. Your kid's not going to have a job. It's sad," one woman told us.

So hundreds of union members and Democratic politicians say the federal government needs to make a change.

"This is a fight for our way of life in this country," U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow said.

The Michigan Democrat echoes the comments of many at the rally. Stabenow says new federal policies would help the country create more jobs.

"Enforcing trade rules for businesses and workers, changing the way we fund healthcare, protecting pensions and then focusing on education and innovation," she said.

Those who endorse that idea signed their names on an enormous card -- a literal message they're sending to Washington.

"You gotta stand up for something or you'll fall for anything," union member Bob Herrick said.

The rally was billed as a nonpartisan way to send a message to Washington, but there were political messages coming out.

"The President of the United States -- the most powerful man in the world -- is too chicken to stand up to the big oil companies," Governor Jennifer Granholm told the crowd to rousing applause.

"Tell it like it is, Jennifer!" one woman shouted immediately afterward.

Much of the talk is aimed at what the federal government ought to do to improve the economy. So, what can or should the state do?

"Diversifying our economy, making a competitive business climate, making sure we have a workforce that's prepared," Granholm said in an interview after her remarks.

The politicans, union members and union leaders gathered say those changes combined with tougher trade rules could revive the flagging manufacturing industry in Michigan -- and, the economy in general.


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