Ypsilanti to remain member of Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti Chamber of Commerce following narrow vote
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
Four council members voted against the resolution Tuesday and three-- Brian Robb, Susan Moeller and Pete Murdock-- were in favor of it.
Murdock brought forth the resolution in an effort to condemn the policies held by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which openly supported the right-to-work legislation. The A2Y chamber is a member of the Michigan Chamber.
"The issue with the chamber, whether its national or state or local, it's kind of a distinction without difference," Murdock said. "The chamber has been particularly active in several political groups affiliated with the state legislature that did all those nice things last week."
Murdock said the chamber has "consistently taken" positions contrary to the people he represents.
Specifically, Murdock said he believes the Michigan Chamber of Commerce supported passage of right-to-work legislation, opposed increasing minimum wage, supported the elimination of personal property tax and opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Earlier this month, the Michigan Legislature approved bills that would make Michigan the 24th state with a right-to-work law that prohibits unions from collecting dues or fees from workers as a condition of employment.
Murdock said if council were to pass the resolution, the city still would have been able to work the chamber and events such as Ypsi Pride, which A2Y helps to organize, would still go on.
A2Y Chamber vice president of government relations Andy LaBarre and A2Y Executive Board Chair Tom Harrison attended the meeting to address the city's concerns.
"We are separate organizations," LaBarre said. "We are separately governed and separate on policy stances. Some of what was said here refers to national efforts that the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti chamber has no reason to weigh in on. We did not contribute to PACs and did not have a PAC of our own."
Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson said she feels as if Ypsilanti no longer has a chamber, citing the move of the weekly Tuesday morning breakfasts the chamber once held in Ypsilanti. The breakfasts are now in Ann Arbor.
"Do we have input on what the chamber supports or what they do or are we just paying money and going to the Tuesday morning breakfast?" Richardson said. "I just really feel like Ypsilanti doesn’t have a chamber."
Richardson further implored the chamber representatives to share exactly what their position was on the recent passage of the right to work legislation and other controversial legislation as well.
"We took no position," LaBarre said. "We remained neutral."
Council member Susan Moeller said she felt that by having no particular stance, the chamber in a way supported the measure.
"By being silent, its as if they were supporting it," Moeller said. "If you're against it, you should be able to stand up."
Murdock said he believes that if the chamber's thoughts are different from that of the Michigan Chamber, they should reach out and voice it.
"It should come from those people, not us," he said.
Harrison said he believes that since the chambers combined, more work than ever has been done in the Ypsilanti community.
"We are more active now," he said. "We're bringing in a lot of Ann Arbor people that wouldn't be here... We listen to our chamber members."