By Allison R. Donahue, Michigan Advance
The Michigan AFL-CIO drew up its own set of state legislative maps for the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) to consider before the panel begins crafting new U.S. House and state House and Senate district lines for the next 10 years.
Along with drawing up maps for the state House and the state Senate, the federation of labor unions also created a 237-page report disclosing details about the project’s process and analysis of each district.
“As an organization that represents hard working people of all political persuasions, we will fight to limit the undue influence of any political party to unfairly and unjustly influence the redistricting process,” said Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber. “Our maps will likely frustrate some political parties and politicians; these maps aren’t for them. It was important for us to follow the commission’s process, use their criteria and analysis and independently produce statistically fair maps, built from the feedback of the million members and retirees we represent.”
This is the first time that the MICRC is drawing districts instead of the Legislature. Voters approved in 2018 the panel composed of Democrats, Republicans and independents. The commission is constitutionally required to have its plans for new maps finalized by Nov. 1. They will be in place for the 2022 elections.
Our maps will likely frustrate some political parties and politicians; these maps aren’t for them.
– Ron Bieber, Michigan AFL-CIO president
However, due to the U.S. Census Bureau pushing back its plans to transmit new data six months late — citing the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters — that new data will now be available for Michigan on Sept. 30, rather than April 1.
The commission asked the Michigan Supreme Court for a deadline extension due to the delayed census data. However, the court denied the request last month, so the MICRC will have to rely on old data while drawing the new maps.
A spokesperson for the MICRC did not respond to a request for comment on the proposed maps from the AFL-CIO.
While creating maps, the Michigan AFL-CIO surveyed union members and their communities and held meetings with its labor councils, affiliates, local labor leaders and activists in an effort to provide insight on the MICRC’s redistricting process.Fair_Maps_Project_B-P4c
The AFL-CIO’s Fair Maps Project researched Michigan’s economic and cultural geography, commuter patterns, agricultural regions, local community organizations and recent census estimates.
The federation of labor unions started from scratch in drawing the district maps instead of relying on the current maps drawn in 2011, saying that “it is the morally right thing to do, but also more efficient given the significant population shifts throughout the state.”
Both of the AFL-CIO’s maps for the state House and Senate have a small bias toward the Republican Party.
For the House districts, the AFL-CIO’s analysis found that 56 of the 110 districts are more Republican than the statewide average and 54 of the districts are more Democratic than the statewide average. This analysis is based on a weighted average of the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, the 2018 and 2020 U.S. Senate elections, the 2018 gubernatorial election and the 2018 attorney general election.
Nineteen of the 38 state Senate districts are more Republican than the statewide average, while 19 are more Democratic than the statewide average, based on an analysis of the 2018 attorney general election.
The proposed state House map includes 12 majority-Black districts, an additional two majority-minority districts from the 2011 map and an additional two districts with a high concentration of Arab-Americans, who are considered white by the census.
The proposed state Senate map includes five majority-Black districts and one additional district in Genesee County that would be over one-third people of color.
Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Michigan Advance maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Susan Demas for questions: [email protected] Follow Michigan Advance on Facebook and Twitter.