Michigan Senate Democrats are capitalizing on political turbulence in an effort to bring Delta Air Lines to Michigan after the Georgia Legislature punished the company for ending a special discount program for National Rifle Association (NRA) members.
In the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Fl., that left 17 dead, Delta was one of many companies that came under scrutiny for partnering with the NRA to offer certain discounts. As calls for boycotts of those companies mounted, Delta made the decision to end its contract with the NRA. It has since said it would consider the same for any other “politically divisive” group with which it does business.
Delta, headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., saw a swift response from the state legislature, which passed legislation to end a tax exemption on the jet fuel Delta uses. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal then signed that legislation.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich of Flint pounced: “With Detroit being Delta’s second-largest hub, we would be a natural fit for your new home,” he said in a letter to Delta CEO Ed Bastian.
“That’s kind of what third world country dictators do where they say they don’t like you, your policy, and they go after you,” Ananich told Great Lakes Beacon. “That is scary, and I think it’s really the wrong approach.”
More than anything, Ananich said he wanted to send a message that Michigan is not a place that believes in such punitive policies.
“Companies can internally do what they want to do when it comes to things like that (getting rid of certain promotions),” he said. “We want companies to bring those kinds of jobs here.”
The letter was signed by the entire Senate Democratic caucus.
Ananich said it’s the job of the legislature and the governor’s office to focus on enhancing good-paying jobs for citizens, and that should be of utmost importance. He said that while Michigan has more work to do in terms of better funding its public education and fixing the roads, for instance, the state does invest in workforce development programs that could be beneficial to companies like Delta.
“Obviously there’s places we’ve seen Michigan has failed … but I think we should continue working hard to get companies here,” Ananich said. “I don’t think we necessarily have to offer incentives, just show them how great of a place Michigan is to live.”
Ananich said he has been contacted by a lobbyist for Delta to have a copy of the letter and to ensure it gets to the right people in the company. He also said he has brought the letter up to Governor Rick Snyder, and he agreed on the logic behind Michigan not being a punitive state.
“I’m going to encourage my colleagues in both chambers and both parties to support it,” Ananich said.