Unions Threaten Strike As Detroit Struggles With State
DETROIT (WWJ) – Union leaders representing Detroit city workers are threatening to call for a strike if the governor and mayor insist on re-negotiating already ratified contracts.
The city’s unions are fuming over possibly losing some of their organized labor muscle in the consent agreement being worked out between the city and the state over Detroit’s finances.
Gov. Rick Snyder wants Mayor Dave Bing to reject the recently ratified contract agreements and insist on more concessions and work rule changes. And, as of yet, Bing’s administration has refused to present the ratified contracts to the Detroit City Council for approval.
Tensions were high and some unruly residents were removed from the room as council discussed the issue Monday morning.
AFSCME Local 25 President Al Garret said he has no plans to go back to the bargaining table.
“Before I would agree, on behalf of the AFSCME membership, to a concession that riddens them of our grievance procedure, without seniority rights, with no layoff language, with no just-cause standing, we’ll be on the street again, and you can rest assured on that.
“Because you know what? Even as a worker in the city of Detroit we’ve got rights. We’ve got some damn rights, people,” Garret said.
The recently ratified union contracts already include pension and health care givebacks and an additional 10-percent pay cut.
City Councilwoman Brenda Jones said reopening negotiations is disrespectful.
“Your team sat with these people for hours to bargain to get tentative agreements, and now they’re saying the hell with them,” said Jones. “That’s basically what they’re saying — the hell with them. And as far as I’m concerned, they’re saying the hell with us too.”
Deputy Mayor Kirk Lewis said, although the state isn’t satisfied, the administration still wants approval of the financial stability agreement. Then, he said, the city would follow up with the unions to reconcile any differences.
If the agreement is voted down, Snyder could be forced to appoint an emergency manager.
The city is expected to run out of money within weeks if the state does not intervene.