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Detroit Water Workers Protest Contract Changes, Wage Cuts

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DETROIT (WWJ) – Members of a local union will be picketing the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department Tuesday afternoon, protesting a new contract offer that they strongly oppose.

Mike Mulholland with the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 207 said they are hoping to bring attention to cuts they feel are being forced on them.

“We’re attempting to try to get management of the Detroit Water and Sewage Department to recognize their obligation to bargain with us on our contract,” said Mulholland. “… They’re acting as if we are under the consent agreement – which we are not.”

Union issues include a new contract offer that mandates a 10 percent pay cut, a substantial increase in total health care costs, and the eliminate of seniority rights relating to overtime opportunities.

Mulholland said the picketing is about preserving worker and union rights.

“We’re fighting for the maintenance of our department as being part of the legacy and the jewels of the city of Detroit,” said Mulholland. “This is quickly becoming a private organization in a creeping manner and we’re not going to let it happen. We are Detroiters and we’re going to keep our department as part of Detroit.”

Even though the Detroit City Council rejected city employee contract changes in a 5 to 4 vote last week, the city said that Detroit Mayer Dave Bing’s program manager can impose the changes without approval under a new consent agreement with the state.

The city expects to save $102 million under the new contract.

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