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Water Department Workers Ordered Back On The Job

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(Photo: Mike Campbell) Wastewater workers in Detroit were ordered back to work Monday.

(Photo: Mike Campbell) Wastewater workers in Detroit were ordered back to work Monday.

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DETROIT (WWJ) The Detroit Water And Sewerage Department issued a statement Monday morning saying workers who participate in a work stoppage could be subject to suspension and firing.

In another blow to their effort, the federal court ruled workers have to return to work for the sake of public health and safety.

Some of the city’s Water Department workers took to the picket line outside the wastewater treatment plant in Del Ray on Sunday, and about 30 of the 900 or so workers in the department reportedly didn’t show up for work Monday.

About a dozen workers with picket signs were at each of three entrances at the treatment plant on Jefferson in Southwest Detroit Monday. Picketing workers carried signs that said things like “Strike Before Surrender.”

“Today’s action appears to be an isolated event and does not appear to be wide spread throughout the AFSCME Union,” the department said in a press release. The 30 or so members who simply walked off their jobs today will be subject to suspension that could ultimately lead to their termination.”

Members of the department’s largest union are striking in protest of a proposal to cut 80 percent of their workers, after a consulting study found a majority of the jobs at the facility are redundant. Water rates to the suburbs, many of which are serviced by the aging Detroit system, increase by double digits almost every year.

Susan Ryan with AFSCME 207 said the judge who ordered the department’s reorganization acted illegally.

“He has set the terms of our contract telling us that we are going to lose our jobs, and have our classification replaced,” said Ryan. “He says we are going to have to lose our pensions, lose our health care …”

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