Water Department Workers Continue Strike Despite Threats Of Termination
DETROIT (WWJ) – Workers are back on the picket line a day after a judge ordered them to end a strike protesting job cuts at the Detroit regional water department.
WWJ’s Mike Campbell reports workers from Local 207 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees were holding pickets at all three entrances to the Wastewater Treatment Plant on West Jefferson.
Passing motorists honked their horns in signs of encouragement for those picketing, including Marcus Coleman who said workers should stand united.
“If we don’t stand for something, we stand for nothing. That guy who just drove through the line, he was out here yesterday. The only thing that I can tell you is this, he’s going back because I feel he’s afraid, he’s intimidated,” said Coleman.
Workers have been on strike since Sunday in protest of a proposal to cut 80 percent of the department’s workers. Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, in an agreement with the state to stave off a takeover of the city’s finances, had agreed to reduce the number of workers at the Wastewater Treatment Plant from 2,000 down to about 375.
On Monday, federal Judge Sean Cox filed an injunction to end the strike, ordering all employees back to work for the sake of public health and safety.
Calling his order “ridiculous” and “outrageous,” union attorney George Washington filed a motion to dissolve Cox’s order, which also bars anyone affiliated with the union from obstructing operations.
“When they’re talking about eliminating 81 percent of the staff in the water department, I don’t see how one could possible handle that and not know that your job was gone anyway. If you don’t fight for your jobs now, 81 percent of us are gone anyway,” said Michael Mulholland, with AFSCME Local 207.
Water Department spokeswoman Mary Alfonzo said she hopes a hearing can be held Tuesday to resolve the matter. She said members of the AFSCME Local 207 could be suspended or fired if they don’t end the walkout.
Alfonzo said the strike hasn’t yet caused an impact on services to the nearly four million people the department serves in southeast Michigan.
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