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Striking Water Workers Suspended, Face Firing

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Wastewater workers in Detroit on strike. (WWJ Photo/Mike Campbell)

Wastewater workers in Detroit on strike. (WWJ Photo/Mike Campbell)

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DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - Thirty-four Detroit Water and Sewerage workers who went on strike over pay cuts and the city’s plan to downsize the department over several years have been suspended without pay and face firing.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department says in a release Tuesday that the employees were notified Monday by certified letter of “their immediate suspension.” They’re expected to be terminated effective Oct. 10.

The workers from Local 207 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees walked off the job Sunday at the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant 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. On Tuesday, however, several employees were still on the picket line, converging at all three entrances to the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Department Director Sue F. McCormick wrote in a letter that the striking workers “engaged in gross misconduct that endangered public health and safety.”

It’s illegal in Michigan for municipal workers to strike.

AFSCME Local 207 President John Riehl said the union’s attorneys are reviewing the letters.

TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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