Water Department Strike Officially Over

DETROIT (CBS Detroit) After workers started trickling across the picket line Wednesday, a Water Department union leader announced late Thursday the strike was officially over.

Local 207 President John Riehl called the end  “a victory for the union and the city of Detroit.”

Riehl said to reach the settlement, management signed an agreement to reinstate all workers who had been fired during the strike.

They also agreed to reopen the contract if Local 207 prevails at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in its lawsuit to strike down the “anti-union” parts of a November order by Judge Sean Cox, who oversees the department per a federal consent agreement. Cox is enforcing a one-year deal that includes an 81 percent reduction in the workforce and the right to outsource.

The union is still fighting Cox’s cut proposals, with a lawsuit that will be heard by the Appeals Court in Cincinnati next week on Tuesday, October 9.

“Local 207 will return to the bargaining table immediately and union members will still have the opportunity to vote on any final contract settlement,” Riehl said in a statement.

At the heart of the issue is a consulting study that found 80 percent of the jobs in the Water Department were redundant, while it hikes rates by up to double digits annually to supply the water to nearby suburbs.

“This is a victory for the city of Detroit because it has set the precedent that unions, the community and the city of Detroit can stand up against the whole array of powers-that-be and win,” Riehl said in a press release. “The courts, the mayor, the Water Board management, working in concert, could not defeat this strike and cannot defeat us if we unite and militantly fight together.”

City officials were not immediately available for comment.

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