Detroit's Bing Hits Unions With Layoffs, Pay Cuts

Thursday, 19 Jul 2012 11:57 AM

By Greg McDonald

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Detroit Mayor Dave Bing surprised the city’s union leaders Wednesday with a hard one-two punch by announcing a new contract for city workers that slashes pay by 10 percent followed by hundreds of layoff notices.
 
The Detroit Free Press reported the announcement “enraged labor bosses,” who had spent the day trying to figure out how to respond to Bing’s pending contract announcement aimed at saving $102 million. Apparently, they were not expecting immediate layoffs and were still hoping that negotiations would continue.

“This is a tough day for me, a tough day for city workers, and a tough day for all Detroiters,” Bing said. “However, it’s a necessary day.”

Bing’s announcement came despite a vote Tuesday by the Detroit City Council rejecting his pay reduction for unionized workers. But according to the Free Press the vote was mostly symbolic because the mayor has the authority to impose changes to pay scales and other worker benefits under the city’s financial stability agreement with the state.

Quoting city and labor officials, the newspaper noted, “nearly all of the city’s 48 collective bargaining units whose contracts expired June 30 will be affected.”

The 10 percent wage cut is expected to take effect over the next three to four weeks, the newspaper said, noting that it also includes more out-of-pocket costs to workers for healthcare coverage.

Al Garrett, president of the local American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said the mayor was doing the bidding of state officials in Lansing who wanted to appoint an emergency financial manager for the city.

“This is an effort to bust the unions, but we’re going to fight the fight,” Garrett said. “The mayor is being told what to do by Lansing, but he should have been able to stand up to them and do what’s right for the citizens and workers in his city.”

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