City Employment Terms go into effect without Council approval
By Mike Sandula and Marcus Wright
The Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — A day after Detroit City Council rejected the newly proposed City Employment Terms (CET), the plan was imposed anyway.
Council voted 5-4 at its July 17 formal session to reject the newly proposed City Employment Terms. Council members Brenda Jones, Kwame Kenyatta, Andre Spivey and JoAnn Watson and Council President Charles Pugh voted yes; Council members Saunteel Jenkins and James Tate and Council Pro Tem Gary Brown voted no.
At a July 18 press conference, Mayor Dave Bing said the new terms — which include a 10 percent across-the-board wage cut, reductions in health care benefits and changes in work rules — will go into effect immediately. Bing said the CET will save the city $102 million annually.
A report from the Coalition of Unions in the City of Detroit, made up of all the unions whose members are city workers, says the city would have already saved $22 million had the tentative agreement reached between the city and its unions on March 23 been kept in place. The agreement, unlike the CET, kept collective bargaining intact. The report also cites the start-up costs necessitated by the Financial Stability Agreement — the salaries of the nine-member advisory board ($25,000 each), the program management director ($220,000) and the chief financial officer ($220,000) and their staff (unknown).
“None of us — not me or anyone in my administration — takes any pleasure in this decision,” Mayor Bing said in a statement released July 18. “I know this represents a hardship and sacrifices for many city workers. But as I’ve said before, I must make the best decisions for all Detroiters.”
The plan calls for the elimination of dental and vision care for retirees, effective 2013, and mentions the possibility of eliminating said care for current employees in the future, if necessary. Other cuts include the elimination of four to six bonus vacation days, budgeted furlough days and a reduction in vacation hours to 160 from 320
The CET also calls for only providing “core services,” which Chief Operating Officer Brown defined as fire and police. He said other services, such as transportation and recreation, aren’t necessarily services the city needs to provide in the long term.
The full terms can be found at www.detroitmi.gov.
The Financial Advisory Board approved the terms over meetings between June 28 and July 12. The labor terms apply to most of the city’s unions, whose contracts expired June 30.
Chris Brown, along with Lamont Satchel, director of labor relations, and Jack Martin, chief financial officer, presented the terms to Council on July 16. Satchel said he spoke with the city’s unions, but they were barred from bargaining during the drafting of the terms. “The duty to bargain has been suspended,” Satchel said.
The CET also amends work rules. Civilians may now be employed in any function where police are not required, per the city’s discretion. Employees must also have worked 80 hours in the previous pay period to be eligible for overtime.
“You can’t cut and not change the work rules,” Chris Brown said.
Martin said without the CET, the city will run out of cash by October.
In a July 16 statement, Mayor Bing said: “Any delay in acting on the City Employment Terms places the city into a deeper cash crisis, resulting in an inadequate cash flow to make payroll, to pay vendors, and will represent a default in the Financial Stability Agreement — ultimately, triggering the appointment of an emergency manager by the state.”
Prior to Council’s July 17 vote, Gary Brown said, “I think it is absolutely essential to get behind the Consent Agreement and get behind it or leave.”
Kenyatta, who voted against the CET as well as the Consent Agreement, said the Financial Advisory Board has done more than simply advise.
“If you continue to let people kick you and slap you, they will kick you and slap you again,” Kenyatta said. “I think we would fare better under federal bankruptcy than we’re faring under the corruption and the lack of democracy here.”
Citizens and union leaders went before Council to speak against the CET.
Joe Duncan, president of the Detroit Police Officers Association, said the city’s unions had already negotiated in good faith the city, only to have the terms thrown out.
“I wouldn’t say they’re disingenuous — they’re liars,” he said.
Al Garrett, ASCFME Council 25 president, asked Council to reject the CET. “At what point do you folks stand up?” he said. “This is too far.”
FREE DETROIT-NO CONSENT (FDNC) member Cecily McClellan said if the council had not approved the Consent Agreement these things would not be happening. McClellan said the Financial Advisory Board is telling Bing what to do and what it tells him is illegal. “They (FAB) are gangsters,” McClellan said. “They left the July 17 council meeting and immediately drafted the letter to have the CET take immediate effect.”
“It shows Bing is for the corporations not the people,” Social Activist Ron Scott said.
Sandra Hines, outspoken critic of the Consent Agreement and FDNC member, said people were looking to the unions to fight the battle against the theft of Detroit. “We want to know where the unions are,” Hines said. “They have been soft on the issue. The time for being soft has passed.”
Valerie Glenn said city officials who introduced and approved the Consent Agreement have been derelict in their duties and have violated their oath of office. The charter prohibits the executive branch and the legislative branch from entering into an agreement with and entity that owes the City money.
“Those officials who approved and are implementing the consent agreement are violating the charter’s ethic’s ordinance,” Glenn said. “Citizens should file a complaint with the board of ethics.”
Glenn said residents can call 313.444.0061 for more information.
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