Michigan State Panel Opens Way For Cancelling Contracts Covering State Workers

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Another day, another way to put the screws to Michigan's union members.

On September 20, the Michigan Civil Service Commission (MCSC), over the vehement protests of state employee unions, gave the state the authority to override collective bargaining contracts for state employees during financial emergencies.

The commission also gave government managers ultimate authority for how employees receive overtime, are reassigned after layoffs, while reducing the issues upon which they're allowed to bargain.

The worker “reforms” are the most significant since the state legislature adopted right-to-work laws for public and private workers in 2012.  The Michigan push for so-called RTW laws is part of a national campaign by the right wing, its business backers and their GOP handmaidens to emasculate and destroy workers and unions, especially public worker unions.

This time, it was a ruling by the Michigan Civil Service Commission, which voted 3-1 to approve the new language, covering the state's nearly 50,000 employees. The three supporters were Republican-appointed.

"This is all part of the right-wing’s plan to bust unions, defund the left, and give more power to their corporate donors in our democracy and in the workplace, while decreasing economic security for state workers and their families at the same time," said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan.

Countered the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, who supported the so-called reforms: "We applaud the MCSC’s efforts to provide central direction and control over state employee personnel matters and leave the patchwork scheme and red-tape of union contracts behind." 

Unions and workers hurt are members of the Auto Workers, the Service Employees, AFSCME, the Michigan State Education Association and the Michigan Corrections Organiza-tion, SEIU Local 526. The unions said any changes should have been collectively bargained.          

“The proposed changes,” said the news service MIRS, “in the eyes of its supporters, would bring more efficiency to a complex system. In many cases, they say the changes would create uniformity in how employees represented by unions and non-exclusively represented employees are treated. Yet, the unions don’t see a system that’s broke and in need of fixing.”

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Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Press Associates

Union Matters

The Big Drip

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

A rash of water main breaks in West Berkeley, Calif., and neighboring cities last month flooded streets and left at least 300 residents without water. Routine pressure adjustments in response to water demand likely caused more than a dozen pipes, some made of clay and more than 100 years old, to rupture.

West Berkeley’s brittle mains are not unique. Decades of neglect left aging pipes susceptible to breaks in communities across the U.S., wasting two trillion gallons of treated water each year as these systems near collapse.

Comprehensive upgrades to the nation’s crumbling water systems would stanch the flow and ensure all Americans have reliable access to clean water.

Nationwide, water main breaks increased 27 percent between 2012 and 2018, according to a Utah State University study.  

These breaks not only lead to service disruptions  but also flood out roads, topple trees and cause illness when drinking water becomes contaminated with bacteria.

The American Water Works Association estimated it will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years to upgrade and expand water infrastructure.

Some local water utilities raised their rates to pay for system improvements, but that just hurts poor consumers who can’t pay the higher bills.

And while Congress allocates money for loans that utilities can use to fix portions of their deteriorating systems, that’s merely a drop in the bucket—a fraction of what agencies need for lasting improvements.

America can no longer afford a piecemeal approach to a systemic nationwide crisis. A major, sustained federal commitment to fixing aging pipes and treatment plants would create millions of construction-related jobs while ensuring all Americans have safe, affordable drinking water.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work