Monday, April 18, 2011

Detroit Declares War on Unions

That how the headline might read if it were a GOP administration in any city or state taking on the public unions. But this is Detroit, so don't expect any White House-supported temper tantrums like we saw recently in Wisconsin.
A new state law has emboldened the Detroit mayor and schools chief to take a more aggressive stance toward public unions as the city leaders try to mop up hundreds of millions of dollars in red ink.

Robert Bobb, the head of the Detroit Public Schools, late last week sent layoff notices to the district's 5,466 salaried employees, including all of its teachers, a preliminary step in seeking broad work-force cuts to deal with lower enrollment.

Earlier last week, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing presented a $3.1 billion annual budget to City Council in which he proposed higher casino taxes and substantial cuts in city workers' health care and pensions to close an estimated $200 million budget gap.

Mr. Bobb, already an emergency financial manager for the struggling and shrinking public school system, is getting further authority under a measure signed into law March 17 that broadens state powers to intervene in the finances and governance of struggling municipalities and school districts. This could enable Mr. Bobb to void union contracts, sideline elected school-board members, close schools and authorize charter schools

Mr. Bobb, appointed in 2009 by Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm and retained by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, pledged last week to use those powers to deal decisively with the district's $327 million shortfall and its educational deficiencies. Mr. Bobb raised the possibility of making unilateral changes to the collective-bargaining agreements signed with teachers less than two years ago.

He is also expected to target seniority rights that protect longtime teachers from layoffs and give them the ability to reject certain school placements.

The Detroit Federation of Teachers will likely fight him on these issues. The union couldn't be reached for comment.
Apparently they're waiting on marching orders from the Community Organizer-in-Chief.


srdem65 said...

But, see, the Dems LIKE unions so that makes it OK.  It's like tough love or something.
It's too bad that it's almost too late to address the problems of Detroit.  There are other reasons Detroit is in trouble.

Toejam said...

"There are other reasons Detroit is in trouble."

Yea, Like Northward migration!