DETROIT - Detroit appeared headed to a consent agreement Monday, but more political upheaval and rankling have once again postponed the vote.
Mayor Dave Bing's administration appeared willing to bring the concessionary tentative agreements for approval, but at the last minute: "At this point, we would not be in a position to bring the TA's to his body for consideration. But, what we would want to do, is really to look at dealing with the consent agreement," said Deputy Detroit Mayor Kirk Lewis.
Lewis said the state is still trying to put more into the contracts - things such as allowing the city to contract out work, force merit-based promotions, restrict bumping rights and no strike or work slow downs.
Council woman JoAnn Watson said the changes are an insult.
"When people do what you ask, come together for a historic, unprecedented level of concession, you have to honor that. And the resolution should be coming from the Executive Branch to this branch to be voted on," she said.
AFSCME union leader Al Garrett, who led the concessionary negotiations, said strikes are not out of the question.
"What this man in Lansing is saying to you is that the black folk that primarily work for the city of Detroit ought not have any rights. Well, I can rest assured that the 3,000 that's left in the city of Detroit has rights and we will take it to the street," he said.
Council had planned a 1 p.m. vote but said it will take more time to review the changes.
New Legal Challenges
There is also a new legal challenge to the proposed agreement.
A lawsuit was filed in federal court over the number of jobs that could be in jeopardy if the proposed deal goes through. In the lawsuit, AFSCME Council 25 is asking federal court to stop the city council vote on a consent agreement and the threat of a state takeover because 30 city employee unions have ratified new contracts with concessions and the state wants those tossed aside.
Where the union stands
A little more than a week ago the Detroit City Employee Union leaders announced their historic contract ratification that included a 10 percent pay cut and additional cuts in health care costs and retirement. However, the cuts were not enough for the Governor Rick Snyder, the state treasurer and members of the state financial review team. In their proposed agreement, they want major rule changes including outsourcing, department consolidation, bumping rights eliminated for union members with seniority rights and employees to work outside of their job classifications.
The process is already being challenged in the Michigan Supreme Court because the financial review team has done behind the scenes negotiations in violation of the state open meetings act. This federal lawsuit could also stop the process because it violates union rights.
There is no word when federal court will rule.
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