If anyone forgot why Public Act 4 (the Emergency Manager Law) was created, yesterday’s DPS ruling should jog their jog your memory.
Wayne County Circuit Court Judge John Murphy ruled Tuesday that the DPS School Board has control over academic decisions and Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) Roy Roberts has control of the purse strings. That's until Nov. 6th, when voters get to decide the fate of PA4.
Meanwhile, the ongoing battle between DPS emergency manager Roy Roberts and the Detroit School Board is anything but over. It's a taste of things to come if PA4 is repealed in November.
People can expect lawsuits to fly like rotten tomatoes between the two camps.
According to the Detroit News, Judge Murphy said Tuesday he expects the two groups to battle it out in the courthouse quite often:
“Murphy said if the school board and Roberts can't agree on what is financial and what is academic, he will decide on a case by case basis who has authority.
'The burden of proof is on the plaintiff that his policies fit within Public Act 72,' Murphy said."
Murphy should prepare to see Roberts and the Board frequent his courtroom:
Roberts told The Detroit News:
“If we have a disagreement and I say it's financial and they say it's academics — we are back
before Judge Murphy."
But really, Who wins in a situation like this? Certainly not the kids who need leaderhsip, not lawsuits.
Detroit City Council Member James Tate had a question yesterday for the Financial Advisory Board's Chief Jack Martin. The Board met with the Council yesterday to discuss their proposed cuts to city labor contracts.
"PA4 we know is up in the air right now. Potentially it will be voted down if placed on the ballot. What is your contingency plan?" He asked Martin, who is in place under PA4 (the state's emergency manager law) to manage the city's finances in crisis.
"I can’t say specifically what we may do. But no matter what happens with PA4, we’re still running out of cash. We need the hard dollar savings to get through this year. There’s a million-dollar difference in expenses and revenue between 2012 and 2013. My standpoint is we stay on the current path no matter what happens to PA4."
At yesterday's meeting the City Council did not approve the Financial Advisory Board's proposed cuts to city worker's wages and healthcare benefits. But Mayor Dave Bing and the Financial Advisory Board urged the council to act and not stall the labor cuts as the city can no longer operate in the status quo. Under PA4, the Financial Advisory board does not need the council's approval to make these cuts.
"We can talk about this for the next six months, but the bottom line is we’re running out of cash. If we don’t do it in an organized fashion there is going to be chaos and we’ll end up like some of these jurisdictions that filed bankruptcy."
Get to work. That’s what supporters of the consent agreement have been hoping the nine-member Financial Advisory Board (FAB) would do after the legal storm brought by Detroit's Corporation Council Krystal Crittendon cleared.
Well, it has. The FAB 9 have, in fact, been at work for some time, it seems. One of the products of their labor is a 62-page blanket contract for city unions called City Employment Terms, or CET.
The conditions of the CET have been called “union busting” by union representatives. But union busting or not, the city simply can’t afford to maintain old union agreements while facing financial straights.
Union contracts for most of the city’s unions expired June 30 and the city is set to implement new contracts today, leaving the door open to the FAB (that was appointed under the PA4 consent agreement) to make sweeping changes to unions across the city.
The CET is slated to become the one contract that governs nearly all 40 city unions that previously, each had individual contracts with the city.
And under the CET, no strikes are allowed.
The VoiceofDetroit.net reports:
“The CET bars strikes although at the same time the consent agreement says city workers will no longer be covered under the Public Employee Relations Act, which while providing some protections for workers, has been the chief mechanism to bar strikes.”
That’s a double whammy on strikes, just in case workers get mad and want to, er..., strike.
The CET also proposes that all city workers will be subject to a 10 percent pay cut, no more furlough days or annual longevity payments or merit and step increases in pay.
Sound familiar? Well, these cuts mimic the ones Mayor Dave Bing was trying to impalement three years ago but couldn’t get unions to budge on. Apparently unions wanted to go the hard way. Since the mayor couldn't do it, the state will. The CET cuts are deeper than what Bing was proposing in 2009.
The CET also says workers will still contribute five percent of their annual pay to a retirement plan, but the workers’ contributions will be considered the city’s contributions, eliminating the city’s obligation to pay separately into the fund, according to VoiceofDetroit.net.
Under the CET there is no guaranteed lunch hour, just two 15-minute breaks.
That’s not all, folks.
“In addition to the pay cut, the new contract calls for about $52 million in savings by changing the city's health care plan. The plan will eliminate dental and vision coverage for retirees, and increases co-pays on insurance. The contribution from employees on prescription drugs also increases.”
How will union workers react? They can’t strike, but there is bound to be some sort of outrage. The City Council will be meeting at 1:30pm today to discuss the CET. Stay tuned as the coverage around this unfolds.
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