Minehaha Forman is a freelance writer living in Detroit. Born on a farm in Belize, Central America, she moved to the U.S. to pursue higher education and a career in writing. Forman’s work has been featured in many metro Detroit publications including Dbusiness magazine, Hour magazine and Corp! magazine. She has provided event coverage for Real Times Media and The Michigan Chronicle for three years, covering the popular Pancakes and Politics speaker series and other events. Prior to working with the Chronicle, Forman was a blogger with The American Independent News Network where she covered Metro Detroit politics and the 2008 presidential election. She will continue to provide commentary and coverage of Detroit politics as a blogger and feature writer for The Michigan Chronicle’s website.
Website URL: http://truthordarestories.blogspot.com/
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.
Some call them election reform bills, others call them voter suppression bills. Governor Snyder called them an unsatisfactory two weeks back when he vetoed three bills that were created to curb voter fraud. Or, as critics would say, to suppress the vote.
The three bills Snyder turned down, MLive reports:
1. A bill that would have required a voter to reaffirm U.S. citizenship before receiving a ballot
2. A bill that would mandate a valid photo ID when picking up an absentee ballot from a city office
3. A bill that would have required training for people, companies and organizations participating in voter registration drives
Snyder said he vetoed the bills because he was concerned about some logistics, not because of voter suppression. He said he was concerned about how and where people would be trained for voter registration drives and he was concerned that people would be confused about verifying their citizenship before getting a ballot.
But these kinks may be worked out and Snyder is expected to take a second look at the bills when they come across his desk, and review them again. He may this time sign them into law if he feels the issues of concern were addressed.
But I can't help but wonder: How many people wouldn’t participate in a voter registration drive if they had to take a class beforehand? How many people wouldn’t vote because they had to reaffirm their citizenship, one more step to the voting process? How many wouldn’t vote because they were out of town and did not have a valid photo ID to present before picking up an absentee ballot?
Let’s hope Snyder doesn’t change his decision after the bills are tweaked. Some call it voter suppression. I call it voter discouragement.
Is EMU President Martin A Drunk?
The Eastern Michigan Board of Regents seems to think so. The Board sent a letter to University President Sue Martin asking her to control her drinking or face losing her job.
In the letter they suggested that she seek help:
“We are supportive of you seeking help from professionals ...” the letter stated, adding, adding:
“We are concerned that your misuse of alcohol could result in liability to the university.”
But the incident in question that prompted the letter—a dispute between Martin and EMU alumnus Michael Ferens over a former univeristy mascot was described as “minor” and “brief” by Ferens, Martin and witnesses of the incident according to a report on AnnArbor.com.
Is one dispute over drinks enough for a warning from the Board of Regents?
It seems like there’s more to the story than this one incident. Outside of the brief argument with Ferens, Martin has not had any drinking related problems since she got a DWI in 2005. Could Martin be the victim of political jousting? Possibly, although that is purely speculation.
Martin has publically admitted to acting out of line and apologized for making a mistake. Suggesting her hectic lifestyle led to the inappropriate her behavior. But have there been other unpublicized incidents or does the EMU Board of Regents just want Martin out?
How it relates to Detroit:
In June, Martin attended the Michigan Chronicle’s Pancakes and Politics forum with DPS emergency financial manager Roy Roberts and the chancellor of Michigan’s new Education Achievement Authority (EAA) John Covington.
EMU is a major partner in the creation of the EAA, which is being piloted in Detroit and there’s a lot at stake both for EMU and students entering the new system. Any instability with EMU could reflect poorly not only on the University but on the EAA as in launches in Detroit.
Hopefuly this controversy will be resolved and Martin will continue to serve as president and do so without alcohol related squabbles.
CLICK HERE to read the letter the Board sent to Martin.
CLICK HERE to read the letter Martin sent to the Board.
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