Detroit city council imposes furloughs on union employees

Detroit city council imposes furloughs on union employees

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Spirit of Detroit statue outside the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center  (Credit: Fox 2 News) Spirit of Detroit statue outside the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center (Credit: Fox 2 News)
DETROIT, Mich. (WJBK) -

"You had the state for the last ten months been running this ship, and it's steadily going down," said Ed McNeil from AFSCME Council 25.

He is fed up with what he sees happening to the city's workers.  The city council voted Thursday for furloughs for 600 union employees, a ten percent pay cut they say will save the city almost $500,000 a month.

"On the backs of the workers.  That's what it is," McNeil remarked.

"I'm sure nobody's going to be pleased.  No one's pleased when your salary is cut, and you're being asked to take some additional days off, but I think, in the long run, it very well may be the best for the City of Detroit at this point," said council member James Tate.

McNeil said it is illegal.  Negotiations were ongoing, not at an impasse.

AFSCME has filed an unfair labor charge.  They say that the city is trying to balance the books on the backs of the workers, who have already given up so much, when there are other ways to raise revenue.

"All of the things that we had, had they implemented them in the timeframe that they should've been, the city right now would've been in the black," McNeil told me.

Instead he said the state has forced the city to hire numerous, expensive, outside contractors when other options are available from healthcare reforms to the city's vendors to collecting on code enforcement violations and back taxes.

"I went to city council one day, and I held up the sheet with the list.  I said, 'It's not like we don't know who [holds] the money and how much they do.  Here it is.  We need to go get it.'  'You're time is up Mr. McNeil.  You're two minutes is up,'" McNeil explained.

He said the battle is far from over, and with so much talk of an emergency manager, he is concerned the state is not up to the task.

"Andy Dillon and the governor are not supposed to get a pass.  For the last ten months, they've been running the City of Detroit, and for the last ten months we've... [gone] from $46 million to over $100 million in debt, and nobody's talking about it," McNeil said.

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