Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced on Friday he will appoint an manager to lead Detroit out of its dire financial straits, but union leaders in Detroit are pushing back against a decision they say could hurt their members by taking away control over labor contracts.
“When times are tough, it is especially important that decisions are made democratically and locally,” the metro Detroit AFL-CIO said in a statement on Friday. “Today’s announcement by Governor Snyder recommending an emergency manager does a disservice to every Detroit citizen. It will lead to cuts in vital services, which will benefit out of town creditors and make our communities less livable.”
Detroit school board President LaMar Lemmon told Fox News he thinks Snyder carefully timed his decision before a new law takes effect at the end of the month that gives local governments an alternative to an emergency manager. The current law is perceived by some unions as a threat because it grants emergency managers control over labor contracts.
“Organized labor has already been cut to the bone,” Lemmon argued, adding that he expects an appeal of Snyder’s appointment.
Michigan unions have taken a beating recently, particularly with the state’s right-to-work law that banned mandatory union membership.
Some, though, say unions bear the responsibility for Detroit’s trouble.
“You come up with one reason why Detroit is now in this situation: It’s the unions,” Matt McCall, president of the Penn Financial Group, told Fox. ”The unions are destroying Detroit.”
City officials won’t make tough decisions about union contracts, McCall told Fox, which is why an emergency manager is necessary.
UPDATE 5:10 p.m.:
A spokesman from Snyder’s office told The Washington Examiner the governor’s review of Detroit began before the new law was on the books, and the timing has nothing to do with thwarting unions’ control over their contracts.
Under current law, an emergency manager would still have to meet with union representatives before making changes to contracts, then get those changes approved by the state treasurer.