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Policy: Labor

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder takes on unions again

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins,Politics Digest,Labor unions,Labor,Michigan,Rick Snyder

Michigan Republican Governor Rick Snyder kicked up a storm by signing legislation this month that turned the former Big Labor stronghold into a right-to-work state. So what does he do as an encore? Sign a new municipal emergency manager bill that undos the one modest victory that state unions could claim in the November election – repealing the old municipal emergency manager law.

The Detroit News reports:

Under the new law, the state could review the finances of a city or school district if the entity defaults on debt payments, has a six-month-old overdue bill of at least $10,000, fails to make payroll for a week or if requested by the governing body or chief administrative officer.

Cities and school districts in a financial emergency could choose from mediation, a state-supervised financial consent agreement, an emergency manager or Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy.

Under the old law, bankruptcy was only an option if an emergency manager determined it was the only viable option.

Emergency managers would have the ability to reject, modify or terminate labor union agreements — sweeping authority granted under the repealed 2011 law. Collective bargaining could be suspended for up to five years. (Emphasis added)

Cities and school district governing boards could remove the emergency manager after one year by a two-thirds vote. After an emergency manager leaves, local officials would be barred from altering the manager’s spending plans, labor contracts and ordinances for two years.

“This legislation demonstrates that we clearly heard, recognized and respected the will of the voters,” Snyder said in a statement. “It builds in local control and options while also ensuring the tools to protect communities and schools districts’ residents, students and taxpayers.”

Just last month Michigan voters repealed a similar law enacted in 2011. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees campaigned hard for the repeal, arguing the law gave the emergency managers far too much power – especially regarding union contracts.

After the election, Big Labor pointed to the repeal and their own failure to amend the state constitution to prevent right-to-work as proof that voters were calling for the pre-2011 status quo. In other words, they wanted a cease-fire on union-related laws.

That failed to dissuade Snyder and statehouse Republicans on right-to-work and they’re apparently decided that while they have the unions outraged they might as well go full-throttle. They even attached an appropriation to the emergency manager bill, making the new law repeal-proof under the state constitution.

Greg Bowens, spokesman for the AFSCME-backed Stand Up for Democracy group, which lead the campaign for the repeal, said the new law was “about the worst Christmas present that municipalities could have.”

 

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