LOCAL 207 ORGANIZER
Official Newsletter of AFSCME Local 207, Issue # 137, Feb. 28, 2011
If you wonder why you are being asked to go to rallies and pickets — here is a partial list of bills working their way through the Michigan state legislature:
- HB-4124-4218 would give the State Treasurer who is appointed by the Governor the right to declare practically any city or school district to be in financial distress and appoint an Emergency Financial Manager (like the Detroit Public School’s Robert Bobb). The bill has already passed the House and the Senate version has been submitted and 45 EFMs are being trained. The law would empower EFM’s to:
- terminate labor contracts
- remove elected officials and ban them from running for office for six years
- dissolve elected political bodies (city councils, school boards, etc.)
- sell off a city’s assets (i.e. DWSD, Belle Isle)
- accrue debt which the residents would be obligated to repay
- force our pensions to be taken over by an out-state fund (MERS).
HB-4140 would force all public employees into a state-wide health care insurance system and eliminate the right to bargain these benefits. SJR-C would remove the right to bargain health care benefits and puts it under control of the legislature. SB-0007 would require public workers to pay no less than 20% of our health care plan, vastly reducing our take home pay.
- HB-4152 would freeze wages, including step increases, and pass all health care costs onto public workers. SJR-B would mandate a 5% reduction in all public workers’ pay.
- HB-4059 would prohibit union officials being paid for union work, either crippling the functioning of our unions, or forcing us to raise dues to cover the difference.
- HB-4054 (and other bills) would create so-called “right to work” zones, where all unions would be effectively eliminated.
Whether or not we have unions now depends on how hard were willing to fight. The elimination of unions is no longer a “possibility”, it is a direct and serious threat. The present target is public sector unions because today most U.S. union members are public employees. If they destroy public sector unions, the rest of the union movement will be too weak to defend itself. If unions are eliminated, or more severely crippled, our wages, benefits and working conditions, which have been eroded for years, will take a steep dive, leaving workers and our families at the mercy of our employers. Remember, vacations, sick pay, holiday pay, overtime rules, the grievance procedure, etc. are not conditions of our employment – they are rights won through union bargaining and hard fought struggle.
In Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, Idaho, Oklahoma, Florida, Pennsylvania other states public workers are facing similar, or worse, attacks. Workers, youth and our supporters across the country are fighting back, including weeks of mass rallies in Wisconsin. But the super rich and their bought-and-paid-for politicians don’t fear mere protests. So we must hit them not only with huge demonstrations; we must give vent to our righteous anger, not just our disappointment. We must use Egypt as our model for struggle. The blood-sucking, tax-dodging rich and their corporations must learn the hard way that the working class, the youth (especially Latina/o and black youth) will not let them destroy our lives. We must demand the rights and respect which we deserve.