WWTP workers who walked out Sunday, Sept. 30 can now celebrate victory Oct. 4.

  • All fired workers will be reinstated to their jobs
  • The union won a victory on the most important issues that led to the strike


October 4, 2012

Women, children and babies helped hold down WWTP back gate.

Today, after further negotiations with DWSD management, Local 207 President John Riehl is proud to announce that the Local 207 Executive Board voted to end our strike today. Riehl said that the strike was a victory for the union and the City of Detroit.

The decision to end the strike was made after management signed an agreement with the union to:

  1. Reinstate all 36 fired workers.
  2. Stop stonewalling and refusing to discuss union rights and job security and any of the other subjects covered by Judge Cox’s November order in bargaining, and
  3. Reopen the contract if Local 207 prevails at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in its lawsuit to strike down the anti-union parts of Judge Sean Cox’s November order.

Local 207 will return to the bargaining table immediately and union members will still have the opportunity to vote on any final contract settlement.

The Local 207 lawsuit will be heard by the Appeals Court in Cincinnati next week on Tuesday, October 9, 2012, at 9 a.m.

Young people walked the picket line with the strikers.

“This is a victory for the City of Detroit because it has set the precedent that unions, the community and the City of Detroit can stand up against the whole array of powers-that-be and win,” said John Riehl, AFSCME Local 207 President.“The courts, the Mayor, the Water Board Management, working in concert, could not defeat this strike and cannot defeat us if we unite and militantly fight together.”

Workers knew EMA plans resulted in disaster in Toronto.

Michael Mulholland, Local 207 Secretary Treasurer, said, “This victory is a measure of the strength of Detroit as a whole. If Judge Cox had not feared what the public response would have been if he had taken action against our union, this victory would never have been possible. Every city union should draw the conclusion from this victory that our unions have strength and with united action we do not have to accept management’s unilateral imposition of terrible wages and working conditions and continuous job insecurity. They should remember that one city-wide strike of all the public sector unions will have the complete backing of the community and can win.”

Attorney Shanta Driver added, “For thirty five years, our union and the workers of Detroit have been excluded from participation in the lawsuit that will determine the future of Detroit’s water supply. In just five days of striking, we achieved more to get our voices heard by the Court than all the legal maneuvers and lobbying ever achieved. Building on this victory, the people of Detroit can stop the privatization or suburban takeover of the Water Board and actually be able to improve and protect the environment and the water supply for the people of the Tri-County area.”

Workers’ cars lined the street for blocks in front of the plant.

“The 34 workers of Crew Five who led the walkout and started the strike are our heroes. They took the bold action that was needed to get the strike started. They will all be returned to work. Union officials John Riehl, Michael Mulholland and Sue Ryan, all of whom received notices of a 30 day suspension pending termination today, will have their cases heard with the other 33 workers who were disciplined for their leadership of the strike.”

Sue Ryan, Local 207 Recording Secretary, said, ”Whatever happens to me, fighting side by side with the rest of my crew in this struggle is the greatest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’m so proud of my union and its members who showed incredible resolve in the face of every conceivable threat and now have won a great victory.”

Workers said they were battling to stop the dismantling of Detroit.

BAMN attorneys Shanta Driver and George Washington negotiated the settlement for Local 207.

“We are proud to be representing Local 207 in this fight. We are proud that our City stood behind this strike because without the support of the City we never would have won,” Driver said. “If the people of Detroit draw the correct conclusion that we have the power to control the destiny of our City and its resources even when just a few of us stand up and fight to win, this struggle will have achieved a great deal. The workers of Local 207 have proved that militant collective action is needed to win and that we are building a new movement that can change the balance of power in this city forever.”

For more information call Shanta Driver at 313-407-4865 or John Riehl at 919-5011. 

The battle for Detroit has just begun.

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  1. Diane Bukowski says:

    Okay, I read their article and like another written by a UAW member who has NO experience dealing with AFSCME, it is nothing but an ultra-left diatribe against the leadership of Local 207 which serves to do nothing except further demoralize ALL city workers and workers in general. I am a former AFSCME Local 457 officer, and I have covered city AFSCME struggles for years since I retired from Detroit in 1999. The culprits here were the leadership of AFSCME Council 25, who I exposed by name in one of my articles on the strike. That leadership had previously removed Riehl and Mulholland from office, an action which was overturned by the International Union. Previous articles in VOD covered the protests which Local 207 held to build up to the strike. I have watched Riehl and Mulholland for many years in the struggles their local has conducted against privatization, and now a mammoth struggle against the decimation of the entire water department. Having been a union official myself, and watched other officials at the local level DIE of heart attacks and strokes from the strain of dealing with the decades-long onslaught against Detroit city workers, I understand what is involved in trying to mobilize the members to fight back, while dealing with a reactionary Council leadership in bed with the Democratic party, and frequently with members who are not willing to engage themselves in any fight-back. The cynical actions of the SEP in going to the picket line and engaging the workers in criticism of the local leadership did NOTHING for the workers. Did they bring dozens of workers WITH them to support the picket lines? NO! Their objective was to get the workers to vote for the SEP slate in the November elections. Were YOU there and did you bring anyone with you to support the workers? I was there when John Riehl read the discharge notices out to the workers, and I saw the pain and strain on his face; the workers rallied at one point to support him by numbering the names he read off, because he was overcome by emotion. I was also there when the Local VP, a Black woman, explained to the workers the obstacles Riehl and Mulholland were dealing with. Because the strike did not start a world revolution or even a city-wide uprising (which I hoped it WOULD and I’m sure Riehl and Mulholland did also), does not mean it did not represent a victory for the workers. Yes, they came back with a stinking deal to get their jobs back, but they got them back. Meanwhile, the strike ignited national support and even sympathetic coverage by the mass media. The U.S. EPA has now intervened in Judge Cox’s fascist rulings, and barred further action on the EMA contract for 45 days while it studies the impact of the contract on Clean Water Act regulations. A VOD story on that is upcoming shortly. I have always ABHORRED sectarianism on the left; it is few enough in number as it is. I blame that in part for diminishing the support for the workers on the picket lines that SHOULD have been there. WHERE WERE ALL THE SEP MEMBERS AND THE MEMBERS OF OTHER LEFT GROUPS WHEN THE WORKERS NEEDED THEM MOST?

  2. Dave Johnson says:

    I do not agree with their political viewpoint and their type of government, however, the Socialist Party has an excellent review of the ASFCME, local 207 strike at the Detroit Water Department. Rather than a victory, they call it a total defeat for labor unions in Detroit, and for the Water Department in particular. The article is well written, and rather than featuring all the union propaganda, lists very clear and defined reasons why the strike was a disaster. Go to the site, tab for search, then tab for “Union Capitulation Deals blow to Detroit Sewage Workers.

  3. Thanks for all the support. And and all the truth VOD! We won because the we had the support of Detroit & surrounding communities.

  4. Pingback: Waking Up and Smelling the Coffee: Americans Organize Collectively to Defend Themselves against the Plutocratic 1% | Colonel Despard's Radical Comment

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