DETROIT (WXYZ) - Mayor Bing is moving forward with sweeping changes to union contracts for workers across the city, slashing wages and benefits. Police officers are among those affected.
As part of the city’s consent agreement with the state, Bing says he has the authority to impose big cuts without the approval from the unions.
Without the cuts the mayor and his administration claim the city will spiral into chaos because it won't be able to pay the bills.
Among the changes, a 10% wage decrease, a reduction in sick time and vacation, and significant changes to benefits and work rules. Union leaders are crying foul saying Bing is overstepping his mayoral powers and they are taking him to court.
“They’re not looking at the impact… they’re looking at dollars and no damn sense,” said Joseph Duncan, leader of the Detroit Police Officers Union, referring to Mayor Bing and the Financial Advisory Board.
Police officers held an emergency meeting Wednesday night to discuss their new contract. Hundreds packed a UAW hall on the city’s east side. During the tense session some officers got heated and even suggested a strike. Union leaders say that won’t happen because it’s illegal.
“We’re not going to have any stoppages or slowdowns. We’re not going to have any strikes. These are professional individuals. They’re going to do their jobs,” Duncan said.
Bottom line is, the cuts will take several hundred dollars out of the wallets of officers and union workers every month, and that is devastating for many of them.
“I really care about the city. I went to Henry Ford High School. I raised my kids in this city. This hurts all of us – the entire community,” said officer Derek Jones.
The officers union is already challenging the new contract in court. 7 Action News and http://wxyz.com will keep you posted on new developments.
Mayor Dave Bing held a news conference Wednesday to address the pay and benefit cuts to union workers.
This comes a day after Detroit City Council voted against the proposed cuts five to four.
Under Bing's new proposal union workers would see wage cuts, cuts in benefits and changes to work rules.
During the news conference, the mayor said he has ordered his administration to move forward with his plan right away.
"The city employment terms including wage reductions and work rule changes are effective immediately," the mayor said.
He says the changes are necessary to get a hold of Detroit's financial situation.
"The city can no longer borrow, hoping to cover this deficit spending. Without action the city will simply shut down," the mayor said.
The mayor's plan was approved by the Financial Advisory Board last week. While council voted it down, the city's program manager can still implement the changes.
Chief Financial Officer, Jack Martin, said even though it's painful for city workers, "this allows us to fix the problem in an orderly manner. If we do nothing there will be chaos."
7 Action News spoke with Ed McNeil, with AFSCME 25. He's also the chief negotiator of unions for the city of Detroit.
He says, "People have sacrificed ... to help the city of Detroit. He (Mayor Bing) has just turned his back on those individuals and a lot of those individuals are on public assistance already."
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