DETROIT (WXYZ) - Detroit Water and Sewerage Department employees who walked away from their post Sunday were sent a letter the next day detailing their immediate suspension, pending termination.
The City of Detroit issued a statement saying Wastewater Treatment Plant Director Sue F. McCormick sent the 34 employees letters explaining their suspension without pay. The letters state that the workers "engaged in gross misconduct that endangered public health and safety by unlawfully abandoning their jobs at the plant."
The letters say the employees will be terminated effective October 10 unless they request a hearing to contest the reasons for suspension. The request must be made by Friday, October 5.
"If that's the way they want to act, then we're never going to be able to settle this thing at all," said AFSCME Local 207 President John Riehl.
Workers are angry over cuts in pay and benefits. On Monday, a judge issued a temporary restraining order against the strike, saying it jeopardizes public safety. AFSCME Local 207 is overseen by Council 25, which also urged employees to comply with the court order. But, workers were back on the picket line Tuesday.
"We're standing strong, and we defend all our members against all attacks wherever they come from," Riehl said.
The union says the city is trying to replace as much as 80 percent of the staff in the next five years. They believe those jobs would be replaced by contract workers.