Feb 18, 2011
Michigan Republican’s war on the middle class and labor is priority one
The Michigan Republican’s war on the middle class and labor continues to go at top speed with complete disregard for the consequences.
Less than two weeks after introducing bills in the Michigan House that will repeal Public Act 312 of 1969 that allows binding arbitration of labor disputes for municipal police and fire departments, the bills, House Bills 4205 and 4206, are already headed to committee for action. It is rare that legislation moves that quickly.
Because police officers and firefighters are essential to public safety, they are not allowed to go out on strike like other bargaining units can, so this gives them a tool in negotiating a contract. PA 312 is the foundation of collective bargaining rights for firefighters and police officers in Michigan, and since 1969 PA 312 has provided a fair and equitable process for contract disputes between firefighters and police officers and municipalities.
It is rarely even used and when it is the local municipalities win 71 percent of the time, yet Republicans try to blame the financial difficulties municipalities are facing on PA 312 while ignoring the fact that revenue sharing payments from Lansing have been cut and property values are falling.
They are setting up a trap to first bust public service unions then they will go after private unions. However, they are being stealthier about it instead of being more open like they are in Wisconsin and Ohio, fearing the backlash from working Michiganders.
The new budget proposal introduced yesterday cuts revenue sharing payments and aid to public schools by $420 per pupil, sending many municipalities and school districts into insolvency, and they are expanding the law for emergency financial manger and giving them more power.
The EFM law already takes the power and authority out of the hands of the people legally elected by the voters and places it in the hands of a person appointed by the governor and the Legislature. The new bills will make it easier to appoint an EFM with several more triggers, and the bill also gives the EFM much more broader powers, such as allowing the manger to terminate contracts negotiated with labor unions in good faith.
This is just one more union-busting measure, and if there are less police officers on the streets and firefighters ready to respond, Republicans think it’s worth it as long as they bust the union.
Yesterday Senate Republicans introduced Senate Bill 165 that will kill the prevailing wage law that calls for union wages to be paid on public projects. The bill was sponsored by Sen. John Moolenaar, R-Midland, but it is co-sponsored by 20 of the 26 Senate Republicans.
HBs 4205-4206 that will kill PA 312 will be before the House Committee on Government Operations at noon on Wednesday Feb. 23 in room 327 of the House Office Building, 121 N. Capitol in Lansing. The meeting, like all committee meetings, is open to the public.