Monday, March 15, 2010

Detroit Union Pushes Back Against Dave Bing

Detroit union members are not the most adept at keeping up with current events. Heck, lets throw history and economics in there as well. Detroit is hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, and this is before you throw in the Detroit Public Schools.

Revenue streams into Detroit are decreasing. Fewer businesses and fewer taxpaying citizens means lower sales receipts, lower property values, lower income taxes and a higher percentage of people who must depend on government services. The government unions have existed in a bubble for too long and are finally suffering from some of the negative consequences of their own selfish behavior.

Detroit cannot choke its dwindling businesses with more taxation as it will help to drive what little is left out of the city. That leaves city expenses as the most likely portion of the budget that can be addressed. That was not always the case.

Past generations of city managers had no difficulty in taxing businesses and residents in an ever increasing spiral of confiscation. As costs of business rose, employers looked outside the city and the state (another entity of taxing genius) for expansion and relocation.

While the economy crumbled around them, city unions continued to hammer out more and more unsustainable deals with a city machinery that was too short sighted to see the iceberg in the mist. Holding hands in a death march, unions and city management arrived at this point in history with union attitudes besmirched by the memories of how things used to be--when they could count on entrenched politicians and bureaucrats for unrestrained salary increases for the paltry cost of maintaining a well greased turnstile in front of the voting precinct.

Cold reality is now setting in with the recognition that businessman Dave Bing is not going to govern like his predecessors. Bing, unlike those before him, knows what is necessary to create a job and to balance a budget. He has witnessed the damage first hand that unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy can do to a local economy. In the operation of his businesses he had to deal with all things Detroit.

Now Bing is faced with the task of balancing the Detroit city budget.

Bing is asking all city workers to take a 10 percent pay cut in the form of 26 furlough days, and also has discussed the need for additional benefit cuts.

Frustrated with months of unproductive negotiations, Bing last month accused AFSCME of purposefully delaying the process. "Either they can't read, they can't add or they can't comprehend," he said. "It has to be one of the three."
In what has to be a case of unintended irony, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) will be addressing the Detroit City Council at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center on Wednesday, the building named after one of the most corrupt and union pandering mayors in the history of the solar system.
“Bing’s doing nothing but union-busting," Catherine Phillips, AFSME's chief negotiator, told the Citizen. "I’ve been telling the press for a month that we’re willing to give up 26 furlough days but nothing else. However, our international union’s research and economics expert just told us only 13 furlough days are necessary, with agreements to mandatory generic drugs and the elimination of coverage for fertility drugs and Viagra.”
I applaud Catherine Phillips for speaking out for the past month on a problem that took decades to metastasize into the grotesque mass it is today. That leaves her and her membership with only a couple hundred months of silence to answer for.

I wouldn't be so quick to take the generic drugs and Viagra off the table either. The city is going to have to cut hundreds of millions of dollars over the next few years just to break even--that is if the federal government doesn't decide that US taxpayers owe Detroit a bailout for decades of corruption and sloth.

If the municipal union gets busted in Detroit it will be merely the symptomatic result of a city that had to cut costs to survive. It might be time for the AFSCME to shut up and take its generic medicine.

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