Politics & Government
12:05 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

Bing cuts Detroit city worker pay, benefits despite City Council's disapproval

Today, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing decided to go ahead and impose new contract terms that will cut wages by 10 percent and drastically change their work rules for many of Detroit's city union workers.

This decision comes after the Detroit City Council voted down the proposed plan yesterday, 5-4.

The contract terms, reports the Detroit News, will go into effect immediately.

More from the News:

"This is a tough day for me, a tough day for city workers and a tough day for all Detroiters," Bing said in a news conference. "However, it's a necessary day."

The mayor said the decision, although arduous for him and his administration, was the only choice because the city was spending $150 million a year in excess of cash received and the "difference was covered by annual multi-million dollar borrowing."

"The city can no longer borrow hoping to cover the deficit spending," he said. "Without action, the city will simply shut down...."

"None of us, not me or anyone in my administration, takes any pleasure in this decision," Bing said. "I know this represents a hardship and sacrifice for many city workers. But as I've said before, I must make the decisions for all Detroiters."

This could mean a union strike is next, if June Nickleberry, president of they AFSCME Local 214 public employees union, gets her way. 

In an interview with MLive before the Mayor's decision, Nickleberry said, 

"Once they impose the 10 percent pay cut, the 20 percent on health care, the premium on optical and vision, hopefully the employees get mad enough to do what they need to do," she said after the City Council meeting Tuesday. "And I hope that we wake up and walk out of this place, all of us together."

Earlier this week, Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek explained the tension in the run-up to the council vote.  She reported that although City Council could oppose the decision, the city's consent agreement allows for Bing to go around that vote. 

According to the Detroit News, the pay cuts and health care changes affecting 35 out of the city's 48 unions will take a few weeks or more to implement.

Check in with Michigan Radio for updates later today.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom