by Mike Hall, Apr 18, 2011
Sarah Palin was in Madison Saturday for a tea party rally, but pro-union workers and their allies far outnumbered tea partiers. Click here for more.
On Friday, Benton Harbor, Mich., became the first town in that state to get crushed under the boot of Gov. Rick Snyder’s (R) “financial martial law,” when his appointed so-called “emergency manager” suspended the decision-making powers of city officials.
In Wisconsin today, Gov. Scott Walker (R) denied reports that his administration is secretly crafting a plan to give Walker similar power to suspend democracy.
The Michigan law allows Snyder to declare a “financial emergency” in a city or school district and appoint a manager with broad powers, including the ability to fire local elected officials, break teachers’ and public workers’ contracts, seize and sell assets, eliminate services—and even eliminate entire cities or school districts without any public input.
In Benton Harbor, financial manager Joseph Harris’s order means city officials can only call meetings to order, adjourn them and approve minutes of meetings. All other decision–making powers rest with Harris. As Michigan AFL-CIO President Mark Gaffney says:
With the stripping of all power of duly elected officials in Benton Harbor and the attack on Detroit school teachers, we can now see the true nature of the Emergency Manager system.
This is a real life instance of taking away our fundamental rights… These new powers are taking away the will and voice of the people by stripping away the rights of public officials elected by Michiganders.
Gaffney said that emergency managers can exploiting the current crisis situation, creating a ”true case of political over-reach, and will simply add to the hardships of an already suffering populace in Michigan.”
Along with Benton Harbor, Snyder has used his new power to appoint emergency managers for Ecorse and Pontiac. The Detroit public school system has been under a financial manager since 2009. But the new law expands his power far beyond what they were when he was appointed. The Wall Street Journal today reports that Robert Bobb has
raised the possibility of making unilateral changes to the collective bargaining agreements signed with teachers less than two years ago. He is also expected to target seniority rights that protect longtime teachers from layoffs and give them the ability to reject certain school placements.
Bobb did send layoff notices for the next school year to all city teachers last week and news reports characterize the action as the first step in seeking concessions from the teachers. The Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) told its members:
Please be advised that a notice of layoff DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE ACTUALLY LAID OFF. It is the notice that must be provided in accordance with the contractual provision and the Michigan Tenure Law.
Meanwhile in Wisconsin, there are reports that Walker is exploring the possibility of a similar law as a follow up to his so-called budget repair bill that eliminated the rights of public employees to bargaining for middle class jobs.
Over the weekend, Rick Unger at Forbes.com reported that sources said Walker administration officials were meeting with lawyers from the state’s largest law firm to craft a “financial martial law bill” to be introduced next month.
The Walker legislation would empower the governor to insert a financial manager of his choosing into local government with the ability to cancel union contracts, push aside duly elected local government officials and school board members and take control of Wisconsin cities and towns whenever he sees fit to do so.
Such a law would additionally give Walker unchallenged power to end municipal services of which he disapproves, including safety net assistance to those in need.
This morning in a radio interview, Walker denied he or his staff was preparing such a law. Off course he has denied his budget bill was an assault on worker rights too. But he did come somewhat clean at a congressional hearing last week. Click here and here.
Something Walker can’t deny is that his proposed budget, which includes $83.3 million in tax breaks primarily for business and investors, raises taxes by $49.9 million by eliminating tax credits and exemptions that go mostly to lower- and some middle-income families. On top of that, he is raising fees at the University of Wisconsin that will cost students and their families $105 million over the next two years.
Zaid Jilani at Think Progress explains how these actions break the “no tax increase” ideological cornerstone of conservative Republicans. Click here.
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Tags: Benton Harbor, collective bargaining, Detroit, financial martial law, labor, Ricky Snyder, Scott Walker, state federations, states, union, union blogs, unions
Channels: Economy, In the States, Legislation & Politics, Organizing & Bargaining
Griff on 18.04.2011 at 17:58 (Reply)
Maybe it will be real marshall law before long if they keep it up. WE’RE ONLY GOING TO GET KICKED SO LONG AND THEN WE’LL HAVE TO KICK BACK
cuddlebaer on 18.04.2011 at 22:19 (Reply)
The cities that have been taken over need to go to federal court, and ask that the law is unconsitutional. The law is a violation of the Democratic principals that the United States was founded under. Thus the law is unconstitional and viod!
josiep on 18.04.2011 at 22:27 (Reply)
what are the people in michigan doing about these finanical managers nothing they should be up in arms where is the recall of snyder the people are just sitting back looking dumb!!!!!
Frisco Worker on 18.04.2011 at 23:40 (Reply)
Meanwhile the AFL-CIO “leadership” continues to bow to the Republicrats and acts like nothing is happening. This is fascism without the jackboot and everyones future is at stake what with the despoiling of OUR environment and the theft of every right and gain working people have fought for throughout the ages. Hitler is smiling right while the AFL-CIO spouts useless rhetoric.
The youth of this country are faced with no jobs and student loans totaling over $1 TRILLION! The Republicrats offer no jobs and give the rich more and more tax breaks. Without struggle in the streets the youth have no alternative but to go along with prevailing power and accept that this is a corporate State and try to make the best of it.
Dump the labor bureaucrats! Build a Fighting Workers Party! Struggle for a Workers Government!