LOCAL 207 ORGANIZER

Official Newsletter of AFSCME Local 207, Detroit

Issue # 166 Sept. 30, 2012    Phone: 313-965-1601    Fax: 312-965-1603   Email: afscme207@sbcglobal.net   Website: afscme207.com

THE DETROIT WATER WORKERS ON STRIKE!

Pickets up NOW at 9300 W. Jefferson

Defending Our City, Our Lives, Our Childrens Futures

Workers from the Detroit Waste Water Plant have walked out. We are calling on the community to support our strike. We are sending a message to the powers that be that the people of Detroit are tired of being dictated to and victimized by the rich and the powerful, and that we intend to win this fight.

On the surface, the aim of this strike is to win Detroit city workers a good contract and to save our union. But in reality this strike is much more than an economic action to defend living standards. We are striking to restore the dignity and pride of Detroit. We believe the youth of this city deserve a bright and hopeful future. We are asking our families, friends, neighbors, and fellow union members to unite with us so that we can win this strike and use that victory to unleash a new wave of struggles strong enough and politically clear enough to restore public education, our neighborhoods, and most importantly to restore the confidence, pride and belief in ourselves and our communities that years of relentless attacks have taken from us.

“We love Detroit and its people. We are Detroit. This strike gives the people of Detroit a much needed and long awaited opportunity to change the balance of power in our favor. If our strike becomes Detroit’s strike, we can win so much more than a fair contract,” said John Riehl, President of AFSCME Local 207.

“A strike to save the unions and preserve a decent living standard for working people and America’s shrinking middle class can unite Detroit and its neighboring poor, working-class and middle-class communities in a common struggle for our shared interests. Standing together, fighting our common enemies, we have a real chance of overcoming the racism and mistrust that have always curtailed our chances to win, and have been the most successful weapon that the rich and powerful possess. Fighting as one, we could finally put an end to the relentless racist attacks Detroit has endured which have impoverished and weakened the strength of both our city and our suburbs,” said Michael Mulholland, AFSCME Local 207 Secretary Treasurer.

 

 

Last November, right-wing Republican Federal Judge Sean Cox, not surprisingly the brother of ex-Attorney General Mike Cox, issued an order which decimated the basic rights of the unions representing DWSD workers. It was aimed especially at the largest and most militant and progressive union, AFSCME Local 207.  Rather than dealing with the chronic understaffing, lack of training, and broken down equipment at the wastewater plant, Cox ordered elected full-time union officers back on the job so they could no longer administer the union. They slashed seniority rights and allowed unlimited privatization. Now, management has signed a no-bid $48 million contract with consultants to cut 81% of the Department’s jobs.

The union has been trying to negotiate a contract under these restraints, but management is only intent on smashing our unions. Management’s offer is getting worse, not better. They are now demanding that the union sign a contract which denies the right of workers to meet with their steward concerning discipline. Management wants the right to reclassify anyone and move them into whatever union management likes, or to no union at all.

They are asking Cox to sever the last remaining ties between the Detroit and DWSD, including any obligation to pay a “living wage.” This amounts to stealing DWSD from Detroit and giving it to outside contractor corporations, after having just lost $500 million to the banks in a stupid financial move! Management has published a time-table for getting rid of many of us in April 2013. Our best chance to keep our jobs is to fight for them. And that’s what we’re doing.