Michigan cities are recruiting “Emergency Mangers” in an effort to deal with runaway monopoly bargaining agreements and shrinking budgets. Will this practice become more widespread as government employee union officials continue their quest for more and more taxpayer dollars? Ned Resnikoff has the story on MSNBC.com
Imagine if a democratically-elected mayor was suddenly neutered and replaced by an “emergency manager” with the power to steamroll City Council. Imagine if the manager had the authority to unilaterally modify or even eradicate collective bargaining agreements and used that authority to entirely wipe out public sector unions. For Detroit, and its staunch labor movement, that scenario is less far-fetched than it sounds. In fact, it’s already happening in the Michigan city of Pontiac.
Since Lou Schimmel became Pontiac’s emergency manager in 2011, he has privatized the Department of Public Works, outsourced police services to the Oakland County sheriff’s office, and turned over the city’s fire department to nearby Waterford Township, killing the public sector unions which represented the city’s firefighters and cops. He’s put every city property, including City Hall, up for sale and cut the city’s public employee workforce by about 90%. And he’s done it all without the consent of the city council.
Across Michigan, emergency managers installed by the state are using sweeping powers to privatize public services, lay off city employees, and weaken public sector unions with little standing in their way. Now the same thing is likely to happen in Motor City, one of the industrial centers of America.