Detroit Bankruptcy and the assault on labor

Remarks  for DSA Youth Conference August 9, 2013          Jack Clark.

This morning’s session focuses on the future of the labor movement.  That’s proper.  For all its flaws and its current weakness, labor remains the largest and most strategically important social movement fighting for ordinary Americans.  It’s difficult to imagine a revitalized liberal-left coalition without a strengthened labor movement.  It is impossible to imagine the development of an American democratic socialist current in the absence of a strong working class movement.

With that said, I am not beginning my presentation with a look at labor itself.  Rather I want to start by looking at attacks on labor and particular one influential attack that uses the crisis in Detroit as the reason to attack unions. .  I’ll take a provocative look at a large question posed by one of labor’s foes and  suggest a large theme that might inform our struggle, and I’ll end by suggesting some specifics on what we want to fight for as allies and participants in labor’s cause. Continue reading

Detroit Bankruptcy Takes Aim at Pensions

Last year Detroiters protested the “emergency manager” law, Public Act 4, that yesterday enabled an appointed official to put their city’s fate in the hands of a bankruptcy judge. Photo: Stephen Boyle.

Detroit hit the Trifecta yesterday—the third in a series of body blows that politicians have landed on the city’s working people.

The Michigan legislature passed “right-to-work” in December and gave the governor the right to impose “emergency managers” on cities two days later. When Detroit’s emergency manager Kevyn Orr announced Chapter 9 bankruptcy Thursday, he was following a predicted trajectory that will lead to further impoverishment and privatization. Continue reading

Save Democracy in Michigan

by David Green

Empty storefront in Detroit

Empty storefront in Detroit

The state’s “Emergency Manager” law is more insidious than anything in Wisconsin

Though Wisconsin has received more media coverage for its new law banning collective bargaining for public unions, Michigan’s new Emergency Manager law is more insidious and potentially destructive of public goods like education and corrections, and public services such as road repair and snow plowing.

The rationale behind the law, which was passed by the Republican-dominated state legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder on March 16, is deficit reduction. It allows the governor to appoint an emergency manager for any municipality (city, township, county or school district) in a financial emergency as determined by the state treasurer. The emergency manager may dismiss elected boards. He may abrogate any contract that the municipality has negotiated. He may issue bonds to pay the municipality’s expenses for which the residents of the community are responsible—without a vote by the community or the community’s elected representatives.
Continue reading