Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Motor City trying not to die twice.

detroitDetroit has faced mayoral scandal, the loss of thousands of automotive jobs, a lack of investment, crime, flights to the suburbs, and, over the last few decades, literally every other traumatic problem an American city can face. Even with bailout funds, Detroit, once a shining example of American leadership and innovation, can barely turn out a functional, affordable car.

The Motor City is a shadow of the city it once was.

It was once also an example of the power of America’s unions, with United Auto Worker’s membership peaking at 1.5 million in 1979.  But unpayable salaries, cheap labor overseas, a decline in innovation, and “globalization,” drove business from Detroit.

Unions have held America’s automotive industry hostage with contracts that were more than 1000 pages in length.  For a business were innovation and design are the keys to competitiveness, unions were a bane.   The city has become  poster child for what can happen if unions take the reigns of industry.

Now the city itself, like thousands across the country, is running out of money. But there is a glimmer of hope that Detroit is learning to deal with the unions that have caused it so much trouble. Mayor Dave Bing is not letting up against the city workers unions. Fox News in Detroit reports:

Mayor Dave Bing on Tuesday gave some of Detroit’s municipal worker unions 30 days to agree to new contracts that would include pay cuts or risk having the city impose new contract terms without their consent. […]

Bing told reporters the city loses millions of dollars each day it operates without the pay cuts, and that he will have no choice but to terminate current deals and institute the cuts without union approval. […]

Bing listed those unions during a Tuesday press conference and singled out negotiators for the 3,500-member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union for refusing to accept the city’s proposals. […]

“The mayor is not going to be able to settle a contract with his attitude,” Riehl said. “If he wants to settle a contract, he needs to make his demands something unions can live with. Our members can’t afford to be forced into poverty because the city can’t maintain it’s financial condition.”

His attitude?  Perhaps Mayor Bing is just interested in making sure Detroit doesn’t die twice.

Image courtesy of ithinkx.

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