DETROIT (WWJ) - A 10 percent employee wage cut and work rule changes are being imposed by Detroit Mayor Dave Bing under a plan to get the city's finances under control.
Among the contract changes: Unions will now be forced to reimburse the city for salary and benefits to union officials and there will now be an 80/20 cost sharing on medical benefits.
"The city can no longer borrow, hoping to cover this deficit spending. Without action the city will shut down," Bing told reporters on Wednesday. "This is a tough day for me, a tough day for city workers and a tough day for all Detroiters. However, it is a necessary day – but it's still a tough day."
Detroit City Council members voted Tuesday 5-4 to reject the new rules, but they didn't get the final word.
Bing thanked the four council members who he said "took a tough vote" and "were consistent in their efforts to restore financial stability to the city."
"Let me say again, none of us – not me or anyone in my administration – takes any pleasure in this decision. I know this represent a hardship and sacrifices for many city workers.," Bing added. "But as I've said before, I must make the best decisions for all Detroiters."
The cuts are expected to save Detroit $102 million.
Among those to vote against the changes was Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh. Pugh said that, while he supports the consent agreement, he can't support "union busting."
Under a consent agreement with the state, the city maintains that Mayor Bing's program manager can impose such changes without council approval.
Some, however, are disputing that fact.
WWJ Newsradio 950 spoke with Michigan AFSCME Council 25 President Al Garrett.
"When he (Bing) called me this morning to apprise me that he was going to impose anyways, I asked him ... 'What provision of the consent agreement are you relying on, or the charter, or the state law -- what is it that gives you the authority.' And, essentially, he could not or would not identify it," Garret said.
Garrett said they will go to court on this issue. He said he also plans to contact City Council, asking them to also file a lawsuit against the city.
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