Detroit Water Workers on Strike

Workers feel that the city, management and Mayor Dave Bing have sold them out in favor of privatization and a no-bid $48 million contract with consultants to cut 81% of the Department’s jobs.

DETROIT – Approximately 40 union workers from the American Federation of State and County Municipal Employees union (AFSCME) Local 207 walked off their jobs Sunday morning, Sept. 30, 2012 in response to what they claim is management’s failure to address their concerns in negotiating a new contract while simultaneously signing a no-bid $48 million contract with consultants to cut 81% of the Department’s jobs, essentially privatizing Detroit Water and Sewerage.

One of the biggest contentions in contract talks with the city and management has been the proposal to cut the DWSD workforce by 81%, bringing the current 1,978 employees down to 374 over the next five years. Although 374 workers would still remain, those would be outsourced through other companies.

On Monday morning, Oct. 1, around 30 union workers took up picket lines at three entrances to the Detroit Water and Sewerage wastewater treatment plant at 9300 W. Jefferson. Soon came the news that U.S. District Court Judge Sean F. Cox issued a temporary restraining order barring them from striking and interfering with operations at the plant. The judge ordered the unions to appear in court Oct. 11, to present their case why an injunction should not be ordered. Local 207 attorneys say U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox is barred by federal law from issuing injunctions against strikes or similar orders, under the Norris-LaGuardia Act.