Detroit Councilwoman is Under Fire over a City-Worker's Strike
- Just like I mentioned the other day folks! The saga just continues on and on. This is from today's Detroit News. Again, I highlighted those parts pertaining to DDOT.Sunday, August 1, 2004
Detroit councilwoman is under fire
Watson helps organize strike of city workers in the wake of layoffs
DETROIT � Councilwoman JoAnn Watson is helping organize a strike of municipal workers in response to layoffs across city departments and the school district.
According to transcripts from an evening City Council public hearing on Wednesday, Watson said she and her staff would help local union presidents mobilize by going to churches and employees to rally support.
The city law department said Friday it is illegal for a public official to participate in strike organizing.
�It�s a breach of council duty,� Shannon Holmes said. The lawyer said the city law department has been made aware of the situation and may act on it.
When the issue came up at council�s last meeting before its month-long break, Watson didn�t deny any role in helping with a potential strike.
On Friday, the layoffs of 112 transportation department workers took effect. To help address a $333 million budget shortfall, 260 other pink slips have been delivered.
But Watson accused Holmes of meeting �unconstitutionally� behind closed doors with some members of council and discussing her situation. She wants a grievance filed against Holmes.
Councilwoman Alberta Tinsley-Talabi, whom Watson named, said: �As God as my witness, I did not meet.�
In addition, she requested the law department and council research and analysis division file a report on Watson�s activities.
Councilwomen Sharon McPhail and Maryann Mahaffey also attended last week�s hearing.
�This is going way beyond what a City Council member can do,� said Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel of Watson�s actions.
AFSCME Local 207 President John Riehl said angry talk about the layoffs is simmering among workers.
�We�re going to explore all possibilities,� Riehl said when asked about a strike.
The latest council tension caps an irreverent week among members, who start vacation on Monday. The divided nine-member body carried out or attempted several actions before leaving.
Following several discussions and condemning Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick for giving them only one-week notice, the council agreed to allow five bond proposals � over a four-year period � totaling $215 million in capital improvements be placed on the November ballot.
(For more Info see Msg#600 in our archives)
�People need a breather,� said Councilwoman Barbara-Rose Collins, who voted against placing the measure before voters.
Earlier in the week she fruitlessly tried to hold all contracts worth more than $25,000 while on recess, except those for personnel and parts. Colleagues accused her of trying to slow down city government.
In a last-ditch effort to save the transportation jobs, Watson introduced an emergency ordinance to prevent layoffs for 60 days.
Ignoring legal advice from aides and the city law department that the move would just be a �piece of paper,� members voted anyway. The vote did not net a two-thirds majority as needed.
Councilwoman Kay Everett called it political grandstanding.
But Tinsley-Talabi introduced a resolution that would remove $1 million from the City Council budget to give transportation workers a 60-day reprieve. The vote was 5-4.
Alonzo Bates, Kenneth Cockrel Jr., Everett, and Mahaffey voted no. Sheila Cockrel, Collins, McPhail, Tinsley-Talabi and Watson voted yes.
The mayor will receive the resolution this week.(The above article is from the August 1, 2004 on-line edition of The Detroit News at: http://www.detnews.com/ )