Thursday, March 17, 2011

Keep calling, Keep e-mailing!

Anti-labor bills still alive
  • Gov. Snyder signed the Emergency Manager bill today that assigns governor-appointed "takeover czars" to manage communities and school districts in financial trouble. The bill destroys local control and collective bargaining rights since this czar can eliminate elected bodies--like school boards--and can void employee contracts.
  • The House Education Committee heard testimony on House Bill 4306 after announcing that--as of last night--the bill no longer mandated privatization or acceptance of the lowest bid. However, the bill still requires school districts to bid out support services.
  • MEA Lobbyist Dave Stafford testified, addressing the impact privatization has on retirement costs. More than 30,000 current school employees could lose their jobs and the hidden costs of unemployment and retirement are not figured into a private company's bid for services. Currently, those "legacy costs" would be shifted to other employees and school districts.
  • A school custodian from Cheboygan and Frasier and the Ottawa ISD Superintendent Karen McPhee also testified in opposition to the bill.  All of them spoke of the redundancy of the bill since school districts can already privatize. McPhee said, "This bill looked reasonable before the creation of the Emergency Manager. This bill strips us of the tools to be fiscally responsible and heads us toward a takeover."
  • Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Scott, R-Grand Blanc, and Committee member Rep. Tom McMillan, R-Rochester Hills, often challenged those testifying. During Stafford's testimony, Rep. McMillan informed Stafford that, "Our focus is on the kids," and chastised him for not talking about students. Stafford replied, "Our focus is kids too. We work for the people who care deeply about kids."
  • The Senate Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing Committee heard testimony today on Senate Bill 7. It was pointed out that the bill is punitive and doesn't take into consideration the contributions public employees have already made in terms of wage cuts, and higher copays on benefits. The Committee will hear more testimony next week.
  • House Bill 4152, freezing wages and benefits during negotiations for a new contract, passed out of the Senate Education Committee.
Updated March 15, 2011

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