The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Detroit:
Make the Mayor Pay, Not the Workers

Nov 28, 2011

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing gave the city’s union workers one week to accept 1,000 layoffs, a 10% wage cut, a 30% employee contribution to health care premiums, pension cuts, a decrease in job classifications and reduced overtime. If they don’t, Bing says he’ll ask Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to appoint an emergency financial manager – who would have the power to break union contracts and impose cuts over the heads of the Detroit City Council. In other words, it’s an outright extortion threat.

As he has time after time, whether in response to the city’s failing bus service, the city’s lighting system, or its sewer system, Bing blames city workers for the city’s problems.

No, city workers are not to blame for the city’s budget crisis. Politician after politician caused it – Bing and earlier mayors or Snyder and previous governors handed piles of money over to big corporations in the form of huge tax breaks.

In 2006, a Detroit News analysis showed the city loses 63 million dollars in revenue every year due to corporate tax exemptions. That amount can only have grown in the meantime, as General Motors, Blue Cross, and Vanguard Health System have all been given new handouts. Just in the past two weeks, the city gave out tax breaks amounting to millions of dollars to Meijer and Detroit Renewable Power.

Now Bing is proposing to hand over the city’s bus service and the lighting system to private for-profit companies, which could cost the city more money.

Bing says the city has a budget shortfall of 45 million dollars for this fiscal year. If the city was losing 63 million dollars per year to corporate tax breaks in 2006, it must be 80 or 90 million dollars today. That would be enough to pay the deficit, hire more city workers and restore the city’s bus, sewer and lighting systems. Get the money from the corporations, not city workers!