By now, most of our readers are probably aware that Hamtramck’s financial crisis has made national headlines.
The city’s request to go into bankruptcy made it to the pages of the New York Times, the Huffington Post and national network news.
We are the proverbial canary in the coal mine for hundreds — if not thousands — of other communities faced with similar financial woes. The loss of tax revenue and the ever-increasing costs for pensions and municipal workers are wiping out city budgets.
It is sadly not only a tale of American cities but of many states and heck, even the nation. Once an economic powerhouse, we are now driven poor by the loss of manufacturing jobs. Our jobs have been allowed to drift overseas and down to Mexico, where labor is dirt cheap and companies don’t have to bother with environmental regulations.
It’s heaven for manufacturers but hell for those left behind.
If you ask us, it’s a national disgrace that we have given American companies carte blanche to abandon us. It makes you wonder why American companies hate America so much. But that’s a topic that needs to be debated on the national stage.
In the meantime, we, as a city, have to figure out a way to survive. We have reported on this story for the past 12 months. The only solution left for city officials is to get city unions to agree to contract concessions. To make a long story short, the city needs less expensive health insurance and an end to minimum staffing requirements.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm has refused to allow Hamtramck to file for bankruptcy. She is leaving office for good at the end of this week.
Incoming Gov.-Elect Rick Snyder has given cryptic comments on his view of allowing Hamtramck to file for bankruptcy. He has been quoted saying he fully expects other communities to face the same choice during his first term.
Regardless of what Snyder will OK, we’ve read some interesting comments from some union employees. There are some union members who believe city officials are crying wolf and don’t really believe we’re in a financial crisis.
Unfortunately, there is a grain of truth to that. In the past, that is, when city officials would often use scare tactics as a form of contract negotiation.
This time, however, one only has to look around to see that this financial meltdown is bigger than Hamtramck. There are officially 15 million Americans without a job and many millions more working something less than fulltime and with few or no benefits.
We have allowed our country to become poor. That’s the economic reality facing us. If our union members want to keep their jobs, well, their fate rests with their hands.
Gov.-Elect Snyder has also been quoted saying he expects cities and public school districts to begin merging services.
We don’t know exactly how that will work out or whether Snyder’s proposal will eventually become one big court battle.
Nevertheless, the clock is running out for Hamtramck and we will be broke in the coming months if budget cuts aren’t made soon.
From our viewpoint, it would be prudent to agree to contract concessions just so we can keep our jobs and community intact.