Many communities are asking their unionized employees – including police officers and firefighters – to take temporary pay cuts. Warren is seeking a 15 percent pay cut while Detroit is asking for a 10 percent reduction.
Hamtramck employees were asked to take a 5 percent cut but that proposal was rejected. Hamtramck’s non-union employees and appointees have no choice and must take that cut. For them, it’s in the form of 13 unpaid days offs.
We can understand the universal rejection by many union employees when asked to accept a pay cut. These are mostly people with families struggling to make ends meet within their own home budget.
Most also feel that these so-called “temporary” reductions have a habit of becoming permanent. And it’s likely that once they accept one cut, another request for a cut in pay or benefits will follow in the near future.
But these are not typical times. Nationally, unemployment is unacceptably high and in Michigan it’s 14.8 percent. To tell the truth, if you add in those who no longer qualify to receive unemployment payment, some say the number of unemployed is around 25 percent.
Forget calling this a recession, this is an economic depression – the likes of which we have not seen since the Great Depression in the 1930s.
The big difference between then and now: Most of the jobs in manufacturing have been permanently lost. Why? Because Corporate America has been allowed to ship our decent paying jobs overseas or to Mexico where corporations can pay those workers pennies on the dollar. Today, if you have a job, you are considered lucky.
So, the trickledown effect for America — and especially the Detroit area — is local city governments have, or are about to, run out of money.
It begs the question, given the big picture of things, why would union members say no to modest pay cuts and instead allow their fellow union members to lose their jobs? Where’s their union solidarity and brotherhood?
Again, we understand the economic hardships employees face and having to bring home less money may not be an option. But what if you end up losing your job permanently and have to live on unemployment for a while and hope you can find another job?
That could happen to most of Hamtramck’s workforce and the employees of many cities if they continue to refuse to share the economic burden. We’re not saying this is the right thing to do, but really there is very little choice in the matter.
Many communities are going to be forced to merge services and possibly even merge their government with others. The writing is on the wall.
We don’t like it one bit either. But the thought of losing Hamtramck, of merging with Detroit, is an even worse choice. It’s up to you, Hamtramck city employees: take a painful cut now or wait until the ax falls later.