Snyder Appointees On Michigan Civil Service Commission Undermine Collective Bargaining For State Workers
Michigan’s Civil Service Commission voted this week to amend rules governing collective bargaining for state employees. The commission prohibited bargaining over a number of subjects, including overtime assignments, seniority, transfers and recalls of laid off workers, gave the governor power to unilaterally alter worker contracts by declaring an undefined fiscal emergency, and allowing departments to pay an extra 20% premium to some hand-selected non-union employees. The last provision goes into effect immediately, the others at the beginning of 2019. The commissioners voting in favor were all appointed by Republican governor Rick Snyder.
Nick Ciaramitaro is Director of Legislation and Public Policy for Michigan AFSCME Council 25 and the Michigan State employees association.
[Nick Ciaramitaro]: “It’s a clear-cut attack on the collective bargaining system, and obviously that’s what unions do. I think this creates more problems than it solves by 1) eliminating collaboration in a number of critical areas and 2) straining the labor management relationship. Obviously this is the governor that signed Right-to-Work in Michigan, proposed it, pushed it and signed it into law, so I think his attitude toward collective bargaining rights speak for themselves in terms of his actions. It has worked for 40 years. That haven’t been any strikes in this state. There haven’t been any work stoppages. Our workforce has collaborated with multiple administrations to deal with serious fiscal crises on the understanding that while we’ve taken over the last decade probably ten and a half percent in terms of reductions in compensation and benefit in exchange for respect and dignity, which is the right to collectively bargain working conditions. We kept our end of the bargain.”
Ciaramitaro says many of these changes undermine the integrity of the state government:
[Nick Ciaramitaro]: “The Civil Service Commission was established over a hundred years ago in the face of rampant cronyism, nepotism and political patronage, and it was designed to overcome that. This won’t bring that old system back, where every time you elected a new governor you essentially had an entirely new workforce, but it does open up the door to corruption.”