Aside from the reelection of President Barack Obama, labor unions in Michigan didn’t have many other victories to celebrate. They failed to insert collective bargaining rights into the state constitution, and now, the one victory unions could claim — the repeal of the state’s municipal emergency manager law — is being turned on its head. Gov. Rick Snyder has just signed into law a new emergency management law. (h/t Sean Higgins)
Unions previously objected to the legislation which grants the state the ability to review spending procedures of local municipalities who default on debt payments or loans. This meant the ability to reject or modify union contracts guaranteeing benefits the public treasury can’t afford and placing limits on the ability of crony politicians to continue track records of irresponsible spending. Just days after Snyder signed Right-to-Work legislation into law, he and his fellow Republicans in the state legislature are sticking it to unions once again:
Under the new law, the state could review the finances of a city or school district if the entity defaults on debt payments, has a six-month-old overdue bill of at least $10,000, fails to make payroll for a week or if requested by the governing body or chief administrative officer.
Cities and school districts in a financial emergency could choose from mediation, a state-supervised financial consent agreement, an emergency manager or Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy.
Under the old law, bankruptcy was only an option if an emergency manager determined it was the only viable option.
The new law is called Public Act 436 of 2012.
Emergency managers would have the ability to reject, modify or terminate labor union agreements — sweeping authority granted under the repealed 2011 law. Collective bargaining could be suspended for up to five years.
Oh noes! What will the unions do?!
Cities and school district governing boards could remove the emergency manager after one year by a two-thirds vote. After an emergency manager leaves, local officials would be barred from altering the manager’s spending plans, labor contracts and ordinances for two years.
“This legislation demonstrates that we clearly heard, recognized and respected the will of the voters,” Snyder said in a statement. “It builds in local control and options while also ensuring the tools to protect communities and schools districts’ residents, students and taxpayers.”
Who would’ve guessed four years ago that Wisconsin and Michigan would pass some of the strongest labor reforms in decades?