Thursday, July 17, 2008

Embarrassed by AFSCME

Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick and the Greening of Detroit recently signed a deal to allow the Detroit-based non-profit to take over the abandoned W.I. Meyers Nursery, a 125-acre plot located inside Rouge Park that has been closed for more than three years. Unfortunately, Local 345 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees filed a lawsuit in the Wayne County Circuit Court to block this effort.

The union says their collective bargaining agreement applies to any deals to turn over control of city operations to a third party. My problem with their argument is that once the nursery stops operating, it is - by definition - no longer a city operation. This is especially true in cases like this where a tree nursery isn't a mandated function under the City of Detroit's Charter.

If AFSCME's argument is taken to its logical conclusion, no charity would be allowed to set up a soup kitchen or house the homeless because that is also something that the City of Detroit used to do.

If there were any city funds being used to re-open this for the Greening of Detroit then they would have a point. However, that simply isn't the case. Greening of Detroit is using private donations to support this effort.

The fact that AFSCME is blocking this deal is, in my opinion, an embarrassment to organized labor. Frivolous lawsuits like this are often used as example of why we shouldn't even have labor unions any longer and why Michigan should become a Right to Work state.

The whole thing is simply an embarrassment to Detroit and to the entire labor movement.

No comments: