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Michigan – Workers Fight Dictatorial Law

Repeal Local ‘Dictator’ Law
Repeal Local ‘Dictator’ Law | Members of Michigan Council 25 kick off their referendum campaign to repeal Public Act 4, also known as the Emergency Manager Law. But to opponents, it’s a dictatorial law that would allow unelected officials to repeal workers’ rights. (Photo by Michigan AFSCME News)

AFSCME and other progressive activists are well on their way toward the goal of collecting at least 160,000 valid voter signatures in their campaign to repeal a law allowing officials — unelected ones, no less — the right to void collective bargaining agreements and take other actions designed to weaken workers’ rights.

The contested law, passed earlier this year, bequeaths sweeping powers on “emergency managers” appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder (R). For example, the power to remove elected officials from office; suspend or disband elected bodies such as school boards or city councils; even void contracts — including, as noted, collective bargaining agreements.

If the petition drive achieves its goal, a repeal measure will be placed on the November 2012 ballot and the law will be put on hold pending the outcome of that vote.

“It is essential that we pursue this course of action,” says Council 25 Pres. (and International vice president) Albert Garrett. “Too many people have fought and died for our right to vote for us to allow representative government to fall by the wayside in this cavalier manner.”

In June, while the petitions were being circulated, more than 2,500 activists — including members of Council 25 — rallied throughout the state to argue forcefully that workers’ rights are fundamentally and inviolably American. “This law takes away my right to have a say in our local governments and schools,” said Jonathan Drake, a Wayne County employee of the Department of Public Services and a member of Local 101 (Council 25). Added Drake, who joined 300 other activists demonstrating in Detroit, “We can’t let unelected officials usurp our basic rights and take our democracy away.”

Stand Up for Democracy, a coalition of community groups, churches and labor organizations throughout Michigan, spearheaded the petition drive.

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