MAKE THE BANKS AND THE ONE % PAY,
NOT THE WORKERS AND COMMUNITY
This November 6, unlike some Election Days, there are real reasons to go to the polls and vote. On the ballot are very important Proposals. A favorable outcome for labor and our communities will not only make a difference in our lives but will further the struggle of the working class in this hard-hit state.
SAY NO TO RACISM – VOTE NO ON PROPOSAL 1
For one, we can vote down the racist Public Act 4, Proposal 1 on the ballot. Public Act 4 is a clear violation of the letter and spirit of the hard won Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. These federal laws grew out of the mass struggle for African American equality and self-determination, which benefitted all oppressed and working people.
Denying the right of majority African-American populations to decide on their political representation harkens back to the era of Jim Crow when people were denied the right of participation based on race and national origin. The white supremacist ideas embodied in Public Act 4 must be defeated; otherwise the sacrifices of previous generations will have been in vain.
Also, there is no empirical evidence that would remotely suggest that emergency management and privatization of public services will result in greater efficiency and productivity. In fact the elimination of safeguards for universal suffrage, collective bargaining and due process has only weakened democracy and brought about drastic declines in employment and living standards.
PUBLIC ACT 4 IS A BANKERS’ BILL
The Emergency Manager Act guarantees the banks “payment in full of the scheduled debt service requirements on all bonds, notes and municipal securities,” even if it means selling city assets, laying off workers, cutting city services, breaking union contracts and attacking the pension system. Governor Snyder’s and Mayor Bing’s “financial stability agreement” incorporates these guarantees to the banks by giving them direct control the of city finances.
Big banks, with fraudulent and racist predatory loans that led to hundreds of thousands of foreclosures and evictions, caused the economic crisis that destroyed the tax base of Detroit, Flint, Highland Park, Benton Harbor, Pontiac and cities throughout Michigan. These same banks have bled our cities dry with their ruthless lending practices. For example, the Detroit Financial Review Team’s Report notes that in the last fiscal year the City of Detroit paid $597 in debt service to the banks. The city owes $16.9 billion to the banks, including $4.9 billion in interest (profit) alone; 80% of state payments to Detroit Public Schools are earmarked for debt service.
This massive debt, just like the debt of Stockton, Harrisburg and hundreds of other U.S. cities and entire nations like Greece and Spain, is a product of criminal activity by the banks—as evidenced by the recent LIBOR scandal which caused cities to default on billions in bonds as a result of predatory interest rate swaps.
Why should these banks, who we bailed out with TRILLIONS of our tax dollars, get paid first? The banks owe Michigan cities billions in reparations for the destruction they have caused. Rather than strip power from democratically elected governments, Governor Snyder and Attorney General Schuette should go after the banks to repay the billions stolen from the people of Michigan, the hardest hit state in the country. The elected officials in Detroit, Flint, Benton Harbor, etc., should declare a moratorium on all debt service to these vultures. Suspending debt service payments would immediately resolve the cities’ fiscal crises and allow for the restoration of city services and the recall of laid-off city workers.
During the Great Depression, Mayor Frank Murphy of Detroit pushed for a Moratorium on Debt Service when he led the National Conference of Mayors. Let’s show the way again by voting NO to the dictator Emergency Manager Bill and to the banksters the law is intended to serve. This can be a big step in launching a struggle to take back our cities from the banksters. No on 1!
SAY NO TO UNION-BUSTING – DEFEND COLLECTIVE BARGAINING
Proposal 2 would amend the Michigan state constitution to “grant public and private employees the constitutional right to organize and bargain collectively through labor unions.” It would also “invalidate existing or future state or local laws that limit the ability to join unions and bargain collectively, and to negotiate and enforce collective bargaining agreements, including employees’ financial support of their labor unions.”
This initiative could not be timelier, with over 80 union-busting bills introduced since Governor Rick Snyder took office. Over 30 have already been signed into law, including Public Act 4. Other bills interfere with teachers unions’ ability to collect dues, or deny collective bargaining rights to research assistants at public universities. Under consideration are bills to ban mass picketing by public employees and remove restrictions on hiring strikebreakers, and to make it easier for bosses who want to get unions decertified. These are just a few of the despicable bills that Proposal 2 would block or overturn.
If the Proposal—which was placed on the ballot through a mass, grass-roots mobilization that collected over 800,000 signatures—passes it will be a huge step forward for the labor movement, and by extension the whole working class. A victory would come a year after unions and community allies in Ohio defeated Issue 2, the state ban on collective bargaining for all public sector unions, by a two-to-one margin.
Proposal 2 is particularly important to public workers, who do not have collective bargaining rights under federal labor law. This amendment would guarantee teachers, health care professionals, firefighters, bus drivers, and many other unionized workers what the National Labor Relations Act has afforded to private sector workers since 1935. It is past time for that act’s protections to be extended to all public sector workers, a huge percentage of which are women and people of color.
From the standpoint of workers and unions—who have had to fight tooth and nail, often by striking, for every crumb they could get off the bosses table—Proposal 2 has serious flaws. If it passes, “laws may be enacted to prohibit public employees from striking.” Promotions would be based on merit, not seniority. Perhaps the authors of the amendment were hoping to convince anti-union forces that collective bargaining isn’t so bad. This has clearly not happened. The one per centers have coalesced to defeat Proposal 2. They must be set back at the polls and Proposal 2 must be supported even with its limitations. Yes on 4!
VOTE YES ON PROPOSAL 4 – DEFEND HOME HEALTH CARE WORKERS’ RIGHTS
In addition, Proposal 4 will give collective bargaining rights to some of the lowest paid and hardest working people—in-home caregivers. Proposal 4 also creates a Michigan Quality Home Care Council which will establish some basic standards to protect rights of both workers and patients and provide funding to help patients with the cost of in-home care. Yes on 2!
YES ON 3—NO TO DTE AND CONSUMERS ENERGY!
Proposal 3 would mandate that, by 2025, 25 per cent of energy generated in Michigan would come from renewable sources such as wind and solar power, and would hold annual utility rate increases to one per cent. Some of the same moneyed interests (like the Michigan Chamber of Commerce) who oppose Proposal 2 are funding the opposition to Proposal 3. DTE wants you to vote no—but WE need clean and affordable power. Yes on 3!
DEFEAT THE ONE PERCENTER AT THE POLLS – THEN TAKE THE STRUGGLE TO THE STREETS
We can beat the one per centers at the polls in November. Passing these proposals will be a defeat for racism and a huge morale-booster for the union movement, which has seen its hard-fought gains rolled back repeatedly, ever since President Ronald Reagan broke the air traffic controllers union. It will empower workers and oppressed people to fight back—just like we did in the 1930s, when it was the thousands of strikes and sit-downs involving millions of workers that compelled the government to uphold union rights, and in the 1960s when the powerful Civil Rights and Black Liberation movements forced progressive legislation and broke up apartheid segregation.
ISSUED BY: MORATORIUM NOW! COALITION TO STOP FORECLOSURES, EVICTIONS & UTILITY SHUT-OFFS
Oct. 2, 2012