Detroit Water Workers Strike Ends in Victory

BAMN October 4, 2012 Labor Movement, Social Justice Comments Off on Detroit Water Workers Strike Ends in Victory

All fired workers will be reinstated to their jobs

Victory won on the most important issues that led to the strike

Today, after further negotiations with DWSD management, Local 207 President John Riehl is proud to announce that the Local 207 Executive Board voted to end our strike today. Riehl said that the strike was a victory for the union and the City of Detroit. The decision to end the strike was made after management signed an agreement with the union to 1) reinstate all 36 fired workers, 2) to stop stonewalling and refusing to discuss union rights and job security and any of the other subjects covered by Judge Cox’s November order in bargaining, and 3) agreed to reopen the contract if Local 207 prevails at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in its lawsuit to strike down the anti-union parts of Judge Cox’s November order. Local 207 will return to the bargaining table immediately and union members will still have the opportunity to vote on any final contract settlement. The Local 207 lawsuit will be heard by the Appeals Court in Cincinnati next week on Tuesday, October 9, 2012.

“This is a victory for the City of Detroit because it has set the precedent that unions, the community and the City of Detroit can stand up against the whole array of powers-that-be and win. The courts, the Mayor, the Water Board Management, working in concert, could not defeat this strike and cannot defeat us if we unite and militantly fight together,” said John Riehl, AFSCME Local 207 President.

“This victory is a measure of the strength of Detroit as a whole.

If Judge Cox had not feared what the public response would have been if he had taken action against our union, this victory would never have been possible. Every city union should draw the conclusion from this victory that our unions have strength and with united action we do not have to accept management’s unilateral imposition of terrible wages and working conditions and continuous job insecurity. They should remember that one city-wide strike of all the public sector unions will have the complete backing of the community and can win.” said Michael Mulholland, Local 207 Secretary Treasurer.

“For thirty five years, our union and the workers of Detroit have been excluded from participation in the lawsuit that will determine the future of Detroit’s water supply. In just five days of striking, we achieved more to get our voices heard by the Court than all the legal maneuvers and lobbying ever achieved. Building on this victory, the people of Detroit can stop the privatization or suburban takeover of the Water Board and actually be able to improve and protect the environment and the water supply for the people of the Tri-County area,” said attorney Shanta Driver.

“The 34 workers of Crew five who led the walkout and started the strike are our heroes.

They took the bold action that was needed to get the strike started. They will all be returned to work. Union officials John Riehl, Michael Mulholland and Sue Ryan, all of whom received notice of a 30 day suspension pending termination today, their cases will be heard with the other 33 workers who were disciplined for their leadership of the strike.”Whatever happens to me, fighting side by side with the rest of my crew in this struggle is the greatest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’m so proud of my union which showed incredible resolve in the face of every conceivable threat and now has won a great victory,” said Sue Ryan, Local 207 Recording Secretary.

BAMN attorneys Shanta Driver and George Washington negotiated the settlement for Local 207.

“We are proud to be representing Local 207 in this fight. We are proud that our City stood behind this strike because without the support of the City we never would have won. If the people of Detroit draw the correct conclusion that we have the power to control the destiny of our City and its resources even when just a few of us stand up and fight to win, this struggle will have achieved a great deal,” said Shanta Driver.

“The workers of Local 207 have proved that militant collective action is needed to win and that we are building a new movement that can change the balance of power in this city forever.”

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About The Author

BAMN is a mass, democratic, integrated, national organization dedicated to building a new mass civil rights movement to defend affirmative action,integration, and the other gains of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and to advance the struggle for equality in American society by any means necessary.

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