Union's table time

In another city drama, locals of Detroit’s largest union are lining up to reject the proposed contract between AFSCME Council 25 and Mayor Kilpatrick’s negotiating team. That’s what News Hits hears from leaders at some locals. Council 25 represents some 5,400 workers and sets the tempo for contracts with the city’s other 12,000-odd union workers. Everyone’s staying tight-lipped on the matter (exact vote tallies weren’t available at press time) because if the workers reject the contract, it could be bad news all around — like layoffs and a strike. The mayor has already raised the specter of layoffs (nobody would lose their job under the current contract proposal), and all 18 AFSCME locals have authorized a strike should they remain without a contract by this summer. Local union presidents say the proposed contract lasts too long — five years — and delivers too little, including no raises for two years and 2 percent pay hikes in the following three years. Union workers have been without a contract since 2000; the last one was penned in 1995.

“It’s the absolute best contract on the table,” said Jamaine Dickens, Kilpatrick’s spokesman, last week. “The deal won’t be there if it’s rejected. There’s no way possible we can put a contract this good on the table again.”

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