Traverse City Record-Eagle

July 11, 2013

Michigan in Brief: 07/11/2013

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — Judge reinstates law on teacher union dues

DETROIT — A Michigan law that prohibits school districts from helping unions collect dues is back on the books.

Federal Judge Denise Page Hood erased an injunction that had suspended the law for more than a year. She acted Wednesday after an appeals court recently struck down her 2012 decision.

The law was approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder. It stops payroll deduction of union dues paid by teachers and other school employees and forces them to write a check.

Hood said lawmakers were trying to starve unions. But the appeals court, in a 2-1 decision, said an end to payroll deduction doesn’t end a union’s right to free speech.

Restructuring team meets with workers

DETROIT — A restructuring team seeking to avoid the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history met Wednesday with representatives for Detroit’s public workers and retirees over a plan that would impose huge cuts on city pension and health programs.

After the two-hour meeting behind closed doors, some representatives for the workers complained they received no new information or financial figures related to the plan being floated by the city’s state-appointed emergency manager, Kevyn Orr.

“Really nothing was discussed other than we need future dialogue,” said Joe Barney, who represented emergency medical workers. “We’ve got to fix this place. It’s broken across the board. We’ve been going through this for two years. What do you do? You show up for work and see what happens.”

Detroit fountains shut down by vandalism

DETROIT — Two downtown Detroit fountains that are a popular place to cool off in the summer months are shut down.

The Detroit Free Press reports vandals did more than $1 million in damage to Hart Plaza in January, leaving the Horace E. Dodge and Son Memorial Fountain inoperable.

Parks Department director Alicia Minter says fixing the fountain will cost $300,000 to $400,000 and the cash-strapped city doesn’t have the money.

Detroit’s finances are being run by a state-appointed emergency manager and the city has a $380 million deficit.