Belabored #65: Inside the Motor City’s Economic Crash

Belabored #65: Inside the Motor City’s Economic Crash

Belabored talked to Michael Mulholland, president of the utilities union AFSCME Local 207 in Detroit, about last week’s financial deal, the impact on union workers, and the political forces driving what he calls a manufactured financial crisis.

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Last week, the embattled city of Detroit heralded its “rebirth” with a landmark financial deal, purportedly designed to avert economic disaster. Facing bankruptcy, the city’s finances, infrastructure, and civil service workforce have been ripped apart and stitched back together through a series of backdoor negotiations with state officials, Wall Street creditors, and Big Philanthropy. And the people who are paying the price, as usual, are the city’s residents and civil servants. Public sector workers will see their pensions gutted, and a city with a proud history of militant unionism will be dealt yet another punishing blow by politicians who seem intent on shredding what’s left of organized labor.

So what does it look like, from a worker’s perspective, to have the city “reborn” on the backs of the poor and communities of color? We talked to Michael Mulholland, president of the utilities union AFSCME Local 207, about how Detroit got into this mess, the impact on union workers, and the political forces driving what he calls a manufactured financial crisis.

Our news roundup takes stock of the the midterm election results, including a number of promising pro-labor ballot initiatives in—surprise—Red states, and a fresh uprising at Whole Foods in San Francisco. Plus, recommended reading on extreme daycare and digital peonage.

News

Republicans Hold the Top 2 Prizes in Governor Races (New York Times)

I Didn’t Vote for Pat Quinn, Because He’s Trying to Destroy My Pension (In These Times)

Michelle: Higher Minimum Wages Just Passed in Four States and Two Cities (The Nation)

Minimum Wage And Sick Leave Victories Buck The Conservative Voting Trend (Forbes)

Michelle: Minimum-Wage Workers Just Got a Raise, but Will Bosses Steal It? (The Nation)

Anchorage voters favor unions in repealing Mayor Sullivan’s labor law rewrite (Alaska Dispatch News)

IWW workers take on Whole Foods in SF (48hills)

Whole Foods Market Workers Unite!

Conversation:

Michael Mulholland, President, American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees Local 207

Bankruptcy costs Detroit retirees (Metro Times)

Five Things the Mainstream Media Won’t Tell You About Detroit’s Bankruptcy (Metro Times)

Detroit Emerges From Bankruptcy, Yet Pension Risks Linger (New York Times)

Belabored Podcast #16: Who Bankrupted Detroit? (Dissent)

Argh, I Wish I’d Written That!

Sarah: Alissa Quart, The Rise of Extreme Daycare (Pacific Standard)

Michelle: Shashank Bengali, In India, a new-generation peon at your service (Los Angeles Times)


Duggan | University of California Press Gardels