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Posted on Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 2:20 p.m.

Is Rick Snyder outsourcing union busting in Michigan?

By Nathan Bomey

Gov. Rick Snyder knows a thing or two about outsourcing.

During the former Ann Arbor venture capitalist's 2010 gubernatorial campaign, of course, the Republican was repeatedly, albeit misleadingly, accused of outsourcing jobs as an executive at computer-maker Gateway in the 1990s.

He may not have outsourced jobs as an executive at Gateway, but he clearly understands the power of outsourcing as a business model.

Rick Snyder at Ardesta office.JPG

Gov. Rick Snyder, pictured here during his campaign, proposed municipal government reform this morning.

Lon Horwedel |

Which is why he's structuring his governmental reform initiative to force local governments to extract concessions from unions, instead of doing the fighting himself.

And it's why he successfully pushed legislation that allows the state to install emergency financial managers to fix fiscally distressed cities and school districts.

If we've learned anything from Snyder's first 80 days as a politician, it's this: He is no Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin who started his first term by pressing the Wisconsin Assembly to strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights.

You don't have to take a political science class to know that it's much smarter, politically, to get what you want by forcing someone else to fight for it.

That's the model Snyder laid out this morning with his proposal to require municipal governments to fight unions for public employee compensation cuts, share services regionally and consider legal consolidation opportunities.

The 11-page proposal Snyder submitted to the Michigan Legislature would force cities and municipalities to scramble to claw back state funding by implementing a long list of reforms. Those would include incentivizing cities to require new employees to pay 20 percent of their health care premiums and making new employees' retirement plans look a lot more like 401(k)-style plans than pensions.

Those two elements alone are enough to inspire fury among organized labor supporters.

State Sen. Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, said in a statement that Snyder's plan is "an attempt to end collective bargaining as we know it through local mandates."

Clearly, that's not how Snyder would characterize it.

"These proposed reforms will accomplish several goals for Michigan," Snyder said in his proposal. "Most importantly, local leaders will have the ability to control short- and long-term costs. By controlling costs, local governments can maintain critical public safety, infrastructure and quality of life services. The continued provision of these services will enhance the long-term competitiveness and economic vitality of Michigan’s commercial centers and the entire state."

Snyder says this is a reconfiguration of how government operates. Cities don't get automatic payouts just because they exist. They have to adopt reforms to get the pool of dollars formerly referred to as "statutory revenue sharing."

(This is similar to how the federal government structured the "Race to the Top" program, which forced states to embrace education reform to get a piece of stimulus funding.)

Here's what Snyder is doing: He's forcing cities to fight public employee unions block by block, city by city.

Why try to axe public workers' collective bargaining rights — which Snyder has refused to pursue — when you can nudge cities to get cost concessions on your behalf?

Ironically, this proposal gives cities the political cover to fight for concessions, too. At the bargaining table, municipal politicians can just play the Snyder card: "The nerd made us do it."

Is Snyder outsourcing the union busting?

Well, he himself says in his proposal that "state government can enable and encourage, but communities themselves must lead the way."

First, of course, he has to get the Legislature to adopt his proposals — a tall order indeed.

But, politically, he's getting much more creative than Scott Walker.

It's much easier to have your colleagues punch someone in the face, than to do it yourself.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Sun, Mar 27, 2011 : 10:58 a.m.

It has always been my thought that the business community should enact a comprimise that would have employers give all employees a raise then let them purchase their own retirement and health care for themselves. Serious thought should be put to making Michigan a right to work state as well. Everyone would be on even ground then.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 11:26 p.m.

To those who want to impoverish municipal workers, would you like to plow your streets, fight fires, and arrest home invaders who act more with no police cruisers around? The point is that if someone is going to get the wages of unskilled jobs when they do skilled jobs that required concentrated training, then why would they want to do the harder jobs and not get paid for them?


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 1:01 p.m.

The term is called "WHIPSAWING". It means to pit one segment of an organization against another. We've seen it in the UAW for years when Ford, GM, and Chrysler would offer new work to two or more plants and let them start offering changes in work rules, wages, etc. It only accomplished one thing, a division in the workforce and leadership of the Union. It seems Mr. Snyder has taken a classic play from the corporate playbook. The only ones that won in the auto industry is management. The jobs were still outsourced when workers couldn't or wouldn't meet their demands. That was the major reasons that jobs went to Mexico, South America, etc. Now Mr. Snyder wants to pit one city against the other. One School against the other. One Teacher against the other. One Union (private against public) against the other. One citizen against the other. Starting to get the picture? Had corporations in this State acted with any other motive but greed we wouldn't have this issue. Basically, the auto industry destroyed itself by destroying manufacturing and moving good paying jobs out of the State and Country. The only ones that will lose in this process is US! You and I and all of our friends and family. Mr. Snyder's corporate friends will not lose. They will still rake in huge profits and sit back and watch while WE fight it out like a starving dogs over a bone.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 11:30 p.m.

It's called "divide and conquer." There is a movement to pit progressive workers and tea party workers against each other in order to conquer the middle class.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 7:19 p.m.

Dennis - That is your take on things, and you may be right. Another way to look at this, is the state is out of money, so why not offer what little is left to the places it will go the farthest and encourage folks to make it go further in the future. glass half empty, glass half full.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 6:57 p.m.

Nonsense. The challenge is to work together, not against each other. And the "management" in your analogy are US, the taxpayers. It is not unreasonable to ask for accountability of taxpayer dollars.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 4:32 a.m.

To Applewhite and Snoopdog: First to Snoopdog - yes, if I live long enough, I might get back more than I might have invested (and when I said earlier I have over the years invested hundreds of thousands of dollars of my own money in my own future, I was not counting what interest my own personal investments should have earned). So you might be right. It's a crap shoot. Who knows. It's a gamble for all of us. Myself as well as my employer. I gambled when I chose to reduce my income by 60% to help the state out (and, yes, since we are being totally honest, I was afraid of what might occur in the future had I not - will Michigan keep the promise it made to the 16,000 or more educators who chose to retire last year or will they change that promise?). So, I gambled the state won't let me down; the state gambled that I won't live to be an octogenarian and beyond. Who's going to win this bet? Only time will tell. And to Applewhite - don't insult public employees by saying "IF" we made contributions. Are you an expert on public employee finances? Do you know any public employees who don't make contributions to their pensions because I sure don't! I will give you that perhaps many might not match what they "might" otherwise put into a 401K as you presume. Perhaps with a larger salary, we might have. We chose public service instead because we believed in our sector of it (like teaching - trust me, no one thought, "Hey, I have a great way to make money! Let's be a teacher!") So to correct any faulty assumptions you seem to have, Mr. Applewhite, public employees, no matter how small, DO indeed make contributions out of their pay to their pensions. It's required.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 7:18 p.m.

The public sector needs to berestructured If people are unhappy with their jobs they should quit....or stop complaining That is how the private sector works


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 7:17 p.m.

dogpaddle - Where I grew up in the UP, the state employees were the rich folks, they lived in the big houses and had hunting shacks. They drove the new cars. The rest of us had rust buckets, I think they call farming in the UP subsistence farming. Just because the wage scale in Ann Arbor is high, don't assume it is high in the whole state. Most of the UP would kill for $30,000 a year for a job.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 6:01 p.m.

Yep Bragg, that is THE answer. Let us lay off ALL public employees and have our work done at "cost-plus". We have seen how effective this is in balancing the federal budget.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 11:10 a.m.

I would quit your state job and get a new job if I were you...

Joel A. Levitt

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 3:13 a.m.

The Governor thinks that he is Machiavelli. Either he or we are stupid.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 1:19 a.m.

With every new article about what Rick is doing, I could not be happier. I feel like a kid waking up on Christmas morning every time ! We love ya Rick, keep up the good work ! Good Day


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 5:58 p.m.

Ahh, till you awaken one morning to a house fire, and the fire dept takes an hour to show up. then you will whine about poor govt service.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 3:35 a.m.

Au contraire Snoopdog. You don't speak for all of us, certainly not for me. You may LOVE Rick Snyder but there are plenty of us that don't share your love or child like enthusiasm for his folly.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 12:47 a.m.

he's a bad idea waiting to happen


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 12:41 a.m.

So long union busting creates more jobs, then I guess I am OK with it.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 12:15 a.m.

What is wrong with this picture? Snyder blames the locals for not doing what is needed for their towns. Real Estate values have pretty much tanked, through no fault of the locals. Property taxes are capped by several state laws. What is a municipality to do? Cut all salaries to the bone or else we won't give you any revenue sharing. That means more cuts to Police, Fire, and street maintenance. The AA Police chief just wrote a letter about how much folly these cuts are to our Police department and how unsafe AA is becoming. We have to do this or face the wrath of Bizarro Robin Hood Rick who takes from the poor while giving to the rich. He keeps the Reagan mantra of tax cuts while making everything in government smaller including the safety of the citizens of these towns. I refuse to pay my public security workers less, they lay their lives on the line every day to protect my family! Now the "Jack In The Box"" politics (why would anyone campaign on breaking unions and cities, surprise them with this after the election!) of Snyder and his tea party cronies are now starting to threaten me and my familys safety. it's time to stop the tax breaks for business and the rich and the dismantling of our public safety departments and school systems. To all of you Tea people who are jumping up and down with glee and saying we told you so, it's your safety and your kids educations that are going down the drain also. Oh, silly me, Ricks kid goes to a private school, no worries about her education!


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 7:13 p.m.

Rick's daughter wanted to go with her friends, he still pays school tax and tuition. 1) The Federal Stimulus money got spent by the state, without using it to fix anything - they just kicked the can down the road 2) The state cannot run a deficit nor print money 3) You can see the fight in Lansing over any of the tax increase (including corporate), loophole closing or abatement changes. So tell me how you are going to raise taxes in this state - realistically 5) Given 1 to 3, what choices do we have?


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 11:14 p.m.

I have several nephews leaving the State and I may just hitch a ride with them. Let us know how the remaining taxpayers in Michigan make out when it's all said and done. Just leave a message on our voice mail or give it to the others who will follow us. LOL.

Dante Marcos

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 10:49 p.m.

It's like the Governor is organizing a new dogfighting ring; the problem is that most of the dogs to be entered have only three legs. And the chairs set up around the ring will be mostly empty, save for a few CEOs peppered here and there.

Stephen Landes

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 10:10 p.m.

The poll needs at least one more option: they will whine about it. Local governments need to take their sovereignty seriously and get their financial houses in order. They cannot sit back and hope for a bail out from the State when they head into bankruptcy. Stop whining and start acting.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 1:05 a.m.

I'd add local government shouldn't expect the State of Mi to stand behind their junk bonds when bankruptcy is the obvious solution. Of course, bankrupt municipalities aren't obligated to contracts anymore than GM was and this is the reason we have Emergency Financial Mgr's.!


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 9:54 p.m.

I wish the union-bashing would slow down a little. Many unions pay significant amounts toward their health care, and many have defined contribution plans, like 401k plans, where the employee contributes a substantial amount, and the employer gives, depending on the employer, a matching amount, or more, or less. All of these things are bargained for. Public employees have a pension plan because that was the agreement. They opted for security in retirement rather than big pay raises. Please check: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 9:58 p.m.

Thank you, BHarding! You are absolutely right and I appreciate your recognizing the facts.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 9:36 p.m.

That's why Snyder hired Roger Fraser who's quite experienced at union busting.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 9:21 p.m.

To Macabre: You seem to be confused. YOU don't owe me a cent. This is MY money. I have paid into Social Security all of my working life. I paid part of each paycheck every two weeks toward my pension just the same as I would've had it been a 401K. This isn't YOUR money! This is MY money. I paid for it. I invested in my future. And now at just a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands I have invested over my entire working life which has been several decades, I am getting a tiny bit of that back at a time. And YOUR state and MINE asked me to get out and save them money. And I did just that. Again, I ask, what are YOU doing?


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 1:15 a.m.

The truth is dogpaddle, if you retired &quot;early&quot; as you indicated, you will get back way more than you ever put into your retirement, and that goes for both your pension and social security. That is a fact you cannot dispute ! Good Day

Marshall Applewhite

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 10:16 p.m.

If you worked in the public sector, I strongly doubt your pension contributions(If you contributed at all) were anywhere near the majority of 401k contributions.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 8:25 p.m.

All of the local governmental units created this fiscal mess and you want Rick Snyder to clean it up? He's just putting it back in the hands of those who are responsible to fix it. Any government official with half a brain knew there were all of these unfunded promises made and now everyone acting suprised and angry. I'm not a government official nor do I play one on TV but I knew there were billions of dollars of unfunded retirement packages out there. But I don't get my news from MTV, The Daily Show, or the Colbert Report. The smart ones already jumped off of the gravy train and took the booty and left the rest of you to fend for yourself. They &quot;Madoff&quot; with all of the money and left the till dry.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 9:19 p.m.

Try Trillions Mike. There is an Ernst and Young report that shows the unfunded pension and health care issues are more than 1 trillion dollars when you look at all levels of government and do not include social security.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 8:24 p.m.

Those of you who are bashing government workers may not be taking into consideration the following: those of us who chose public over private knew we were going to get paid less but compensated more. That was the trade off. This is still true today. Government workers are still paid less than their private sector counterparts. Yes, in today's market, our benefits are looking pretty good considering what private did to yours and I'm very sorry for that. Seriously. Secondly, I'm tired of hearing about shared sacrifice. I made mine. I am now living on 40% of my former teacher salary (yes, that &quot;enormous teacher salary&quot; - and, yes that was sarcastic) as I took the state up on their retirement incentive (and punishment if you don't) last year to save the state money. My retiree health care is now a 1/6 of what I was paying as a teacher (with my modest salary, I was paying 600 a month for health care, now over a 100 and I'm getting a fraction of the care, but albeit, health care which I am grateful to have). And for the record, I DO pay copays - every single time I go see a doc or get a prescription filled. What I want to know for all of you who are bashing us public employees, where is YOUR shared sacrifice? What are YOU doing to balance the budget besides bashing us? Huh? And why are we ALL not uniting together against the common enemy and why is gov not doing something about it and that is out of sight health care costs? If health care wasn't so costly to offer its employees (just as corporate does), then cities and school districts and the state wouldn't be so cash-strapped! And why has the government borrowed from what used to be well-funded pensions and Social Security to pay for things not all of us taxpayers agree on?


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 11:10 p.m.

I agree with you on the health care issue - that cost will bankrupt everything no matter what reforms are instituted. I also agree with you that teachers (and former teachers) are not the enemy. In fact, I believe you were underpaid for the work you did. However, and unfortunately, the benefits packages may have been nothing more than Ponzi schemes. As long as more money was coming in, those taking money out can benefit. The scheme collapses when everyone wants to take money out and there isn't enough to replace it. Was it fair for Irving Picard to ask for clawbacks from those who benefited from Madoff's Ponzi scheme?


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 9:38 p.m.

Or the Koch Brothers

David Briegel

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 9 p.m.

macabre, I only wish you felt the same about the Chamber of Commerce!

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 8:34 p.m.

Why is it &quot;bashing&quot; to question the results of bargaining between an advocacy group and a group spending someone else's money? Snyder was elected because there is, ultimately, accountability for reckless government. I'm not sure why you feel you're owed so much by the taxpayers when you're no longer working. Only the most naive amongst us think there will even be Social Security when those of us currently under 50 retire.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 8:21 p.m.

Actually, he is worse that Scott Walker. At least Walker was straight forward about what he was doing. Snyder is much more cowardly. He is still busting on the workers but is forcing the local governments to do his dirty work for him. He is just a different kind of slime.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 11:03 p.m.

If by &quot;dirty work&quot; you mean negotiate then, yes, that's what he's doing. Collective bargaining still exists so what is the problem? Local governments will no longer be able to make unsustainable contracts. Local governments and unions will actually have to work together rather than against each other. What Gov. Snyder is proposing is a challenge for us to work together on a local level. We can complain about the challenge or we can rise to the occasion. Which do you choose?


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 9:39 p.m.

Snyder hired Ann Arbor City administrator to teach municipal officials how to do the dirty work.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 9:16 p.m.

Which public sector union are you part of TC? Are you a union official?


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 8:19 p.m.

It's about time!! For both city and state workers. Copy the FERS system for federal employees and they will see an even higher contribution to health care premiums.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 8:18 p.m.

What have we learned in 2,064 years? &quot;The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.&quot; - Cicero - 55 BC Evidently nothing..


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 6:44 p.m.

Clownfish - We have thousands of adults in this state who have never held and job. Many of them never will. That to me is the dole. Public employees do work, no question, but do we run government for the larger body of taxpayers or do we run it for the employees?


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 3:19 p.m.

Public employees DO work. That is what is so obscene about the current argument, the assumption that all public employees are somehow on a dole. We are all Romans now! It was nice while the Empire lasted.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 9:42 p.m.

The difference is that the CEO's can afford to hire accountants and lawyers to make their taxes go away. The poor working stiff can't


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 9:40 p.m.

I don't suppose you consider Social Security and Medicare public assistance?


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 9:15 p.m.

Smiley - Thank you!


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 8:14 p.m.

Frightening to think of how many cities in Michigan have been suffering for years with huge unemployment. Nice of the Gov. to punish those that don't live up to his expectations. The State of Michigan is not a corporation yet. Also: Governor Snyder proposed a budget that would result in a $45 million reduction (or 21% cut) in state funding support to Wayne State University. This reduction, the largest single-year state budget cut proposed by a Governor in Wayne State's history, would negatively impact both the university's teaching and research. In contrast, he proposes a $12 million increase to corrections and prisons. The future certainly looks bleak.

Audion Man

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 6:59 p.m.

They should outsource the state universities to, say, The University of Phoenix, too. That will also make everything better.

David Briegel

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 8:56 p.m.

Wait till they outsource corrections to a for profit company! I'm certain that will make things better.

DaLast word

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 8:09 p.m.

The term union busting is designd to stir the union pot and make this a bigger issue then it really is. The fact is that the unions have grown too powerful in the last 20+ years. Turning what was once necesary into a pot of greed for union leaders. Reference: the lyrics to Bob Dylan's song &quot; Sundown on the union, it sure was a good idea until greed got in the way&quot; Union leaders see this as an assult to every reason they have to esist, that's why they will charactrize this in any way they can. Without barganing we don't need them. Granholm had her chance and the situation in this state worsened. We must have bold leadership.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 3:22 p.m.

Public employee unions have taken pay cuts, furlough days, reduced hours etc. I have to say I am truly amused that all of a sudden &quot;the right&quot; has determined that everybody else needs to make personal sacrifice for the collective good. Flip flop.

Marshall Applewhite

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 10:12 p.m.

@bugjuice If you're referring to private sector unions, you'd be absolutely correct. However, this article is speaking purely about public sector unions, which haven't been on the decline at all.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 9:44 p.m.

Union membership and influence has been on the decline for 30 years since Reagan busted up the Air Traffic Controllers. Stop making things up and promulgating false Republican talking points


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 7:46 p.m.

I think all public pensions should be replaced by 401K plans. As long as the plan offers sufficient options it is better for both sides. It will make sure that the systems are funded, they are portable and it allows the employee to decide how much to risk against possible reward.

Audion Man

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 6:57 p.m.

I think the vast majority of public pensions have been replaced by 401(k)s. So rest assured there will be plenty of opportunities for large banks to rip us off.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 11 p.m.

Agree with bugjuice - pensions themselves aren't necessarily the problem. In fact, they force people to save enough to actually have enough money to retire. 401(k)'s on the other hand are probably underfunded by most people and this is going to be a big problem down the road.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 9:45 p.m.

Then lose everything when the Robber Barons and Wall Street Bankers tank the economy after they skim theirs off the top.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 8:23 p.m.

Right on!


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 7:46 p.m.

The opposition will do more than throw a tantrum. They will throw him and his cronies out of office in the next election. Mark my words the opposition is way more fired up than the Tea Partiers ever dreamed of being.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 5:54 p.m.

Actually, it is a small amount of the population squeaking, it just so happens that they have the top rated cable &quot;news&quot; programs and the ability to give multi-million dollar grants to AEI, Heritage Foundation, PACS etc.

Marshall Applewhite

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 10:09 p.m.

I agree, the opposition is fired up. The only problem is, 5% of the population is currently making 75% of the loud noise. If loud noise were the basis for electing public officials, you'd be absolutely right.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 9:13 p.m.

Ronaldduck - If unemployment in the state is under 5 percent in 2014, I suspect you will be wrong. On the other hand if it is around 10 percent, I suspect you are right.

Top Cat

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 7:28 p.m.

The supporters of the stagnant quo in Michigan are becoming shrill in their opposition to the Governor's reform, silly in many of their characterizations of them and annoying in their lack of any tangible solutions to the State's problems. The Opposition needs to do more than just throw a tantrum.

Marshall Applewhite

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 10:06 p.m.

The opposition doesn't know any other way to resolve problems. Acting like a petulant child has successfully worked for them since an early age, so why stop now? There's a reason these people are entirely devoid of any real problem solving abilities...........


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 9:12 p.m.

TC - Let's see. Retirement income of $1500 a month, no other income, Total annual income $18,000 - annual taxes under the new program roughly $318 Executive earning $250,000 a year - taxes under the new program $10,625 dollars. See they both pay the same amount of taxes, right?


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 8:25 p.m.

Tangible solution? Tax those who can afford to be taxed not those at the bottom rungs. I am one who is having my taxes raised - my bet is that yours aren't.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 7:15 p.m.

These minimums Snyder is proposing are at least on the same planet as the benefits available in the private sector. A friend of mine works for the government in a relatively low-level job. He recently expressed fury that he was now being asked for a $10 co-pay when he went to the doctor. He doesn't even know what a premium is, because he doesn't pay one. In the meantime, my insurance bill, which is for a package Obama is trying to make illegal (a $6,000 deductible), went up 50% in the last few months. What the union rank-and-file don't seem to understand is that benefits cost a lot of money. My friend's insurance plan costs the taxpayers about $10,000 a year. He's not even taxed for that. He doesn't pay a dime (well, now he may pay $20 a year). Pensions aren't something we in the private sector can expect, either. They cost a lot of money. In both cases, local governments have been negotiating in bad faith for the taxpayers for years. Negotiating is a tough, ugly process. And it's too easy to give up and hand over the keys to the store when you're negotiating with someone else's money. Reform here is absolutely necessary. And if having a job with benefits that match those available in the private sector is too much for a government employee to bear, he or she is quite free to quit and work in the private sector.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 8:21 p.m.

Audion Man - So if it was in one contract it can never be negotiated out of another contract? That is the way it has to work? Pay and benefits can only go up? Funny that is not what happened at the major automakers in the state or most of their suppliers, where to keep union members working, the unions gave back. They had a choice, lower pay and more jobs or higher pay and fewer jobs. They choose more jobs. The feeling I get is you would choose less jobs. Am I right?

Audion Man

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 6:52 p.m.

Your &quot;questions&quot; seem to be directed solely at state employees. Funny, there seems to be a coordinated 'bout of &quot;questions&quot; these days about state employees. Apparently, a big totally coincidental number of &quot;questions&quot; are being asked about state employees... When you go back violate agreements that were made in good faith, and cut salaries that is playing with someone else's money... You can cravenly call it &quot;asking hard questions&quot; but it seems to me, to be about playing with someone else's money. Most of you will not benefit one iota from all the tax breaks given to businesses and the wealthy... but you will gleefully turn on your peers who have managed eek out a slightly better deal instead of asking yourselves, how could I, perhaps get a better deal. I don't understand how the powers that be have managed to convince the middle class to gleefully and purposefully slit their own throats.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 6:36 p.m.

I am not going after anyone Audion Man, I am asking questions. Hard questions, but the same questions businesses ask. In this case, can we afford to let people continue to retire at 46 and 55, which was old age in the 1940s when the ages were established, and middle age now. How is that playing with OPM?

Audion Man

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 1:44 p.m.

@DonBee You, too, seem to be playing with Other People's Money. But instead of our poor overburdened corporations and wealthy people, you are going after the Union folks.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 1:09 p.m.

i too have an anecdote! I have a family member that puts his life on the line daily for Macabre. Of course he is OVERPAID! I know this because Macabre says so. I also know that a private sector worker in a similar position makes from $900-1200 a DAY. But, that guy does not get insurance, so my relative must have the better deal, right? I know that when it comes to CEO's and such the &quot;rights&quot; clarion call has been &quot;you get what you pay for&quot;. That was then, this is now. It is perfect logic that if we pay government workers less, we will get better employees. Right? It make sense, because that is how the Market works!


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 2:20 a.m.

I'm good with it. Let's start paying performance bonuses to those exceptional public employees like they pay in the private sector to offset these co-pays and deductables. Public employees played the long sure game while some in the private sector gambled on short returns.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 9:08 p.m.

How about this one? Some state employees can retire on 30 years service as young as 46, others have to wait to 55. How about we raise the retirement age for State and Local workers to 65, at least to collect a pension if they are healthy. If they cannot do their original job, let them move to a different department and work there? That would take a lot of pressure off pension costs, without having to cut salaries. I suppose this is unfair too though.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 7:56 p.m.

&quot;A friend of mine works for the government in a relatively low-level job. He recently expressed fury that he was now being asked for a $10 co-pay when he went to the doctor. He doesn't even know what a premium is, because he doesn't pay one. In the meantime, my insurance bill, which is for a package Obama is trying to make illegal (a $6,000 deductible), went up 50% in the last few months. What the union rank-and-file don't seem to understand is that benefits cost a lot of money. My friend's insurance plan costs the taxpayers about $10,000 a year. He's not even taxed for that. He doesn't pay a dime (well, now he may pay $20 a year).&quot; Your &quot;friend&quot; has a benefit package that seems generous but it is all relative. Some private sector jobs have higher salaries while public sector jobs have better benefits in lieu of high salaries. That's one way municipalities can attract quality people without having to pay high salaries. Some private sector employers provide their employees with generous benefits, too. It's all part of the compensation package. If you weigh it all and compare, similar levels of responsibility should pay about the same. Unless you work on Wall Street and produce nothing of societal benefit. In which case, this society rewards you far beyond the wildest dreams of your friend with the $10.00 co-pay. Why don't people scream about THAT?

Audion Man

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 7:54 p.m.

By golly, you are right! We should reduce your fictional anecdotal friends salary and benefits to match the very lowest salaries of the private sector. All state employees should make minimum wage (including the Governor and Legislators) because that is only fair. In fact, Macabre Sunset, nobody should get a better deal than you! And once everything is cut down to the bare minimum and is outsourced to GovCo we can enjoy your whining about how incompetent all of these fairly compensated people are...


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 7:06 p.m.

The commentary is sure to fall along party lines. I find it interesting that the commenters, thus far, object to Lansing forcing local governments hand. I suppose th Washington DC's forcing healthcare on everyone was less objectionable?


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 1:04 p.m.

I too remember a time when GOP'ers talked about &quot;local control&quot;. That was then, this is now. I remember time a time when the GOP spent OPM (a new celebrity entertainer phrase picked up by those that love the propaganda) like water in other countries, and at home . (see Bush's 2003 Medicare bribes for votes). That was then, this is now. I remember a time when the GOP ran against flip flopping. then again, I remember a time when the GOP was about &quot;Family Values&quot;. Now of two leading candidates one has an unwed teen mother in the family and the other is divorced and was censored by his country for ethics violations. Flippity floppity


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 9:04 p.m.

timjbd - How about the $700 million that the state has to spend this year on expanded Medicaid coverage that the Federal Government added with the &quot;Health Care Reform Bill&quot;? Now the state has to go find $700 million and more next year. Sounds like a link to me.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 7:15 p.m.

Explain how one has anything to do with the other..

Glen S.

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 7:03 p.m.



Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 7:03 p.m.

What ever happened to objective journalism and/or analysis? What happened to journalism (period)? Did you ever consider interviewing anyone for this article? Referencing your own analysis to prove your point? Pure tautology.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 2:03 p.m.

@lumberg48108:analysis requires some objectivity and some expectation of use of experts; this seems more an opinion piece. Thought-provoking, asks a good question--but not really analysis. But still a part of journalism. We do need questions asked.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 8:43 p.m.

think you are off base on this one - the piece is cleary marked analyisis ... he is free from objectivity - we can only hope he is informed -but that is never a requirement


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 7:01 p.m.

If people don't want to work for the govt... quit. Unionized state workers are a travesty, as they constitute a monopoly on state services. Monopolies are bad for any user of the monopolized service. The taxpayers are being shafted by the public unions.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 1:38 a.m.

What monopoly would that be? There is something called the Sherman act in the us of a

David Briegel

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 8:50 p.m.

Ignatz good one! So have I! All you have to do is your job! Bragg, Monopoly is only a good thing when it applies to the Fortune 500? I don't recall any of the TeaPublicans being against that! Where's Teddy Roosevelt when we need him??


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 7:12 p.m.

Unions are not a monopoly. Union workers can be fired. I've done it! It's not that hard. You just have to be competant yourself.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 6:55 p.m.

Shut off all sources of food, throw two staving people into a pit then toss in a chicken leg. Look on with glee as the two combatants tear each other apart to survive. What a lovely climate he's nurturing.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 12:47 a.m.

What you have described is 'Schools of Choice' - coincidence?????.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 8:31 p.m.

I don't remember Rome having a democratically elected governor... Republic or Empire?


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 7:13 p.m.

They ran Rome that way for a few years.

Thick Candy Shell

Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 7:02 p.m.

I like the sound of that! Where can I buy a ticket? It seems like a good way to raise money for the State Treasury!


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 7:02 p.m.

or better yet farm your own land, raise your own chickens without having to steal food from the taxpayers.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 6:47 p.m.

This proposal is also a way to guarantee that the Republican agenda is forcibly enacted at the local level all across the state, usurping the power of democratically elected local governments. Many words come to mind, but &quot;authoritarian&quot; and &quot;fascist&quot; are the ones that seem most apt.


Tue, Mar 29, 2011 : 2:33 p.m.

@Don What would I be getting in return? I'd gladly have everyone pay an extra $10 a year if everyone got a free education. I'd gladly give an extra $20 a year if everyone got health care, like they are doing in Vermont. But I am done paying taxes so the wealthy and business get tax breaks. We have had unprecedented tax breaks since Regan was in office. If tax breaks create jobs, WHERE ARE THE JOBS?


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 6:34 p.m.

The question was the hard one, what are you willing to put up. Your response ignored my question.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 2:51 p.m.

@ DonBee You don't think cutting people's pay is 'playing with other people's money?' But you think raising taxes on the rich is 'playing with other people's money?' Your logic is incoherent.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 1:22 p.m.

@Subroutine: Sure, he was democratically elected. But so were local governments. Snyder's bill seeks to force local governments to enact his agenda even if the local electorate opposes it (and expressed that opposition by electing local leaders who also oppose it). It's exactly the sort of top-down dictatorial governance to which Republicans usually object ... unless they're the ones doing it. It's another example of the fundamental hypocrisy of the Republican way of thinking. @DonBee: Taxing the rich and raising corporate taxes is exactly where that money should come from. We all need to share the sacrifice, right? Well, the poor and middle class have already done so &mdash; time and time again &mdash; while money has continually flowed uphill to the rich. The wealthy and corporations haven't sacrificed anything yet. When does their turn come? Seriously, if not now, when?


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 9:01 p.m.

fjord - Find me the $700 million for new Medicaid requirements that the Federal Government dropped on the state or the $400 million that we need to put in the pension funds for state workers or the $500 million in stimulus funds that we spent last year to balance the budget or the millions that the increase in health care for current and retired state workers will cost us. Don't tell me to tax the rich or raise corporate taxes, tell me what you are willing to do to your budget at home to fill these gaps. It is easy to play with OPM (Other People's Money), but it harder when it hits home. So tell me how much more are you willing to give?


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 8:32 p.m.

The state and taxpayers are broke. The &quot;agenda&quot; is to balance the budget for real, not with &quot;stimulus&quot; money. Anyone can do that. We now have real leadership and the way you can tell is that the vocal minority is making a lot of noise.


Mon, Mar 21, 2011 : 8 p.m.

The current Republican Governor was also &quot;democratically elected&quot;, by an overwhelming majority unless I'm mistaken. And in my opinion, throwing around words like &quot;authoritarian&quot; and &quot;fascist&quot; only appeal to those who already agree with your preferred agenda.