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Posted on Tue, Dec 21, 2010 : 3:44 p.m.

Targeting public employees' collective bargaining rights unlikely, Rick Snyder says

By Nathan Bomey

Michigan Gov.-elect Rick Snyder, who has indicated that he believes public employee compensation cuts are necessary to stabilize Michigan's budget, told the Detroit News in an interview that he doesn't think it's necessary to restrict public employees' collective bargaining rights.

Fighting to eliminate collective bargaining rights is "probably 'not a viable option in the Michigan system,'" the News reported.

Michigan law allows public workers to negotiate contracts through unions.

Snyder's comments came as Wisconsin Gov.-elect Scott Walker is considering a fight to remove public workers' collective bargaining rights, the Wall Street Journal reported last week.

Indiana and Missouri have also eliminated public workers' collective bargaining rights in recent years, WSJ said.

Snyder told the Republican Governors Association at a meeting in November that public employee costs need to be "comparable with the private sector."


Michigan Gov.-elect Rick Snyder

Snyder, who takes office Jan. 1, told in October that cuts were needed but that he "wouldn’t take away anything that’s already been earned by anyone." He dismissed the suggestion that previous cuts were sufficient and suggested he wants to institute long-term reforms.

"All the proposals that have gone before are all flawed in some fundamental fashion," Snyder said. "Let’s get a solution that’s going to work for 10 or 20 years. It’ll ask for shared sacrifice, but the question is, can we do a solution then that these people don’t need to be looking over their shoulder each and every year?"

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



Fri, Dec 24, 2010 : 8:59 a.m.

Detroit symbolizes everything bad about Michigan 1. They have the same number of city workers they had when the city had 2 million people. The city hovers between 800,000 and 900,000. 2. The city unions are forcing people in the city of Detroit to pay an income tax and extraordinarily high property taxes, driving people and businesses out of the city. A house worth 50,000 dollars has taxes of $4000 dollars a year. A ludicrous result. City police were once forced to live in the city (against their will) and after a recent court case ruled they could move, they fled like rats. 3. The detroit publice schools receive between 11,000 and 12,000 per student. Saline, Chelse etc. get between 6,500 and,7000 per student. Detroit graduates 1 out of 4 students. Why have a school system at all, the kids might as well watch jeopardy. This proves throwing money at a problem without solving the root cause does absolutely nothing. 70%-80% of children in Detroit are born to single mothers, I am not a religious nut, but I see the value in having two loving parents working together to raise children. The use of the govt. as a stand in for a parent (or parents) has ruined many children and their futures. 4. Of course racism in both directions. That is an enormous issue. People continue to elect crooks because of a fear of outside control(read-white control) and a hope that their corrupt leaders will spread the sugar their way. In one sentence Detroit can be described as everything bad in Michigan and the USA.... bloated govt., high taxes, poor govt services, union control, horrible -high cost- schools, entitlement and of course racism. Even Cuba is trying to shrink their govt and drive private investment. If the most marxist state in the world can figure that out, I am sure Michigan can.


Thu, Dec 23, 2010 : 8:33 p.m.

"... I fear that we are, as a state, about to become what Detroit has been for several decades...." The reference by EMRG to Detroit and its circumstances is, I think, quite apt. Years ago, it was said that Detroit is a canary in America's coal mine. As goes Detroit, so go other urban regions in the country — eventually. (I think Jack Lessenberry, among others, has opined along these lines.) Half a decade ago, much of the rest of the country observed Detroit's growing budget disasters and deteriorating infrastructure with the slack-jawed look of someone helplessly watching a train wreck in progress. Yet today, many other cities and regions catch up fast to Detroit's fiscal suffering. California, among the world's largest economies, threatens to replicate big portions of the Detroit experience on a scale many times greater. Elsewhere in the country, Detroit may serve as a metaphor and as a measure of the nation's urban future. For us, it is not only that but also a real city with real people who aren't very far from being our next door neighbors. Ann Arbor and the rest of Michigan ignore Detroit only at their own peril. One way to gauge Snyder will be how he chooses to interact as governor with Detroit's residents. While both Engler and Blanchard kept their political distance as governors, Milliken chose to be actively engaged with the city and its affairs, offering constructive, respectful support on a range of issues.


Thu, Dec 23, 2010 : 8:07 p.m.

Ghost We will never agree on this topic


Thu, Dec 23, 2010 : 9:28 a.m.

Monica, The people who pay these "stable incomes" to state employees are private employees. You are taking from a poor Peter to pay a rich Paul. State govt. needs to be downsized so that the private sector can grow and create jobs. The private sector creates real job growth, no the public sector.


Thu, Dec 23, 2010 : 4:12 a.m.

I did not elect Mr. Snyder nor do I agree with him on most issues. Regardless, we have a HUGE PROBLEM facing our state. Businesses are losing. Foreclosures are making every area of the state look like a mini Detroit. Services are being cut back (i.e. the first snowstorm and how effective the roads were cleaned in certain areas in S.E. MI), townships, cities and other towns that are seriously under-budget, public schools hang on by a prayer and on and on. Michigan lost a Congressional seat. The population in the 2010 Census dropped by 30K and college students are leaving the state because they cannot find a job here (i.e.-brain-drain). If most Michiganders could sell their house and get out, they probably would. Snyder has a lot on his plate. In the same aspect if he takes deep cuts in Michigan Employees salaries, who will have a stable income left in the state to pay taxes, keep neighborhoods somewhat stable, have their children in schools to maintain enrollment dollars and more. We are in a crisis. I am unsure if Snyder is the man to fix it but he is now elected. Whatever he does, Snyder needs to ensure that we quickly get to a level of more stability in Michigan, right away.


Wed, Dec 22, 2010 : 8:19 p.m.

@ Blue Eyes - Go ask the folks who do the engineering for the construction companies how much they make. Go ask the folks in the driving dump trucks for private companies how much they make. Go ask the folks who do animal population surveys for the World Wildlife Fund how much they make. Go ask the folks in the Comcast call center how much they make. They folks do jobs similar to state employees, in many cases they have a better education than the folks working for the state. Yet they make a lot less and those jobs always will. Not everyone in the private sector makes a killing and they have to deal with the idea they can be out the door with no warning and no "due process" in many cases. It's not right and not the right way to do things, but making a blanket statement that people in the private sector make "ridiculous salaries" does not help move the state forward. EMG and I have had our spats, but in this case I have to agree with him. We need to work through this, and if we don't pull together to get the moderate answer - we will end up with a useless answer. We need to stand up to both ends of the spectrum of politics. Class warfare will end up with all of us poorer and the state in worse shape. We also need to stand up to the "You can't touch mine, I am not sharing" attitudes that people seem to have. I think it would be fun to have a contest to see who can find the dumbest laws and regulations on the books and send them to G. E. Snyder. In many cases dumb laws cost the state money and jobs. EMG pointed out one.


Wed, Dec 22, 2010 : 8:18 p.m.

Way to go Rick, the voters support you and your policies.

Blue Eyes

Wed, Dec 22, 2010 : 5:06 p.m.

So let me get this straight - he wants to bring public employees down to the current level of private employees. Does that mean when the economy recovers (it really will), the public employees will be elevated to the ridiculous salaries the private sector was getting?


Wed, Dec 22, 2010 : 4:17 p.m.

Let's all just give Rick Snyder a chance. It won't be perfect, whatever he proposes, but nothing ever is. We will all have to sacrifice, but let's all work together and see what happens. We can't be in any worse shape than we are now.


Wed, Dec 22, 2010 : 1:33 p.m.

Quoting an excerpt from above, about which I have two comments: Will there be more taxes? Most likely. Will some services be cut? Most likely. Will state employees see changes in benefit plans? Most likely. Will cities and counties see changes in revenue sharing? Most likely. Will jobs disappear at all levels of government? Most likely. Will corporations see some of their favorite loopholes disappear? Most likely. This is a useful, concise summary for the immediate options facing Snyder and the incoming state legislature. The question, I think, is how our newly-elected officials will prioritize these. The commenters who prompted the ex-Murrow to write, "Did anyone other than DonBee actually read the article?" obviously hold the not-quite stated assumption that the ultra-conservative reactionaries who'll likely run the legislature will roll 'right' over Snyder's more moderate instincts. The fear is that, in the interests of GOP harmony, he'll cave in and rule like an Engler Republican, not a Milliken Republican. The jury remains out in regard to how much backbone Snyder will show in his dealings with what promises to be a wingnut-dominated legislature. Secondly, the last item in the list quoted at top reflects the tip of the iceberg for an alternate, long-term course of constructive action. Rather than limiting available options to possible attacks on public employees, or evisceration of state services, or fiscal starvation for cities and counties, move instead toward serious tax overhaul. Meaningful reform does not require increasing the rates currently paid by Michigan's middle class and working poor. Begin by slashing corporate tax breaks and special subsidies, and keep the current business tax in place indefinitely (necessary for budget stability). Then start moving forward on proposing a statewide referendum that would allow Michigan to join the more than 30 other states that sensibly apply a graduated state income tax. Increases tax rates only for higher brackets. If Snyder wants help with identifying useless corporate perks that drain funding from the state, he can always confer with Ann Arbor's newly-elected reps in the State House and Senate, who have previously looked into this.


Wed, Dec 22, 2010 : 9:14 a.m.

the ghost wrote: "Did anyone other than DonBee actually read the article?" You must be new here. Commenting without reading the article is standard operating procedure. Given the typos and grammatical errors in most articles, evidently the staff doesn't read the articles, either.


Wed, Dec 22, 2010 : 6:34 a.m.

Charter schools are going to be the future. How come we don't have trouble filling them? School unions will eventually be the downfall of public education any way. Public employees will continue to get hammered on wages and benefits. In the mean time more and more outsourcing to the private sector will be going on.Mr Snyder's right, he doesn't need to screw around with bargaining rights, those people will bury themselves.


Wed, Dec 22, 2010 : 5:30 a.m.

We all need to make a bigger sacrifice. Thus his own party fights to the death for a HUGE tax cut for the richest in America both in income and their estates. So much for sacrifice.


Tue, Dec 21, 2010 : 11:57 p.m.

@Patti Smith - I wish our copier worked. I wish we had paper for it. I would love to not wear gloves during the winter at my desk. I will bet the PC I use in the office is older than yours, I end up using one I paid for. In short, not all people in the private sector have it way better than you do. I would like to see you have better working conditions, rather than having them deteriorate. According the US Census Bureau, Michigan has fallen from 27th 2007 to 31st in 2008 and in 2009 34th in household income. From 2008 to 2009 the average Michigan household saw a reduction in real dollars of $3,134.00. We need to figure out how to turn it around. We are all going to have to give up something. I am resigned to the loss of services and an increase in taxes, that is the only path I can see forward. It will get a lot worse before it gets better for all of us - public or private sector.

Patti Smith

Tue, Dec 21, 2010 : 10:45 p.m.

Hey R--you want me (public schoolteacher) to be comparable to the private sector? No problemo as long as you make my working conditions comparable to the private sector. That means--and this list is nowhere near complete--copy paper that doesn't have oddly punched holes in it, a working copier in the office, a phone in my room, a normal heating and cooling system such that I don't melt in the winter and suffocate in the summer, soap in the teachers' bathrooms, paper towel in the bathrooms, technology, software that I can actually load onto my 3000 year old PC and "colleagues" (i.e. students) who have been fed. Oh, and maybe some uniforms for my cheerleaders...ones that don't have some other schools' logo on them.


Tue, Dec 21, 2010 : 10:24 p.m.

Lower the business taxes and raise the fees for things like business filings and licenses. The new Sunday morning liqour license only costs $160, raise that to $500. If it is worth it the propietor will pay for it.


Tue, Dec 21, 2010 : 10:08 p.m.

Only in Ann Arbor could a comment about not taking away collective bargaining rights and finding a long-term solution to the issues of compensation result in the idea that public employees will turn into "Serfs and Slaves". G.E. Snyder has said he wants to sit down with people and work out a solution, right now it looks like the folks commenting here are already assuming that he wants to take away everything they have. He is still weeks away from taking office. He has already indicated he has a 2 year budget in mind and that he will put it on the table months before he has to. That will leave time to work thru issues that could not dealt with in prior years. He indicated today that he wants it passed by July at the latest, so that schools can budget - something they have not been able to do in years. It is going to be a rough first year, no one is going to be happy - not universities, not K-12 and not the big business. Everyone is going to have things they want left out of the budget discussions. If it is done right and in the spirit of fixing the state we will come out with a better, more competitive state that can put more people to work and eventually support more services. Will there be more taxes? Most likely. Will some services be cut? Most likely. Will state employees see changes in benefit plans? Most likely. Will cities and counties see changes in revenue sharing? Most likely. Will jobs disappear at all levels of government? Most likely. Will corporations see some of their favorite loopholes disappear? Most likely. Will we all dislike it - left, right and center? If we don't G.E. Snyder did something wrong, because it will take that kind of effort to make things better.

David Briegel

Tue, Dec 21, 2010 : 8:09 p.m.

Ralph, SHhhhhh, don't tell anyone, It would ruin the Republican narrative!


Tue, Dec 21, 2010 : 7:40 p.m.

My counter parts in the private sector always made $5 - $8,000 more.

David Briegel

Tue, Dec 21, 2010 : 7:15 p.m.

Yeah Mike, a lot more million dollar executives/consultants will save us all! From what? More million dollar executives/consultants? (to or too? Highly educated?) you speak Chinese? Rick was elected because he purchased the naive!


Tue, Dec 21, 2010 : 6:45 p.m.

One last thing, Governor Elect Snyder, Many of us in the public sector are concerned that you want us to equate us with private sector workers in part because you, and many of your supporters, undervalue our work, our skills and our qualifications. Many on this board have expressed outrage at the idea that teachers (of which I am one) are paid more than the average taxpayer despite the fact that the average taxpayer has only a high school education (or less). Who will you equate us with? Skilled, highly educated teachers... who in the private sector will you equate us with? Engineers? Accountants? or secretaries and clerical workers?


Tue, Dec 21, 2010 : 6:41 p.m.

Governor Elect Snyder, I am saddened and disturbed by your desire to make public sector employees like private sector workers. Your underlying assumption is that market forces have correctly determined the appropriate wages for all in the free market and all there is as it should be while the public sector is filled with waste and greedy employees. Only we both know that isn't true. You are a business man. I know you must have seen the perks lavished upon the top by themselves as they cut wages, benefits and jobs to maintain their bonuses. Maybe you thought it was their right, that they somehow EARNED the right to be greedy and to take from their employees and hey, that bottom line looked good on paper... only the quality of the product suffered and research diminished to almost nothing. I guess it makes sense in your world to outsource all the labor to consultants leaving only well paid management in the firm too busy socializing, attending retreats of golf and spa outings to manage the business while those consultants lack the authority to solve major threats to the business. And I guess you think it right when an individual's ego controls a business so tightly that they are saddled with bad design, a bad product that no one is allowed to correct it or even suggest an alternative without being dismissed even if the business suffers as a result. Those are all things that happened in the private sector and that is just ONE FIRM. The idea that an organization is automatically good or bad because it is private or public is a fallacy. Organizations that are well run are well run regardless of whether they are private or public. One can find employees in both the private and public sectors are overpaid and underpaid and paid appropriately. But at least in the public sector, for some, there are some protections against the capricious boss, the egomaniac, the one who dare not be crossed. Who do you think produces better work? The one constantly looking over his or her shoulder in fear, constantly on the look out for a safer job or the one who is secure in the knowledge that good work will not be punished.

David Briegel

Tue, Dec 21, 2010 : 6:05 p.m.

Of the Billionaires, by the Fortune 500 and for the multi-millionaires! This is America! What did you expect, Liberty and Justice for all? The future lies with China and The Walton Family, the victors of Ronnie's Cold War! "The Univ of Mich owns Ann Arbor, we just get to live here"! I just can't wait to see Mary Sue and her Regents version of "shared sacrifice"!! I'm certain slick Rick will approve!


Tue, Dec 21, 2010 : 5:30 p.m.

This just means he'll wait a bit before taking away that right. Does the word 'serfs', 'slaves' come to mind? Then again that's what the average private sector corporate worker is so why not turn the public sector workers into the same kind of controlled zombies? MIchigan state government, by the corporations, for the corporations and of the corporations. Soon to be outsourced to China or India as well -- and with no collective bargaining the state workers will have to train their replacements without complaint or recourse.


Tue, Dec 21, 2010 : 4:17 p.m.

so if he wants to make the salaries comparable to the private sector I assume he means that the top positions will get grotesquely large salaries while all of their employees barely scrape by to make ends meet.