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Posted on Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 8:03 a.m.

Ann Arbor officials announce another breakthrough in labor negotiations; still waiting on police, fire

By Ryan J. Stanton

Ann Arbor officials announced another major breakthrough in negotiations with the city's labor unions — this time in the form of new contracts with the Teamsters Civilian Supervisors and Teamsters Police Professional Assistants.

Though the two bargaining units represent only a handful of the city's 500-plus union employees, city officials say the concessions are significant and will end up saving the city thousands of dollars.


Ann Arbor officials say they're still waiting for the police and firefighters unions to make the level of concessions they're looking for.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Both units have ratified new contracts that ask their members for increased contributions toward their health care and pension plans, while taking no pay raises.

The new contracts have an updated health care plan that includes increases in deductibles, premiums and co-pays. Both units also agreed to a pension contribution increase to 6 percent pre-tax, and the Police Professional Assistants agreed to eliminate a uniform allowance and parking subsidy.

City Council Member Stephen Rapundalo, chairman of the council's labor committee, called the voluntary concessions "significant steps forward for the city in terms of being able to sustain its fiscal structure."

"The collective bargaining units which have not yet ratified contracts should be aware of the current economic conditions facing the city, and we hope they will act accordingly," Rapundalo said, specifically calling on the police officers and firefighters unions.

Ann Arbor officials point out the city's largest bargaining units — AFSCME and the police officers and firefighters unions — have not yet come to the table and offered to make the kind of concessions being asked of them, which is not only compromises in wages and pensions but also in health care plans.

"Costs of health care continue to rise every year," Rapundalo said. "But I think what's really important to note is the following: Currently the firefighters, the police officers and the police command officers pay only a deductible of $250 per person or $500 per family. And here's the kicker: They do not pay a monthly premium or any co-insurance."

The city had its first major breakthrough in negotiations earlier this month when it reached a new agreement with the Teamsters Deputy Chiefs. The deputy chiefs were the first union employees to fully respond to the city's request for concessions, including in health care plans.

Rapundalo said the new plans ratified Monday night, along with the contract for the deputy chiefs, include an increased deductible, a 20 percent co-insurance and the option of a monthly premium for lower deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums.

"During these difficult economic times, the cooperation of these unions, as well as the cooperation of the nonunion employees of the city, is appreciated by council, and by the residents of the city," he said, adding the changes in health care provide immediate savings as well as long-term savings in retiree health care.

Rapundalo said the city continues to negotiate in good faith with the firefighters and the police officers and police command units to achieve similar savings. But if negotiations are unsuccessful, he said, the city is prepared to pursue Act 312 binding arbitration to resolve those public safety contracts.

The police and fire departments saw the elimination of 10 positions earlier this month in the city's latest round of budget cuts. The fact that firefighters were laid off remains a sore point that has led to distrust of city officials within the ranks of the fire department.

Matt Schroeder, president of the firefighters union, could not be reached for comment.

The firefighters ratified a short-term contract in January that involved giving up 3 percent of their pay and contributing 1 percent more toward their pensions, though there were no concessions in health care. In exchange, they were guaranteed no layoffs through June 30. 

But soon after the concessions were made, city officials came back and proposed eliminating 20 positions in the fire department — six more than before — starting July 1.

After some last-minute budget juggling, five positions were cut in fire (one of them vacant) and five were cut in police (all of them vacant).

"It would be, I think, a good exercise for our bargaining unit people to take a look at what's going on around the state and what is happening in other cities, because it's a different picture than in Ann Arbor in many ways," said Mayor John Hieftje, who believes Ann Arbor doesn't have it so bad by comparison. "I've been reading about Grand Rapids, for instance, and they're asking for 8 and 9 percent reductions coming back from their bargaining units." reported earlier this year that despite the city's efforts to slash personnel costs over the last decade, and reducing the number of employees by nearly 25 percent, overall pay and benefit expenses have increased by tens of millions of dollars.

City officials acknowledge part of the problem is that Ann Arbor city employees enjoy more lucrative benefit packages than their peers in the public and private sectors, including top-dollar health insurance packages at little or no cost to themselves. An analysis by revealed that if the city's health care costs alone were brought in line with the rest of the marketplace, the city could save more than $5.8 million a year.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Sat, Sep 11, 2010 : 5:37 p.m.

Where's that great health care plan our glorious president promised??????


Tue, Jul 27, 2010 : 3:31 p.m.

@Pace - first of all, it's not a million dollars. Second, it's not a continuing source of dollars. Move it once and it's a one time shot. It's a patch (and not a large enough one at that), not a fix, and next year promises to be worse. People costs will continue to rise and revenue doesn't look like it will any time soon. Also, two of the three art projects that people love to hate these days look to have been tabled at the very least. Not simple and not a fix.


Sun, Jul 25, 2010 : 9:42 p.m.

You make accusations, of not comparing apples to apples, yet bring no verifiable facts of your own to the discussion. Anecdotes are just talk. The comparisons cited above are in keeping with FASB standards, and are also quite in line with those independently derived by Total compensation has been identified as total compensation. Maybe the city is scamming you and up to 765 others? Stranger things have happened. On the other hand, it may be that the city does not explicitly define your total compensation to each employee as well as they should. Many employers provide an annual summary of total compensation, though most outsiders would not know whether A2 does provide this. If you truly believe there is some inaccurate accounting happening, you might consider doing some discreet investigating to confirm it, then bring your story public, anonymously or not, here, for all to read. You'd likely find widespread support. It's one thing to be concerned about excess civil pay, but it would be way worse for the city to somehow be shorting their good people their just compensation. Good luck.


Sun, Jul 25, 2010 : 4:54 a.m.

Back and forth discussions with someone that refuses to acknowledge that they're not comparing 'apples to apples' is like explaining quantum physics to a 3rd grader. Not calling you a 3rd grader, just using it as an example. I'm a city employee who's been here for a few years now and I can tell you I don't make anywhere near that. The city also refuses to provide a break down of that $30+k extra they claim we cost. They'll keep saying it to the press, but refuse to provide the breakdown. Doesn't that strike you a little odd that someone will continually tell you, "Trust me, those numbers are correct. But I'm not going to prove it to you."???


Sat, Jul 24, 2010 : 9:55 a.m.

Hey, BornNRaised, an error has been located using the links cited above: With rounding, the A2 civil employees now cost $104K per year, not $103K. Thanks - your comments were helpful in discovering this error. Looking forward to the links you supply to support your contentions...


Sat, Jul 24, 2010 : 9:42 a.m.

"when comparing it to the national standard numbers" Um, which numbers are those? Please cite a link. Also, Mr. Stanton's comment was related to distinguishing base pay from total compensation, right BornNRaised? Distinguishing, not contesting. Here is another great quote from the above referenced article: "The average Ann Arbor city employee earns a base salary of $65,198 and receives $32,993 in benefits. By those calculations, the average active employee costs the city $98,191 per year, a figure slated to rise to $103,769 next year [now this year]."


Sat, Jul 24, 2010 : 9:34 a.m.

@LBH SIMPLE REPLY Spend money where its most needed. not on some stupid water fountain for a unccesary New City HAll lETS START THERE. To much to contemplate? 1 million for art? or 1 million for the Police and firefighters? Hard choice? Youve got to be kidding! Thats a prime example of mismanagement and I dont care how you frame it.


Sat, Jul 24, 2010 : 7:58 a.m.

Alpha always likes to use the $103k per employee number as their salary despite being told multiple times by people here, and even Ryan Stanton, that he's using the wrong number when comparing it to the national standard numbers which ONLY include base salary. Once again, an apples to oranges comparison that he refuses to correct. At least 99% of the people here are smart enough to see the flaw in logic despite the feeble attempts to persuade people that the numbers are the same.


Sat, Jul 24, 2010 : 7:50 a.m.

What do average city administrators make? City CFO's? HR Directors? Police and Fire Chiefs? How about we take the top 20 paid and cut their salary and health benefits? Why instead do you choose to pick on the lowest paid? Those are the people that are in the streets doing the work.


Fri, Jul 23, 2010 : 11:18 p.m.

A mayoral candidate could likely gain much political traction by embracing the growing public resentment toward excessive civil employee pay.


Fri, Jul 23, 2010 : 11:14 p.m.

WLD1 understands: "contract negotiations should also include lower starting wages for new hires" Absolutely correct; in addition, no defined benefit pensions. 401k plans only. New hires should be offered national average pay rates. No higher. If all 766 city workers were paid national average wages, the savings to the city would be $37.5 million per year. Over $100,000 every day...


Fri, Jul 23, 2010 : 11:05 p.m.

BornNRaised offered a civil opinion: "Public sector employees still don't get much in the way of pay" but the facts clearly state otherwise; please see the link just above for proof: civil servants earn way more than their private sector equals.


Fri, Jul 23, 2010 : 10:52 p.m.

When Steven Harper Piziks said: "If you work in the public sector, you don't get big money or big raises EVER," he was either radically misinformed or simply misrepresenting this fact: "According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, the average per-capita income in Ann Arbor is $30,410 - less than half that of a city worker." linked in the 28 Feb 2010 story mentioned above.

Sam Adems

Fri, Jul 23, 2010 : 3:53 p.m.

@LBH wrote: "in what way, *exactly*, are city funds being "mismanaged" by anybody?" Example #1: From the linked editorial: "It looks bad and raises serious questions when a company managing construction of a major public project rejects a lower bid from a competitor and awards the work to its subsidiary. So far, the answers provided have been unsatisfactory, including those from the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. The DDA is responsible for the underground parking structure being built on South Fifth Avenue, a project that has been dogged by questions about whether the structure is needed and what will be built on top of it." "The last thing the DDA and the city of Ann Arbor needed was the appearance of impropriety raised by having the construction manager give its own subsidiary a $22 million contract for concrete work when a pre-qualified bidder said it was prepared to do the job for a half a million dollars less." Apparently the same kind of thing happened with the Police/Courts building. Example #2: Read the comments. The $55 million expense to build our own hole in the ground was a total waste of taxpayers dollars. What do you want? A picture of someone walking out of City Hall with a wheelbarrow of cash???


Fri, Jul 23, 2010 : 2:28 p.m.

@PACE in what way, *exactly*, are city funds being "mismanaged" by anybody? How about saying you disagree with the priorities? I read/hear accusations all the time from people who have no clue what it takes to run a business as big as the city of Ann Arbor, but never any evidence. Only whispers or shouts of impropriety or malfeasance. Time for people to actually educate themselves regarding what it costs. How many people, pieces of equipment, buildings, bills, are involved in keeping the city moving and what are the costs associated with them. If you do that, and have something legitimate and accurate to say, great, otherwise ditch the Karl Rovian tactics (repeat a lie often enough and anybody will believe it). Assuming that because money is short somebody must be stealing or mismanaging it is not only ignorant and tiresome, it's possibly actionable if people are named and accused. Think before you speak/type.


Fri, Jul 23, 2010 : 12:15 p.m.

Here is another good story that I feel is directly related to the unions not giving away the farm....


Fri, Jul 23, 2010 : 6:36 a.m.

I came from the private sector and in reality I took a pay cut yes a pay cut. And a reduced pension, granted the medical is better here currently. Overall I was making more money in the private sector before working here. Why did i do it you ask job security I was willing to give up the extra 10-20k a year for stability. Im sorry the economy sucks and people are loosing their jobs and benefits. Ive been there but never did I say I lost my job and benefits so you should take a cut. Just becouse you had to take a pay cut or pay more for benefits or loose your pension and or medical why should I have to. Also their was a time when the city could not get qualified workers becouse the private sector was doing so well and that area you could make way more money. Just like in GM back in the day about 1/2 the people they hired quick becouse they could not hack the line work. Now those same people with no benefits and no pension are complaining about those GM workers. I think the City should just build another city hall.


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 4:18 p.m.

In reading these stories about City government - it seems as though the City is imploding from within it's management ranks. Examples are abundant; a bridge that is in severe disrepair, antiquated, aged water mains, unprecedented layoffs, service cuts across the board, a Mayor who has taken to underhanded means of attacking his mayoral opponent, a City administrator who has padded his income in such a way to fool the public on his true salary, denying treatment to an injured police employee who repeatedly asked for additional medical tests and was denied- only to have broken ribs found later by a specialist, an extravagant parking structure and conference center in the congested downtown area, employees and City Hall first floor visitors -being exposed to hazards like asbestos, radon and carbon monoxide...the list could go on beyond the character limits of this post. Has the City shown good reasons that they should be trusted by employees and the taxpayers? Too many red flags for me! I'm sure that the employees are well aware of the economic situation throughout the State - but the City refuses to show their finances in a transparent and straight-forward formula. Talk about the fox watching the hen house!


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 12:03 p.m.

The last thing that need to be cut are services. The Police and Firefighters are a absolute priority! what needs to happen is guys like the CFO "Tome Crawford" need to start doing theyre job better at managing the city funds. If not the mayor and city council need to fire him and hire someone to do the job right. Unless of course its the mayor and city council who are mismanaging funds.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 11:11 a.m.

As a city taxpayer I wish to thank the 50 city employees (plus or minus) who have made this sacrifice which will save the city "thousands of dollars". However the deficit in the healthcare and retirement plans increased $75 million in just the 12 months to June 30, 2009 so there is a lot more sacrifice required unfortunately. Please note my comment on the fact that the City of Ann Arbor pension fund and retirement health care fund (Veba Trust) combined deficit as of June 30, 2009 had increased to $190 million. See To put $190 million in context, the proposed city income tax would raise $9 million per year and would be insufficient to close the $190 million deficit. All of the city's (very high) property taxes raised a total of $70 million in 2009. Details on the deficits and links to the source documents are available at:


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 10:30 a.m.

Maybe have full time drivers and volunteer fire fighters? Works well in Farmington Hills and saves $$. Maybe pay the police better wages but reduce the pension plan to a 401K and increase the cost of health care to that of private business (1/3 of premium cost with co-pay of $2000 or more for families?) Dirty little secret here is the cost of all of the retirees..and that will ultimately bankrupt the county. should research THAT number...that will shock you.


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 10:25 a.m.

PS to my previous comment. I work(ed) in the private sector. I never got any 'big raises', I paid a good chuck of my healthcare premium (with co-pays etc.) when I had it, my pension, er...401k, doesn't even begin to compare with a private pension that provides essentially the salary one had before, in ADDITION to healthcare benefits for life. Oh! And yes, I work(ed) in health care, I have a degree, and one commenter above seems to infer that is not one of those "noble" professions. When I think of the other 'little people' in positions with even less pay and benefits, such as those caring for those in nursing homes, or those at hospital reception and intake desks....oh, I guess these and many others are not noble professions. Give me a break! The violin is playing....


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 9:56 a.m.

WOW!! INCREDIBLE!! If only I could have health care and health care benefits like that at such a tiny little cost. They should have co-pays, deductibles, and pay at LEAST 1/3 of their premiums. Why do those with the best benefits complain and balk the most when fairness is requested. This is totally unfair to Ann Arbor taxpayers to have to foot the bill for this - which includes all the retirees as well. Another fiscal reason the city is broke. Taxpayers should be the ones revolting...... or the city should also foot the bill for healthcare for the tax payers as well.


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 8:39 a.m.

Why is it always an us against them mentality? Bottom line is people pick their poison, or line of work. What I find terribly irksome is that FF and PD push how they are the greatest and best but when it comes to the benefit issue they clam up or say it is a wage cut. Fact of life is that employees need to bare some of the burden for these costs. Not sure if it was Sy Murray, Terry Sprenkel or some other City Manager that created this mess but it is time the unions quit holding the city hostage. I do not like slamming the unions but when they endorse someone like Lesko it is readily apparent they do not care about Ann Arbor. How many of the FF and PD reside in Ann Arbor? I trust only a few and those that don't only care about the paycheck. Rather than blast taxpayers that pay you with reminders about safety and your abilities I would suggest you reflect on how lucky you are to be working in Ann Arbor. For those that do not like it here, please look elsewhere and good luck.


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 8:13 a.m.

And Michigan is losing jobs and people. Michigan will likely be the only state to have negative population growth when the census results are in. Michigan also has one of the lowest birth rates and highest death rates in the country. Translation: The young families have fled the state for jobs down south. The state will not ever have the money again to support public services like it did in the past. You won't be able to raise taxes enough on the survivors (increasingly people on fixed incomes) to compensate. Even A2, where house values will increase first, will not be able to compensate for the loss of state funds. Cuts must be made. I am sympathetic to Unions that don't want to take cuts while Council spends like there is no problem. But they shortly will have to make the choice of lower benefits or less people.


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 8:09 a.m.

Like I said Before, since property values are going down so much in washtenaw county. The most cost effective way is to consolidate. They need to merge all the police and fire departments and call it Washtenaw county Department of Public Safety. That way manpower, jurisdictions. Each City would be a precinct. All the cityies, townships villages can pool their funding in one place, more officers, equipment where its needed.


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 8:01 a.m.

stunhsif - thats government and unions for you, they don't care about us - just about lining their pockets.


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 7:56 a.m.

Since Property Values are going down in ann arbor, the contract negotiations should also include lower starting wages for new hires. That way the old will retain their current pay and the city can afford new hires as the old die or retire. The higher the wages the less the city can afford. jeopardizing Public Safety.


Thu, Jul 22, 2010 : 4:55 a.m.

Funny how people who used to never give a crap about public sector employess because they made the money in the private sector are coming out. The arguement that things have changed for private sector is great... one problem. Public hasn't. We still don't see raises, in fact now see pay cuts. NEVER had bonuses and never will. I can recall NUMEROUS people saying things like, "Too bad, you chose to be a public worker. If you wanted to make more, go into the private sector." Tunes sure have changed. Well, TUNE, not tune(s). Public sector employees still don't get much in the way of pay or raises, but now it's the private sector crying because someone took their lollipop, and now they don't want anyone to have one. Throw more sand in the sand box kids. You're true colors are showing brightly!

Steven Harper Piziks

Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 9:54 p.m.

All the stuff you talk about is more than the public sector got for raises and bonuses (since public sector workers don't get bonuses). If a $5,000 bonus had no impact on your lifestyle, I'm sure you were willing to donate the money to charity or to your local elementary school. The so-called Cadillac benefits are the single balancer to lower (way lower) pay. I've always wondered why private sector workers don't band together and say to their respective companies, "Hey, we'll take this much in salary reduction if you increase our benefits to this level." They never do; I'm not sure why. And when have our taxes gone up? Our taxes have consistently gone DOWN. eom, you keep shouting data points you can't support.


Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 9:24 p.m.

@EOM, another tired old generalization from the public sector. please stop it with the statements of "big bonuses and pay raises" that private sector workers used to get. The number of folks that got those big bonuses or still do is less than 1%. It really is very untruthful to state that all those white collar folks got these massive bonuses. Do you think an extra 5 grand a year bonus would change your lifestyle? No, I doubt it. Now that 5 grand bonus is gone like fairy dust just like the pay raises the past 4 years, the matching 401k contributions. Add to that a 5% paycut since april 2009 and the 85 bucks a week we pay for crappy blue cross insurance with its 1000 per person and 7000 dollar family in network deductible per year and you might get an inkling of why we are not happy having our taxes go up to pay for your Cadillac benefits and then listen to you complain about having to pay a smidgen for your insurance copays and pension. Plus when you retire you get healthcare till you die for you and your spouse and I will be on Medicare and have to pay for my own healthcare plus I have no pension. Why don't all full time working folks in Michigan demand that we are awarded membership in the MEA and give us the same benefits you have EOM? That would be fair, the taxpayers pay your salary, we are your boss. I demand it, what is my congressman's phone number?

Steven Harper Piziks

Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 9:16 p.m.

Exactly, eom, exactly. In the 90s, stunshif and others like him/her weren't lining up to say, "Hey, it's a boom time! Let's give firefighters, police officers, and teachers a nice fat raise and a bonus. After all, the public sector is enjoying them." They should have been, but they weren't. The greedy private sector always says, "More for me! More for me!" when times are good. And when times get bad, they shout, "Less for you! Less for you!" Not only that, anyone who says the public sector hasn't made concessions hasn't been paying attention.


Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 9:06 p.m.

stunhsif, Actually, that's not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying, you will not continue to get the caliber of people you would want in these positions if you continue to tear them apart. I didn't go into teaching to make a huge pile of money, I didn't do it for the "Cadillac" benefits everyone seems to think I get, nor did I do it for the millions I make teaching 8 year olds. I teach because I love the job - and of course, there are perks, as in any job - and there are sacrifices, as there is in any job. I agree with Steven Harper Piziks who said... When times are lean, people in the private sector howl that employees in the public sector need to take reductions because the private sector is taking them. And when times are good, people in the private sector remain utterly silent about increasing wages to the public sector, so during the booms, the private sector rakes in nice raises and bonuses and benefits while the public sector workers get measly raises that barely meet inflation. That's trade-off. If you work in the public sector, you don't get big money or big raises EVER, but you do get good benefits, a steady job, and at least a small raise. Steven hit the nail on the head. In the 80's and early 90's, when those in the private sector were raking it in with their bonuses, high pay, etc. those of us in the public sector didn't get big raises - and that's okay with us. That's the deal we signed up for. The thing that bothers me on this site is how everyone has their facts completely off base (my benefit package for example) and can say anything - even things that are not at all based in reality or truth. How do you figure we haven't made sacrifices? Have you been in a classroom or fought a fire lately? How about patrolled the streets without a partner? The anger toward us doesn't make sense to educated society, which is watched over by those who protect and serve....seems like a good thing to me. If we keep taking away from these noble professions, will we be able to find people qualified and dedicated enough to do the job? Probably not.


Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 9:05 p.m.

@StevenHaperPizaks, Did you fall asleep in year 1999 and just now wake up thinking it was still 1999, where ya been the past ten years? Your tired old argument held some water 10 plus years ago but since that time all the private sector workers have lost their pensions in Michigan, having them rolled over to 401K's. They also have lost healthcare benefits after they retire. Your boat don't float, it is full of holes!!


Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 8:34 p.m.

ok let's try again... @bornnraised...FD and PD need to pay their fare share. For those that do not like it here they have the option to search for employment in a better place. I am sure there are many qualified, diligent, and hardworking individuals out there to fill the openings.


Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 4:40 p.m.

Mr Stanton, more of the same one sided propoganda reporting from you. How can the city claim money issues in one posting then boast about giving it away in another? Hard to win the broke argument in 312 arbitration. Funny how you fail to link the article about the whistle-blower lawsuit involving the police officer, carbon monoxide and the city's health care costs. You have more information about this health care issue in the city and have chosen not to report it. This is a real disservice to the community. God bless our municipal workers, I pray for those of you who have been exposed to hazardous conditions and are sick. Dont give anything away, make them take it!


Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 4 p.m.

"Now, for just a minute, you put yourself in the shoes of the FD. What would you're level of willingness to work with the city be?" Absolutly ZERO; No arguments there.


Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 2:14 p.m.

So just to recap. These other tiny little groups (police command has 2 people in the 'labor group') Are agreeing to no pay INCREASES and are being praised by the city. The FD not only didn't take a pay increase (no praise for the 90 people there), but actually gave money back. Their praise from the city was essentially: We'll layoff 14 of you if you don't agree to a pay cut. As soon as the city got not only what they originally asked for, but a percentage point higher, they then came back with 'ha ha, now we're going to take 20. Due to an election year, it's political suicide to make a cut that deep when you're going for re-election. So instead they lay off 4. Not like cops where they were 'vacant positions'. 4 Actually memebers of the FD are gone after giving the city what they asked for. Now, for just a minute, you put yourself in the shoes of the FD. What would you're level of willingness to work with the city be?

Steven Harper Piziks

Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 1:59 p.m.

When times are lean, people in the private sector howl that employees in the public sector need to take reductions because the private sector is taking them. And when times are good, people in the private sector remain utterly silent about increasing wages to the public sector, so during the booms, the private sector rakes in nice raises and bonuses and benefits while the public sector workers get measly raises that barely meet inflation. That's trade-off. If you work in the public sector, you don't get big money or big raises EVER, but you do get good benefits, a steady job, and at least a small raise. If you work in the private sector, you get big raises and nice bonuses when times are good and reductions when times are bad. So it's grossly unfair for private sector people to complain that the public workers have it so good during lean times, because public workers don't get to enjoy the prosperity during boom times.

Steven Harper Piziks

Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 1:40 p.m.

When times are lean, people in the private sector howl that employees in the public sector need to take reductions because the private sector is taking them. And when times are good, people in the private sector remain utterly silent about increasing wages to the public sector, so during the booms, the private sector rakes in nice raises and bonuses and benefits while the public sector workers get measly raises that barely meet inflation. That's trade-off. If you work in the public sector, you don't get big money or big raises EVER, but you do get good benefits, a steady job, and at least a small raise. If you work in the private sector, you get big raises and nice bonuses when times are good and reductions when times are bad. So it's grossly unfair for private sector people to complain that the public workers have it so good during lean times, because public workers don't get to enjoy the prosperity during boom times.

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 1:39 p.m.

@Robert M. I asked the city's HR director for the union membership counts and she referred me to the list from a few months ago. If you read the story you're critiquing, you'll see our analysis of a survey done by McGraw Wentworth, the city's employee group benefits brokerage firm, shows that Ann Arbor employees enjoy top-dollar benefits. According to the survey, the average Ann Arbor employee last year paid only 6 percent of the $981 monthly cost of his or her health benefits. Across the marketplace, the average monthly cost was $532, and employees typically picked up 41 percent of that amount.


Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 11:10 a.m.

I think, a good exercise for our bargaining unit people to take a look at what's going on around the state and what is happening in other cities, because it's a different picture than in Ann Arbor in many ways," said Mayor John Hieftje Your right Mr Mayor, for once, we do not have any financial problems here, except for the imaginary ones that are dreamed up or created by incompetence.

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 9:58 a.m.

@Cash From the last counts I saw from a few months ago, we're talking about 50 employees. There may have been some retirements or departures since then.


Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 9:44 a.m.

How long can it go on that the FF and PD do not pay toward their health insurance???? Sure would like to see the facts with numbers. The City has been held hostage by the unions on the benefit issue for over 30 years. Time to correct it. Those that work for the Feds certainly pay and have for years as do those in the private sector. I am certainly tired of having smoke blown up my... regarding how great they are. Continually hear about fear of layoffs and possible service cutbacks yet the unions back a mayoral candidate that is clueless. Dare I say most of our FF and PD live outside the city and care little about the City itself. Also, no need to sling hash at public service funding. It has been budgeted for years and although I do not agree with the amount or the complete recipient list I know the community benefits greatly from it. However, there should be some weeding out done. Far too many ongoing entitlements.


Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 9:15 a.m.

eom, We are not calling for there to be no police,firefighters or teachers, we are calling for them to share in reasonable sacrifice which they are not currently doing to any degree. So please quit the grandstanding. Now if what you are saying is that all the above current public servants will quit their jobs if they have to take paycuts and pay toward their healthcare I would have no problem with that. There are plenty of qualified folks currently unemployed who would be ecstatic to replace them at a fair cost to the taxpayer. That cost savings could then be moved back into the classrooms for the students, the road repairs etc.


Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 8:56 a.m.

At least the teachers aren't the only ones that get lambasted in the press. I wonder what will happen to all of you naysayers when we have no police, firefighters or teachers willing to work for no money, no pension, no benefits, and certainly no appreciation from its public.


Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 8:26 a.m.

"announced a major breakthrough in negotiations--with only a handful of the city's unions". This is going to save thousands of dollars. How many thousands of dollars and what is the number for the "handfull" of people? To be calling this a "breakthrough" is a joke! They will now contribute a whopping 6% of their pretex income to their pension. I wish I could contribute 25% to a pension but I don't have one, just like most other workers in the private sector. "They do not pay a monthly premium or any co-insurance" and deductibles are $250 per person and $500 per family. Wow, must be nice that we taxpayers give public employees these unafordable perks. My out of pocket "in-network" deductible under Blue Cross is $1000.00 per person and $7000.00 family. This has got to change. Funding for any public sector issues cannot continue via tax raises until public employees start living the dream like the rest of us in the private sector.

Marshall Applewhite

Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 7:29 a.m.

Yeah, just equalize the benefits already. There's no reason they should be so out of line with other cities. Absolutely no reason.


Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 7:22 a.m.

I think the way to get police officers to the table make concessions is to claim poverty while "finding" $1.27 million for Human Services and... Refusing to provide compensation when they are injured in the line of duty. See article below.


Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 7:18 a.m.

How many people are a "handful"?