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Posted on Mon, Aug 29, 2011 : 8:12 p.m.

Ann Arbor officials sign labor contract before state-imposed health care benefits cap

By Ryan J. Stanton

After a 7-0 vote Monday night by the Ann Arbor City Council, a new labor contract is in place that will carry the city's largest union and its 230 members through Dec. 31, 2013.

City officials acknowledged they called tonight's special meeting in order to beat the clock and ratify the agreement before a new state law imposing limits on public employee health care benefits takes effect. Now the city's AFSCME employees will get better health care benefits than they otherwise might have gotten under the new state law.

The city and AFSCME Local 369 have been operating without a contract since the last labor agreement expired June 30.

The new contract, first approved by the union last week, still includes major concessions, including a reduction in pension and health care benefits.


Stephen Rapundalo

Council Member Stephen Rapundalo, D-2nd Ward and chair of the council's labor committee, acknowledged in an interview last week that even though the union is making concessions on health care, it still is getting a better deal than it would under the new state mandate.

"To go from what they were used to getting, to go to the state-imposed requirements, really would have been a drastic change," Rapundalo said.

Council members present for the 7-0 vote included Rapundalo, Sandi Smith, Sabra Briere, Tony Derezinski, Christopher Taylor, Stephen Kunselman and Marcia Higgins.

Mayor John Hieftje and three other council members — Margie Teall, Carsten Hohnke and Mike Anglin — were absent.

The union ratified the contract on Tuesday, one day before the state Legislature approved new legislation limiting the amount a public employer can pay toward workers' health coverage at $5,500 annually for individual employees, $11,000 for married couples and $15,000 for family plans.

The legislation gives schools and local municipalities the alternate option of paying 80 percent of employee health care costs, while employees pay 20 percent.

The Publicly Funded Health Insurance Contribution Act, expected to be signed by Gov. Rick Snyder this week, takes effect Jan. 1, 2012. While it doesn't apply to existing collective bargaining agreements until they expire or are extended, any collective bargaining agreement executed after Sept. 15, 2011, must be consistent with the hard cap or the 80/20 provision.

Public employers can opt out of the limitations altogether with a two-thirds vote of the governing body taken annually. But if a public employer fails to comply with the law, the statute imposes a penalty of a 10 percent reduction in state aid.

A legislative fiscal analysis estimated the law will provide an annual savings to the state of $42.5 million under the hard cap provision or $59.1 million under the 80/20 split.

Cost savings to individual municipalities or school districts will vary based on the type of health insurance plans and number of participants in the programs.

Tom Crawford, the city's chief financial officer, said the concessions being made by AFSCME are expected to save the city $660,000 annually, including $140,000 in the general fund.

As previously reported, the new contract includes the following highlights:

  • No across-the-board pay increases for the duration of the agreement.
  • Employees will pay an additional 1 percent into their pension plan to equal 6 percent of pay.
  • Effective Jan. 1, 2012, all AFSCME employees will be on the updated city health care plan, which has a significantly higher employee cost share than their current plan.
  • For fiscal year 2012-13, which begins next July, the projected savings from the agreement is equal to about 3 percent of total compensation for AFSCME employees.
  • All new AFSCME hires will become vested in the city pension plan after 10 years (up from 5 years) and have an access-only style plan for retiree health care benefits in accordance with a resolution recently passed by City Council.

Janet Carpenter, the city's human resources analyst, wrote in a memo that the negotiated contract is in alignment with contracts recently settled with other city labor groups and includes a change in health care coverage that mirrors the city's nonunion plans.

Until now, AFSCME employees have enjoyed much better health care benefits than other city employees — with the exception of the city's police and fire union members. According to an report from earlier this year, AFSCME employees have been paying deductibles of $225 per person, but with no co-insurance on medical bills and no out-of-pocket premiums.

Now they'll have a choice between two health insurance options — a "high plan" and a "low plan." The plans were forced on non-union employees last July, and some of the city's smaller unions followed suit and agreed through negotiations to switch over.

City officials said earlier this year most employees typically opt for the high plan in which they pay $44.31 per month from their paychecks for individual coverage or $119.63 for a family. That's a cost AFSCME employees haven't had to think about until now.

The deductible under the high plan is set at $300 for an individual or $600 for a family. But employees also must pay 20 percent co-insurance on medical bills with an out-of-pocket max set at $1,200 for an individual or $2,500 for a family.

City officials said earlier this year the low plan was set up similarly, but instead of monthly paycheck contributions, it includes deductibles of $1,000 for an individual or $2,000 for a family. Those who opt for the low plan still must pay the same 20 percent co-insurance on medical bills with an out-of-pocket max of $2,400 for an individual or $4,800 for a family.

The city has been trying to get its police and fire unions to switch over to the same health care plans to save money and preserve jobs, but negotiations have progressed slowly.

Rapundalo noted tonight that AFSCME was keen about maintaining its city-paid union president position, which he considers a vestige of the past. He said city officials plan to revisit the position, which is costing the city about $100,000 to $110,000 a year in salary and benefits, the next time the contract with AFSCME comes up for renegotiation.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.



Wed, Aug 31, 2011 : 1:10 a.m.

Thank you to Ann Arbor city council for standing up to the insanity that continues in Lansing! Hopefully the 80/20 proposal will get overturned in the courts, in which case, Ann Arbor will be vindicated.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 11:50 p.m.

Mr. Stanton - You keep saying that nonunion employees began to pay high and low insurance premium last July. This is inaccurate. it began years ago.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 11:47 p.m.

Everyone is complaining. Did you complain all those years when public employees got paid less than private employees? I don't remember hearing a peep. No doubt you found that fair. You act like service personel are slaves who deserve nothing. As benefits and pay go down at the City, so will the quality of employee. Not that many of the complainers will notice. Since they assume everyone ast the City is incompetent anyway, true incompetence will be unnoticed. You seem to want a newstandard where everyone gets almost nothing. If that occurs, it will become permanent. There will be nothing to aspire to. Furthermore, you are the same people who scream about the little guy getting stomped. These are the little guys. They cut lawns, trim trees, clean streets, pick up garbage, repair streets. process papers. Many don't earn all that much to begin with. AFSCME employees are generally not high earners. Police and Fire hold that honor, yet they can do no wrong in your eyes. How skewed is your vision. The contract has not yet been signed. I imagine it took a lot of negotiating to get to that contract. Did it ever occur to any of you that the union is under no obligation to sign a contract which they didn't agree t?. That the benefits they now receive they would continue to receive if contract negotiations went back to the table. THAT is why the City is glad. Use the brain God gave you. Geez. I apologize for sounding so digusted, it's just that I am.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 6:38 p.m.

The point of the matter is the city council is supposed to protect the financial interests of the taxpayer and the city. Not the public employee unions. The unions, as a group, I believe the largest donors to the democratic party. It makes very little sense to allow someone with a vested interest in giving the unions what they want and whom they depend on financally for funding the authority to bargain with them. It's called conflict of interest. I don't expect it to change though, making yourself feel good is much more important to the democrats than fiscal responsibility. At least it seems that way with Ann Arbor's democrat politicians.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 10:55 p.m.

I'm not saying every decision the council makes is good; it would be extraordinary if they all were. What I'm saying is that doing the cheapest thing (scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of health care coverage for city employees simply because the legislature says we can) is not always the best thing. The council members are stewards of more than just the public money; they are stewards of the and public welfare, the standards of the city, the ability of citizens to be productive happy -- and so much more. I happen to agree with you on police and fire: I don't think they should lay off more public safety employees. But neither do I think they should strip employees of health care coverage just because Lansing says we can. In both cases, I favor providing good jobs for those who are valuable members of the community.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 8:29 p.m.

dotdash, So increasing the city's costs while laying off public safety employees is a good thing? You need to reexamine your priorities. The Mayor and city council are profligate spenders and not good stewards of the public's money. There are more examples out there than I can count. Water fountain, public art official, choo choos that no one wants. It goes on and on and on.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 7:35 p.m.

The city council is supposed to protect the general interests of the citizens of this city -- and that means making the best decisions, not the cheapest ones. It's not like a corporation where the bottom line of the quarterly statement is the only thing that matters. We, as the citizens of AA, elect a council that will make this a good place to live -- not to squeeze every dime until it squeaks, not to force public employees to live on the least possible amount we can, and not to knuckle under to Lansing. Maybe it costs more to create a wonderful city. The voters of AA have voted time and time again *not* to do the cheapest possible thing, and that is why it is a great place to live.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 5:12 p.m.

This is crazy! We have all gone through "drastic changes." Unions are NOT good for business or taxpayers. You - unions - continue to force us regular folks to fight to see you all overturned. I can't wait for Michigan to become a Right To Work State, and bury these communists once and for all. The nerve...unbelievable.


Wed, Aug 31, 2011 : 12:36 a.m.

" Unions are NOT good for business or taxpayers." Business= Halliburton: Not good for taxpayers (or the environment). Business= Walmart: Not good for taxpayers Business=Countrywide Mortgage: Not good for taxpayers. Business=BP: Not good for taxpayers. Business=AIG: Not good for taxpayers. Business=Massey Energy Corp: Not good for taxpayers. Business=Hooker Chemical: Not good for taxpayers. Business=MorganStanley/Citigroup/BOA/Lehman Brothers: Srsly not good for taxpayers. Unions protect workers, who also happen to be taxpayers, btw. Unions are responsible for many of the worker-protective labor laws in effect today, and whether you like to admit it or not, you benefit from those laws. If you want to know what life would be like without the unions, take a look at just about any Central American economy. Workers earn pennies per hour and work 12-15 hour days. There are no protections for workers who get hurt in unsafe working conditions, and women often can't find work in the textile sweatshops after their mid- to late-20's . (The factory owners say that the workers' hands are arthritic from all the sewing they've done, and they can no longer operate the machines, so they get fired. Nice, huh?) Unfortunately in those countries, the sweatshops are often the best places to find work. (Apparently the turnover is high.) That's what life would be like (and was like) in the good old US of A because that's how businesses operate in the presence of competition and the absence of regulation. You really want that for Michigan?


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 9:25 p.m.

All these jobs were driven out of this country by unions. Sure. Who could you get for $1.30 an hour in the US to build auto parts? Where would people live on $50 a week? Maybe under a bridge somewhere?

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 8:04 p.m.

Yes, and now the pendulum has swung to the other end, and unions have driven jobs right out of this country. There needs to be a balance.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 7:23 p.m.

Do you have any idea what labor practices were like before unions? We'd all still be working 10 hour days, 6 1/2 day weeks if it weren't for unions. No paid vacations, no maternity leave, no right to have grievances addressed. Look into it, because those conditions will come back and you might not like it so much after all.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 4:51 p.m.

Basically, the Ann Arbor "officials" voted 7-0 to spend more money then they should have. Why? So certain Union members would make political contributions to those same "officials". . And the scam continues. . .

Mr Blue

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 5:41 p.m.

YEah, like only working folks in unions give to candidates. Give me a break.

Stephen Landes

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 4:27 p.m.

Seems to me that our beloved Mayor was recently whining about the State needing to change the arbitration law to save municipalities from unacceptable awards in contract negotiations. So, the State acts to save municipalities and school districts from excessive benefits costs and the City Council with the Mayor's concurrence circumvents the work of the State so we can have the privilege of paying more than we should have to. If this wasn't so expensive a screw up we could sit back and have a good laugh at insipid local politicos and their foibles.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 7:10 p.m.

"should have to"? You mean, rather, "can get away with".


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 3:52 p.m.

Practical? no. Symbolic, with everyone elses money? Yes. Funny. Glad I'm in Ypsi.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 4:04 p.m.

We are too.

Mr Blue

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 3:39 p.m.

Please tell us on what do you base your claim of "excessive labor law". AS far as I know groups of people who come together to further their betterment together is not unconstitutional or illegal. In fact it is the basis of Americanism. Please explain what you mean when I tell everyone that people who pick up trash, mow lawns and process your water bill are just like the rest of us, common folks. Why would anyone deny working people a living wage, complain they they have it, and by virtue of their argument say that nobody deserves to be paid a living wage for what they do. Hey Hankamp! Are you still unemployed?


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 3:28 p.m.

Let's link these two current headlines, eh? "Ann Arbor officials sign labor contract..." and... "Christopher Taylor champions tax increase..." KInd of sums up quite a bit, doesn't it?


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 2:49 p.m.

Ok now that this union is paying some of there health care, its about time they have skated why others have paid. Yet sued the city for every penny they could get, lets talk about pay cuts that are going on all over the US, we are over paying them look at what employees that cut grass , trim trees, pick up garbage at other cities are making. Plus some mechanics making 35 dollars an hour not including benefits, come on Northwest had this problem and hired mechanics for 18 to 20 dollars an hour, why getting the same quality of work as the higher paid ones.Someone needs to take a look at the pay scales at ann arbor and compare them to other cities. JMO.


Wed, Aug 31, 2011 : 1:19 a.m.

Please know the facts before shooting off your mouth. Repeated studies have shown that public employees make less than private sector when you compare apples to apples in terms of the jobs they do - including benefit costs! Support the right to earn a living wage. If more people had unions then the corporations would not have been able to fleece them with lay-offs, pay cuts and benefit cuts, in order to boost their shareholders' profits.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 2:42 p.m.

It seems to me that if the taxpayers of Ann Arbor wish to provide a living wage and reasonable benefits to city employees, it should be no one's business but their own. Funny how Republicans only believe in the concept of "home rule" when they're not in charge at the state level, and only believe in "states' rights" when they're not in charge at the Federal level. This governor and legislature has turned both revenue sharing and the school aid fund into slush funds- dipping into both to fund tax breaks for their Corporate buddies, and using them as weapons to force their ideology down the throats of local communities and school districts. We need to bear in mind that there's a reason why Ann Arbor is one of the most desirable places to live and work in, and it's certainly not because of fiscal austerity; in fact, there's often a direct correlation between high tax rates, high-tech jobs, and property values. If you want to live in a place where anything that doesn't turn a profit is value-engineered out, I suggest moving to one of the many Walmart communities, where you have to get permission to plant a shrub and can only paint your garage door in shades of brown or gray. What Snyder just doesn't "get" is that all the tax breaks in the world will not inspire high-tech and research companies to locate here if they can't find people that want to live here; what we'll get instead are PO Box corporations and minimum-wage customer call centers. And folks, stopping buying into the Republican rhetoric pitting Americans against each other. There's a reason why greed and envy are considered two of the "seven deadly sins"; when you attack public employees and their compensation, you need to recognize that you're just bidding down your own compensation in the long run; witness Verizon, which is demanding $1B in concessions from 45,000 workers ($20K per!) despite making a $10B profit last year.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 4:03 p.m.

Well said guyfroma2mi!


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 2:42 p.m.

Well now it is confirmed. The Ann Arbor mayor and City council has decided not to represent the taxpayers of this city but to represent the unions. And I am sure the mayor will disavow this vote and claim he had no part becasue he didn't vote. We all know that nothing goes through City Council and especially something this big without the Kings approval. And not all union employees get to benefit from their backhanded sneakiness. Not the fire and police. They'll just get more cuts. What really bothers me is that Council is patting itself on the back for not negociating the best deal for the City of Ann Arbor. Now we have Council asking us to raise taxes to pay for sidewalks. And soon they will ask us for a City Income Tax. Why would I ever give you more money to throw away! I think it is time to rebuild this Council with people who really care about the people who pay the bills. I think in all of your union fed hoopla about Gov Snyder, you have lost sight of the fact that he won with an enormous margin. Democrats, Republicans and Independents voted for him. I pay for my family's health care. Yes that's right. I didn't wait for God to provide or for the government or a union to pay my way. I'm sick and tired of paying for all of you whiners! You guys don't help me write the check every month.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

This is a prime example why the law had to be changed. We have a 100% Democratic City Council that is bought, paid for and in bed with the unions. Of course they jump right into action, have a special meeting and pass this at the last minute when their biggest supporters are in danger. You would think there would have been at least 1 person on this board that would have had the integrity to say "No" this isn't right but I guess not.

Mr Blue

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 5:39 p.m.

It's a joke isn;t it? Yeah, it was all those union voters. Nobody else votes for council or mayor.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 2:31 p.m.

Representative republics! Hurumph!


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 1:19 p.m.

I am proud to live in a town that will grant health benefits to the people who work here. Those are our neighbors, our community members, our employees. Of course times are tough, and those who feel the tax pinch can express an opinion. But why so eager to have Lansing in our business? Let's be an extraordinary town and make our own decisions.

Ron Granger

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 1:17 p.m.

Everyone should have good health care. Especially people who have worked their entire lives. And especially when they get seriously ill. I don't agree with those who think we should stick it to employees at every opportunity. That we should nickle and dime them on health care, that we should cut their benefits, that we should keep them in constant fear of losing their jobs, etc. Government work has traditionally been low pay, but steady income, with good benefits. We don't yet outsource that to China, but give Snyder time, and maybe he will figure a way. Most of us chased high wages in the private sector. Some of us even founded companies, and chased startup dreams. Now that things are a little tough, some are bitter and jealous of government employees who actually get decent benefits. Go figure. The really sad fact is that everyone who has worked their entire life doesn't have decent basic health care. Don't be jealous - support the major changes that are necessary in the system.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 9:10 p.m.

Well said, Ron!

Tony Livingston

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 12:47 p.m.

It's really disappointing that the retirement program was not addressed in any meaningful way here. The health care costs are one thing, but the big elephant in the living room is the retirement. Taxpayers are footing the bill for city employees to retire as young as age 50. That is way too young. I don't understand why council is so unwilling to speak up about that. It is bankrupting the city.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 9:08 p.m.

@Tony How many 55 to 65 year old people can suit up with a hundred pounds of equipment and climb up a 30 foot or higher ladder?? How many people at 65 can deal with a 23 year old, 265 pound person high on speed? Not many. Now look at Ypsi's answer and tell me these people are scamming the system when they retire at age 50? Especially after doing their job for 25 or 30 years. Sorry, they are not paid enough if you ask me.

Mr Blue

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 4:30 p.m.

You're wrong. minimum age is 55 with minimum 25 years of service. And in that period of time , the employee puts in their own money into their own retirement fund.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 2:31 p.m.

Ok, so under your plan a worker who starts working for the City at the age of 20 and works for 30 years should be made to work more... say another 10-15 years? Mandatory minimum retirement age is now 65. So the person gets a 45-year career with the City instead of a 30-year career, right? Fifteen extra years of contributions to the pension plan mean a 15-year increase in the pension benefit. I don't know what the AA pension payout formula is, but say it's half of the average of the employee's best three years. At 30 years, this mythical employee was making $60,000. At 45 years and a 3% raise every year, this mythical employee is making $91,000. At 30 years, his pension payout would have been $30,000, but under your plan it's now $45,000 annually. If sometime during his/her last 15 years on the job, the employee goes into management, the pension payout could reach $60K, $70K or even higher, but for now, we'll just assume that this person was biding his/her time until 65. In case you're thinking that early retirement leads to a longer life and extended pension benefits, guess again. People who retire at age 55 are about 90% more likely to die within 10 years of retirement than people who work until age 65. So, if your 50-year old "too-young-to-retire" retiree dies at age 65 (outrunning the statistics by five years, no less), his/her total pension payout is $450,000, assuming no survivor benefits. If your "65-and-out" retiree lives for 10 years, his total pension payout is $455,000 and if he lives until age 80, his pension payout is $682,500, again with no survivors. So yeah, let's keep 30-year employees on the job because 50 is way too young to retire.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 12:46 p.m.

<a href=""></a> Cut their pay and benefits!


Wed, Aug 31, 2011 : 12:22 a.m.

Good for you Bogie, bravo..who cares?


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 4:05 p.m.

I know volunteer fireman, that do the same job.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 12:41 p.m.

i will ask again, expecting no answer as usual... all of those people demanding that government workers work for less, while you expect more from them...what sacrifice have YOU made in order to bring the state budget under control? I have asked this numerous times and have gotten ZERO responses. Apparently the Whiners have made no sacrifice and are unwilling to share in the problems of the sate, but are willing to blame everybody else for not sharing in the sacrifice. If you think you can do these jobs cheaper and better, apply! If you think you can run govt better, run for office. Or, complain anonymously on-line.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 4:02 p.m.

clownfish Here's my take. Give me the money, that the city uses for government services. I will outsource it, and I get to keep whatever is left. Deal?


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 3:43 p.m.

clownfish I'll take a crack. First assumption: It's my responsibility to sacrifice for the budget woes in Lansing. This assumption is false, because it is not the average citizen's responsibility to correct the imbalance of government worker's salaries/benefits, and thereby 'bring the state budget under control'. That's why we have elected officials. Second assumption: Some sort of unspecified 'sacrifice' on my part will make some sort of difference. This assumption is also false because, apart from raising my taxes, I see no other method by which I can share in the collective sacrifice you hem and haw about. Oh, and maybe do with less services provided by public employees. Look at the big budgetary expenses we have: Community health, higher education, corrections, human services. Can you come up with a viable scenario that will satisfy your clarion call for 'sacrifice' in these top state expenses? There, I took a whack at it.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 12:13 p.m.

Are these benefits really as great as everyone is saying? What kind of pay and benefits are people getting at other 1,000 employee companies? On a side note, I thought pensions were a way of saying we don't feel you can manage your money so we are going to do it for you.

Basic Bob

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 4:19 p.m.

&quot;What kind of pay and benefits are people getting at other 1,000 employee companies?&quot; Just like the ones promised by the state under the new law. Snyder did not pick his numbers out of the air. The new benefits (which will not affect workers in Ann Arbor for at least two more years) may be harsh and draconian to those in the public sector, but even the largest private employers have been forced to reduce their contributions to employee health care. Health care costs are out of control, and if you are looking for someone to blame, put your eyes on the insurance companies. Since they can no longer make money in the stock market, they are forced to cover their costs by raising premiums and cutting payments to doctors and hospitals.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 12:10 p.m.

If you are jealous of the health insurance plans available to these employees, why aren't you negotiating with YOUR employer for a better benefits package?


Wed, Aug 31, 2011 : 12:19 a.m.

Because Kathryn they would rather whine and moan about someone else's benefits than worry about themselves. Nothing new..instead of looking for a new job with better salary and benefits they insist on complaining that no one else should have something because they don't. They think everyone else should lose benefits and pay cause they don't have it, kinda like a two year old.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 8:56 p.m.

The private sector never makes mistakes, never overpays it employees, and always pays worse than those slackers in the public sector. Sorry, I don't agree. Look at Apple, for instance. How about Google? Who crashed the economy a couple of years ago, the AFSME workers in Ann Arbor? No, a group of private sector thieves who are out, even as we speak, spending their billions in ill gotten gains.

Mr Blue

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 5:36 p.m.

If you're company runs low on money, who's fault is it? Yours? Or your boss from his mismanagement? Why should you pay for mismanagement or his business decisions during a bad economy? I guess you'll walk right into his office and tell him to cut your pay and benefits.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 3:59 p.m.

Because Kathryn, we work in the private sector. We are held to what the market allows us to make. We don't have the luxury of taking income from someone else, when our company runs low on money.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 11:11 a.m.

Every once an awhile the A2 city government pleasantly surprises me and this was one of those times. Slick and his republicon congress, and those who would rather live in anarchy than spend a dime on taxes, obviously don't agree. But protecting employees from becoming the football in the political tax game where it is all too easy to score points among cons by attacking public employees and taxes, is a both smart and brave. It was smart in that it was necessary to retain and motivate employees, and it was brave because it probably once again put A2 on the republicon attack radar. Those who aren't in that top 0.01% should focus on getting that $1.8billion back from the wealthy that Slick stole from the K-12 education fund. That was real waste.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 11:09 a.m.

Selective absence by the mayor and other council members? Beating the deadline is counter to the intent of the new rules.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 10:56 a.m.

Hopefully, this will put a dent in the $215.5 million deficit hole in the city's retirement funds. See <a href=""></a>

Mr Blue

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 5:33 p.m.

Anecdotal evidence Tony. Tell us who it is, in which department they worked and for how long. If your neighbor retired below the minimum age and minimum time on the job he took a huge penalty.

Tony Livingston

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 12:53 p.m.

A very small dent, at that. This was a huge missed opportunity to get the retirement age a lot closer to 62. My neighbor just started taking his retirement pension and benefits. He is 52.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 5:05 a.m.

The funniest thing about this latest giveaway? Apparently, 5% of the money they spend on these additional medical benefits has to spend on new artwork in doctors' offices. Hieftje says that's the law, he can't change it, and he has an artist in Denmark all ready to spend the money.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 8:39 p.m.

I didn't see any comment about the overpaid firefighters saving the 200 block of N Main last week either.

Mr Blue

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 4:38 p.m.

I can't figure out where you get your &quot;facts&quot;. Please tell everyone where you apparently got your info that 5% of the money spent on benefits will buy new artwork for doctors offices. Not on preposterous, but delusional as well.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 12:44 p.m.

No comment about the overpaid firefighters rescuing the owner of Kollosos Printing?

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 5:06 a.m.

be spent* (not spend). It would be nice to have a five-minute window for editing our own posts.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 4:55 a.m.

How much extra did Ann Arbor spend by voting this week instead of waiting two weeks?


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 4:21 a.m.

i would have let them be subject to the cap thing.they get much better benefits than everybody else.


Wed, Aug 31, 2011 : 1:27 a.m.

More GOP distortions! If benefits are low at private companies, workers should demand better care! Or support the new national health care law - which should have been single payer, but we all have to compromise don't we...


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 3:27 a.m.

We should also be carefully taking a look at how we &quot;common men&quot; might have been &quot;lucky&quot; enough to land one of these jobs in the first place. My experience has been that when the &quot;commen man&quot; applied for one of these jobs in the past, that the old cliche certainly held true, namely....&quot;It's not what you know, but it's who you know.&quot; Aren't we all being just a way bit silly today wasting our time commenting about how Council, etc. continues to look after all those who they've been looking after all along??? Should we NOW expect Council to stop looking after their friends and family??? Silly us.

Mr Blue

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 5:31 p.m.

Unbelievable repetition of urban myth of it's not what you know...


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 2:17 a.m.

Let's get something straight, this union was NOT operating without a contract....they were operating under the terms of their old contract mandated by state law. That is why they don't go to the negotiating table and talk trash about how unfair the &quot;process&quot; is. Now the process is being changed and our city leaders are circumventing state law and taking pride in it. How unethical is that?


Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 2:19 a.m.

Maybe it was legal chris, but it sure is a &quot;slap in the face&quot; of taxpayers who fairly elected all those officials who are enacting those laws that you think should be disobeyed. So RayA2, pretty much it's going to be every man for himself? Doesn't that go against the &quot;collective&quot; power of unions? Teddy Roosevelt actually circumvented the constitution in the some of his decisions.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 4:10 p.m.

When the state republicons unilaterally create and pass unethical laws that attack working people for their own political gain, the city should take pride in circimventing them.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 2:21 a.m.

Explain how they circumvented state law. They acted legally.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 2:11 a.m.

Like most negotiated settlements, each side doesn't get everything they want. It's called compromise. It's called working and living together and not treating your fellow man as an enemy. So cheers to the Council and the union for agreeing to something rather than dragging out acrimony. And, unless the law changes, union members should expect less in health care benefits next time and loss of the paid union president position.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 2:56 a.m.

Maybe. Maybe not. How much will the difference in benefits directly cost us individually? Probably not much. My guess is the union members lose much more and I don't have a problem phasing in the cuts for them.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 2:18 a.m.

All that should have happened this time.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 1:48 a.m.

This is so bizzare. Our elected officials spend more money than they would have to under state law which is neccesitated by budgetary troubles and then they are proud of it while the union leader gloats at what a good deal the union got. All while cutting services to &quot;ordinary&quot; tax paying citizens and then increasing taxes through various fees and millages for property owners. You guys are corrupt as hell because these unions have the right to organize and &quot;vote&quot; collectively. We can see who our leadership favors, the unions vs. the citizens. Citizens need to get out to vote these &quot;cheaters&quot; out of office.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 12:35 p.m.

Why are you not on the ballot?


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 1:10 a.m.

The interesting item in this for me is that AFSCME has a full time President, he does only union work, but is paid for by the city. Interesting, very interesting


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 12:54 a.m.

Great, and they lock in the higher rate until Dec. 2013. Nice 7 - 0 vote too. I guess all they can agree on is spending our money. Or maybe the money is coming out of one of those buckets that has plenty and we all shouldn't worry about what this is going to cost us?

Mr Blue

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 12:52 a.m.

It sounds like Rapundalo is getting ready to change his party affiliation... again. He's been in the news a lot lately. Appealing to his base, I guess.

Mr Blue

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 4:26 p.m.

And corporations that pay minimum wage, offer no benefits and send overseas what jobs are left, those corporations, multimillion dollar industries with multi million dollar CEO's who get tax breaks, subsidies etc, who can give unlimited amounts of secret money to politicians don't constitute getting beat up by a gang? Give us all a break and stop defending the status quo. Working people have rights too, the right to collective bargain, the right to a decent wage. Stop defending the corporations who work against the interests of common working people!


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 2:12 a.m.

I don't understand how trying to protect the taxpayers can be deemed a &quot;bad thing&quot; why isn't bilking the taxpayers considered a &quot;bad thing&quot;? Because unions have the right to use member dues to promote a &quot;collective vote&quot;. That just doesn't seem fair to me. It's like getting beat up by a gang.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 12:40 a.m.

How much is this going to actually cost us (in real dollars, not in union dollars, which assume a 25% annual raise)? Why should we pay for these Cadillac benefits for public workers when that same type of plan isn't even available for the common man?


Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 3:03 a.m.

johnnya2, #1. yes, I consider 7% of the workforce a &quot;minority&quot; and therefore not representative of the common worker. 2. government employees have far more emloyee protection than the &quot;common&quot; worker. 3. Your right to &quot;collectively&quot; bargain was &quot;granted&quot; by executive order in 1961 by John Kennedy so it was never a &quot;right to choose&quot; as you state but a legislative condition that CAN be taken away from you. What you describe is NOT a union but a consortium of the same industry that is not engaging in &quot;price fixing&quot; or contract negotiations with officials in which they &quot;buy&quot; their elecection with the &quot;collective&quot; dollars from union members. In the business world you would go to jail for such action. For some reason, union folks consider this there right, it is not a right, but a privledge, a privledge that can be taken away.

Mr Blue

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 4:35 p.m.

&quot;I don't get what they're getting so take it away from them and while you're at it, I'll take a pay cut, Boss&quot;!

Mr Blue

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 4:32 p.m.

Where's this 25% annual raise you speak of? Once again, you're making things up.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 11:48 a.m.

Someone has something I don't have. Take it away!


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 4:03 a.m.

@ anapshot &quot; constitute 7% of thework force&quot; how does that make them uncommon &quot;are covered by excessive labor law&quot; - ummm, labor law is not specific to government employees &quot; in addition they have the right tocollectively bargain&quot; as does every other person in the world. If you CHOOSE not to collectively bargain that is on you, not union members. By the way, the businesses of he world collectively bargain every day. The North American Auto show members pay into a fund to promote selling cars. They collectively bargain rates for everything they buy as a group. In fact, why doesnt each company put on their own show, or is it because it gets them a better deal to do it all at once. &quot;arrogance of entitilement,&quot; or the crazy idea of thinking you should be paid for your services and receive benefits. I wonder how many right wing nuts go to their boss and say, I know the company isn't doing well, please cut my pay. I also wonder how many of those people use government workers in their daily lives. I bet you use them EVERYDAY


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 2:14 a.m.

Cadillac benefits...that term cracks me up every time I hear it, considering the majority of the ones with the so called Cadillac benefits couldn't afford one of those cars with the wages they make. Blame your city officials for the overblown bloated amount they allege it costs per fte. Considering your great elected leaders refuse to open their money books to outside auditors when they keep saying they are broke. But no matter what, you absorb what they say as gospel and shake your finger and call them greedy the blue collar folks that actually do the work and don't demand the over 100k salaries with additional stipends. Yet you look right past all those ones to growl at the median income ones. Sad.....very sad.


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 1:49 a.m.

I remember when folks got government/public jobs &quot;for the benefits&quot; rather than, and I know I'm generalizing, the better pay from private sector jobs. Folks who want to blame unions for their negotiated benefits and salary seem to ignore the fact that white collar, private sector salaries have gone stagnant. Don't blame unions for the costs private sector employers have foisted upon its employees, along with stagnating salaries.

Michigan Man

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 1:46 a.m.

Blue is a union man so what other line of thinking could one expect? Poorly thought out, very shallow and probably crafted by union leadership, before Blue was allowed to speak!


Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 1:42 a.m.

Mr. Blue, government workers are not &quot;normal&quot; workers. Government workers constitute 7% of thework force, are covered by excessive labor law, and in addition they have the right tocollectively bargain. To think this is &quot;normal&quot; is not normal, it is the arrogance of entitilement, far worse than any welfare benefit.

Mr Blue

Tue, Aug 30, 2011 : 12:56 a.m.

Reasonable people would call the majority of public workers common. People who mow lawns, pick up trash, fix streets, provide public safety, process your water bill, ticket parking scofflaws, listen to chronic whiners... You know the &quot;common man&quot;.