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Posted on Wed, Oct 7, 2009 : 5:46 a.m.

Ypsilanti Township officials, union at odds over 32-hour week

By David Wak

Ypsilanti Township’s move to cut back hours for many township employees brought an emotional reaction from those union members Tuesday, who argued officials should have explored other cost-saving measures instead.

Effective Oct. 5, the township cut back the hours of 37 employees represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union from 40 to 32. Those employees are the township's clerical and maintenance staff.

Union members argued that while their contract called for possible hourly reductions, they had no inkling those reductions would be implemented at all, much less immediately. They have since sent the matter for arbitration and demanded the township rescind the agreement.

Under the contract, the union agreed to hourly reductions, along with a clause for PTO - paid time off. In exchange, the township agreed not to lay anyone off for 16 months.

Township Supervisor Brenda Stumbo said full-time employees could use their PTO to make up for lost hours. For example, she said, some full-time employees could accrue 4.25 to 5.75 hours of PTO per week, making the actual hourly reductions 2.75 to 3.25 hours, depending on their seniority.

Stumbo said the agreement was needed to cut costs. The township says the move could save roughly $50,000 in 2010.

Stumbo said the township still has a positive fund balance, but has been hit hard by the announced General Motors plant closing, nearly 2,000 home foreclosures in the last year, and the loss of some state-shared revenue.

The township also was hit by a recent 19 percent increase in its overall health care costs. That increase will cost the township around $2,600 per employee annually, said Township Treasurer Larry Doe.

Stumbo said the township aims to maintain full-time services for residents, although the township did cut back hours at its Civic Center in conjunction with the changes. The center is now open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. instead of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Stumbo added she fully understands the union members’ position.

“They were upset about it. Anyone would be upset if your hours are reduced,” Stumbo said.

Cheryl Lynn-Bruestle, the local AFSCME chief steward, said at first the union didn’t agree to an hourly reduction in exchange for a 16-month layoff freeze. She said if members had agreed to it, they certainly weren’t expecting such an immediate hourly reduction, but were told it might happen if the economic situation got truly dire.

Lynn-Bruestle and other union members doubted the township’s claims that the situation was bad enough to call for the hourly cuts. She said said other expenditures weren’t looked at closely enough and called the reduction “a disingenuous act.”

“We feel that we bargained in good faith, and this is what we got,” Lynn-Bruestle said.

Resident Bill Winters, father of the township attorney Doug Winters, was critical of the union members’ stance. Winters, a former UAW official, said the union agreed to the contract with an hourly reduction clause and needed to look over the contract.

“You said you’ve been taken. I don’t believe that,” Winters said.

Township labor attorney John Hancock worked on negotiations with the union until the contract was ratified in August. He said the clause was in the contract for possible hourly reductions, but neither side discussed when or if it would be implemented.

The union made some concessions in its contract. This year, members will receive 1.5 percent to 3 percent pay raises, but their wages will be frozen indefinitely after 2010. Workers, whose annual salaries average $48,000, will lose between $2,612 to $4,320 per year under the hourly reductions, according to the township’s figures.

Next year, teamsters and non-union township employees are expected to face 3 percent wage cuts, with the possibility of layoffs in both groups.

In total, the township employs about 115 people.

AFSCME staff representative Winston Johnson said the union gave up too much in the contract.

“Are these (reductions) absolutely necessary at this time?” Johnson said.

Township Clerk Karen Roe made an emotional appeal to union members, saying they need to understand how dire the financial situation is for the township. She said if they didn’t make the necessary cuts, the township could be facing a $12 million deficit in three to four years.

Roe also said the township is pushing for an upcoming police millage, but if it doesn’t pass, the number of deputies on the street will be reduced. She said she and other board members didn’t take the decisions lightly.

“I don’t sleep at night worrying about this,” Roe said.

David Wak is a freelance writer for Reach the news desk at or 734-623-2530.



Sun, May 9, 2010 : 9:38 a.m.

My problem with this is everyone in the union has familty ties to the job. So this is more like a family fued' take a hit like everyone else around here time's are tough. All because your family member got you a job you feel the tax payers should have to take care of you the rest of your life,,,MAN UP


Fri, Oct 9, 2009 : 8:33 a.m.

this amounts to a less than 10% hour reduction and no layoffs. The rest of us have been living a worse reality since the start of 2009. 0 raises, several weeks off without pay, 401k matching gone, 10 to 20% layoffs, no bonuses. Consider yourselves lucky.


Thu, Oct 8, 2009 : 5:22 a.m.

I can understand why people wouldn't show compassion towards the AFSCME employees. They naively ratified that contract. But the fact remains that township officials continue to spend ENORMOUS amounts of money on legal fees. The amount they are saving from cutting the household budgets of these employees by 20% is nothing in comparison. If you log onto their website at and look at "all news articles," there is a spring 2009 newsletter with an article about police services. It states in part "A savings of over 2 million dollars is more than twice the legal fees spent by the township." Also "Despite voluntarily paying the same rates as every other township throughout the course of the litigation, the county seeks almost $2 million dollars more in penalties." Now they are going back to court, possibly the Supreme Court, to appeal this decision. Who do the officials think they are? They say they have the best interest of the residents at heart. Who do you think the attorney is that they are paying for these lawsuits? The same attorney who was their treasurer in the campaign during 2008. What if the auditor had been their campaign treasurer? Do some research folks. Go to the State of Michigan website up the campaign finance reporting and when you get to the right place enter committee id number 513421-8

dading dont delete me bro

Wed, Oct 7, 2009 : 1:36 p.m.

zetu...ignorance factor? whut u mean?


Wed, Oct 7, 2009 : 1:32 p.m.

As usual there will be opposing views on many topics. However, if one truly reads and comprehends the facts than the ignorance factor is not shown as in comments made by tuffact2follow.


Wed, Oct 7, 2009 : 8:46 a.m.

Sorry there is a typo in my previous comment. It is the GLM PAC, not GLL that you will find on the Michigan Secretary of State Campaign Finance site.


Wed, Oct 7, 2009 : 8:44 a.m.

This is just the "tip" of the iceberg! Soon the cuts that have hit the manufacturing jobs will hit the municipal workers, we will see how they react! Just keep taxing and spending! You voted for "change" now you will have less of it! What is good for GM, what is Good for the A2 News is good for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union. Enjoy the change......after Carter came REAGAN!


Wed, Oct 7, 2009 : 8:42 a.m.

These are tough times for everyone no question asked but of all people to say he didn't think that Ypsilanti Township employees "had been taken" by the "O Gang " (Stumbo,Roe,Doe) and their always available 'yes people' (Currie,Sizemore, Eldridge,Martin) it is the township attorney's dad. Guess dad Winters doesn't see anything wrong with his son taking a cool $1M for the last many many years from the taxpayers and in the process treating township employees disrespectfully when the mood hit him. Imagine sharing that $1M with those 37 employees and their families. Ah but then perhaps Doug Winters needs to get his $7,000 back from his Citizens for Open Government PAC contributions to the 2008 "O Gang" campaign. Maybe he needs to return the $10,000 he received from the GLL PAC (Garan Lucow Miller PAC as in the other company receiving big money for lawsuits for the "O Gang". Check the Michigan Secretary of State Campaign Finance Reports (closed committees) to find reports. Maybe because of these tough times those AFSCME employees should ask for their $500 2008 campaign contribution to Supervisor Brenda Stumbo's Residents 1st PAC (Washtenaw County Clerk Campaign Finance Reports). It does pale in comparison. Only comment left to make to the AFSCME employees is as the saying goes "careful what you ask for you just might get it".

dading dont delete me bro

Wed, Oct 7, 2009 : 8:01 a.m.

although not thinking hourly reducttions would occur...they did agree to it! they can join the crowd. many of us that pay their wages, myself incliuded, has had hours cut! get to work and be happy you have a job!


Wed, Oct 7, 2009 : 7:38 a.m.

Hope and Change! We have it now! This is what happens when Democrats run a city, state and country.