Cleveland: Keeping Christmas at Home
Ramona: The War on Happy Holidays
Richard Day: Cold in Minnesota, and in the Hearts of Men
So after many, many months of glorying in his efforts to break public worker contracts in his great state of Michigan (formerly our great state of Michigan), Governor Ricky has decided that it's not okay to break a contract when it's a contract Governor Ricky doesn't want to break.
Governor Ricky is in the bridge-building business these days. (Real bridge-building, not the kind that builds bridges of understanding or cooperation. Do NOT accuse him of such a thing!)
We already have a bridge in Detroit that takes us to Windsor, which is in that other country we don't like to talk about anymore because they seem to have their shit together when it comes to taking care of their own. The bridge in Detroit is called the Ambassador Bridge, and, except for a time after 9/11, when we got a little crazy with stopping and searching, traffic flows regularly if not always speedily across it. It's privately owned, which should thrill the Guv no end, but apparently there's something in it for him if another bridge is built a couple of miles south of the Ambassador that will take us to a spot a couple of miles south of where we already disembark on the Canadian side.
|Map rendering: Montreal Gazette|
What brings me to this is Tuesday's story in the Detroit Free Press. There are thousands of folks in Michigan (over 400,000 petition signers so far) who think this sort of undertaking requires approval by voters, and they want it on November's ballot. Gov. R. says the deal can't be undone now because (chew on this for a while, public and even private employees) contracts have been signed.
Gov. Rick Snyder believes that even without special wording, a constitutional amendment passed by voters in November could not undo a contract signed in June, his spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said Monday.
"Like any other contract or agreement, it's intended to be binding and not impaired by other actions," Wurfel said.
Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel (Matty) Moroun opposes the public span and is circulating petitions to get a proposal to amend the Michigan Constitution on the Nov. 6 ballot that would require a statewide vote on the new bridge.
In an interview last week, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said the state constitution "protects contracts from being amended after the fact from a standpoint of the retroactivity aspect of the proposal that they intend to put on the ballot."
Oy and gag and stop already!
Aren't these the same people who decided teacher contracts were about as obsolete as the unions that came up with them in the first place? Aren't these the same people toying with doing away with public education--and their confounded public employee unions--and thus their contracts, with aid and comfort from ALEC, the Koch brothers and our own home-grown nemesis, the Mackinac Center? (Answer: Yes, they are. The very same who also came up with the radical notion of taking over whole cities and towns--and thus their contracts as a sure-fire way to make their wishes come true. And also too, came up with heaping mounds of funds to do it.)
From the AP via the Huffington Post ("Gov Rick Snyder signs Teacher Tenure Law, Links Student Performance"):
Personnel issues related to layoffs and employee discipline no longer will be subject to contract negotiations, and teachers can be dismissed for any reason that's not "arbitrary or capricious." They previously could be discharged or demoted only for "reasonable and just cause." State superintendent Mike Flanagan has said the language should have been left unchanged to protect teachers' rights to due process.
Here's the thing about contracts: The assumption by both signing parties is that once the contract is signed, something important and lasting has taken place. By consensual agreement, the signed contract is binding until one of three things happens: It expires, the contracted job is successfully completed, or both parties agree to review and revise it. (the latter happens often these days with labor unions, where concessions almost always come from the workers and almost never from the employers. If someone knows of a reverse story, I would love to hear about it. It would be a 21st Century first for me.)
The idea of binding contracts is apparently old school and is losing favor all across the wide and mighty land. The new thinking is that a contract is only good until the party with the most power breaks it. My new thinking is that that's not a contract, it's a bloody scam.
(Cross-posted at Ramona's Voices)