Do Lansing Leaders
Favor Unions over Citizens?
January 4, 2012
My recent investigation
into City of Lansing employee
compensation has revealed that they do very well, indeed. Some
Out of about 1100
permanent employees, 235 had 2010
earnings over $70,000.
Average salary for
152 police officers in 2010 was $55,099; average earnings were $60,362.
Average salary for
88 firefighters in 2010 was $56,589; average earnings were $66,596.
firefighters can retire at any age after 25 years. Police pensions average 93.9% of salary and fire pensions
average 91.3% of salary.
There seems to be a love
affair between unions and some of our city leaders:
In Virg Bernero's
2009 mayoral campaign, he was endorsed
by Fraternal Order of Police, the Teamsters, the UAW, and the
firefighters union. In his 2010 gubernatorial campaign, "the
angriest mayor in America" was the champion of the working man. (To
be fair, Bernero was also included in a list of "Michigan's Most
Odious" by Eric Baerren , editor of
who said in a December 31, 2011 post:
Virg Bernero built
a national public persona going on Fox News and shouting,
shouting, shouting about the working man. The working man is
getting screwed in America by the rich, he howled on Fox News,
and now appears with semi-regularity with MSNBC's professional
shout machine, Ed Schulz.
Oh, but that Tee
Vee reflected reality. Back at home, the pitbull for the working
man has regularly tossed his own union workers under the bus to
benefit Lansing's 1 percent. This is not some new development,
mind you. Teamsters in the city went more than 1,000 days
without a contract, a period during which they
filed an unfair labor practice against him for hiring scabs
to save money and demanding the sort of wage and benefits
concessions Bernero says on Tee Vee are destroying the middle
While you can't
blame a municipal leader for trying to make shrinking dollars go
the furthest, you can blame a guy for doing it while shouting
about the evils of things he's doing before a national audience.
It's tough when
liberal politicians are faced with having to balance a budget.)
City council member Carol Wood boasted of several union endorsements in
her 2011 campaign, including Lansing Firefighters Local 421.
Derrick Quinney is health and safety director of the Michigan
AFL-CIO and a UAW member.
Newly-elected 1st ward council member Jody
Washington had the
endorsements of the MEA, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Lansing
Firefighters union, the Michigan Nurses Association, the United Auto
Workers union, the Greater Lansing Labor Council, the Greater Lansing
Building Trades, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers,
the Plumbers and Pipefitters union, and the Southeast Michigan Building
After Lansing voters
rejected a millage increase in May 2011, 36 police officers and 11
firefighters were laid off. Even after a 4 mill increase was approved in
November 2011 with 3 mills dedicated to police and firefighters, there
remained the possibility of additional layoffs.
You would think that faced
with layoffs as a result of budget constraints, loyalty and brotherhood
among public safety workers would lead them to share the pain and agree
to wage concessions rather than allow fellow employees to lose their
jobs. However, union member solidarity does not seem to extend to members
with low seniority.
And since layoffs result
in less police and fire protection for the city, wage concessions are
for Lansing citizens.
Remember in October when Davenport
backed out of a deal to swap land with the City and build
a $13 million, 60,000-square foot building downtown, on the Oliver
Towers property? It was because council members Carol Wood, Brian
Jeffries, Derrick Quinney and Eric Hewitt voted against hearing
Davenport's presentation. It seemed like such a great deal for Lansing,
and no one could figure out why it could not at least be given a
fair hearing. Could it be that it was because Davenport, which has a
non-union staff, would be competing head-to-head with
heavily-unionized Lansing Community College?