Police, firefighters protest cuts outside Bing’s mansion
August 10, 2012
More than 100 members of Detroit public safety unions and their families rallied Friday in front of the Manoogian Mansion to protest pay cuts, layoffs, demotions and schedule reforms.
Most participants carried signs objecting to Mayor Dave Bing, including some that depicted his face on a wanted poster for “union busting,” “endangering lives of citizens” and “running a corrupt government.”
Bing last month imposed 10 percent wage cuts and other concessions, including increased health care co-pays, on city employees in a bid to save the cash-strapped city $102 million.
“We’re not just here about the 10 percent cut,” said Clive Stewart, executive board member of the Detroit Police Officers Association. “Officers understand that there has to be sacrifices, but it’s the eroding away of our contract and union-busting tactics that we will not stand for.”
Detroit police officer Katherine Price, who marched with her two sons, said the pay cuts will force her to pick up a second job, which she says will be virtually impossible with the newly announced 12-hour work days.
“How am I going to work two jobs and work a 12-hour shift?” asked Price. “It puts a strain on my family.”
Disgruntled Detroit firefighters also attended the rally, protesting the layoff of 27 more firefighters and the demotion of nearly 150 others because of fire house closings.
Jeffrey Urbas, who was demoted from sergeant to firefighter, said the staffing cuts plus the demotion will severely affect his salary.
“We’re losing 22 percent of our pay when we’re demoted from rank back to firefighter, so that’s roughly $15,000 a year,” said Urbas, who was with Engine 47, which closed Friday.
But Fire Capt. Karl Hofbauer said it’s not about the money. It’s about the safety of the citizens.
“People will die — that’s a fact,” Hofbauer said of the layoffs. “It’s not like we’re crying because we can’t get our way.”