For Immediate Release
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Bill Castanier 517-449-8771
A coalition of unions promoting the passage of Proposal 3 today said opponent's cost estimates for implementing state employee collective bargaining are absurd and that collective bargaining could actually save taxpayers money.
"State employees will use collective bargaining process to curtail the unbridled spending in the state contracting system which has surpassed $3 billion a year," according to John Denniston, president of MSEA, state government's oldest union representing 5,000 state employees.
"We will bargain for specific contract language to control sub contracting agreements and personal service contracts that have allowed patronage, political payoffs, cronyism and awards to out of state vendors to grow with absolutely no oversight," he said.
According to Denniston, the State Chamber of Commerce, the Mackinac Center, the House and Senate Fiscal Agencies, The Office of the State Employer and Governor Engler have all conjured up costs of collective bargaining to show the sky is falling.
"Their numbers are absurd and the only thing that will fall is the income of their friends and relatives. State employee unions will continue to be fiscally responsive and will use contract language to assure that state employees are watchdogs and whistle blowers on overpriced and unnecessary contracts that do not serve the taxpayer," he said.
Denniston said the independent and highly respected Citizen's Research Council recently issued a report showing that raises for the Michigan State Police, which have had collective bargaining since 1979, were only one-tenth of one percent higher than those for other state employees. The report also showed that during that time period salary increases for state employees, as a whole, fell below the state per capita income growth by more than 1.5 percent.
"More than anything the opponents of Proposal 3 are worried about losing their inside track to cushy privatization contracts and a shadow government that has spiraled out of control," he said. "We will show during our campaign how the state can save money without cutting critical services."
The coalition, the Michigan Employee Rights Initiative (MERIT), consists of eight unions representing nearly 50,000 state employees.