Local Government Employee Union Contracts for Every Michigan County and 28 Largest Municipalities Available Online

Assembled collective bargaining contracts will allow residents to scrutinize pay, benefits, work rules for police, therapists and ‘comfort station matrons’

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011
Contact: Paul Kersey
Director of Labor Policy
Michael D. Jahr
Vice President for Communications

MIDLAND — Collective bargaining agreements for all 83 Michigan counties and the state’s 28 largest municipalities (cities and townships) are now compiled and available online, Mackinac Center Director of Labor Policy Paul Kersey announced today. The database contains contracts for nearly every collective bargaining unit in these locales.

“Union contracts are one of the biggest drivers of the cost of government in Michigan,” said Kersey. “But the public is rarely — if ever — told what all the terms are, or what the contracts are like for nearby communities. This new database will allow residents to see the compensation and work rules for their local government employees and compare those with neighboring or similar communities. It will be a great tool for taxpayers who want to hold their local elected officials accountable.”

Among the many things the contract database reveals is the sheer complexity of managing government workforces. Perhaps the most striking example of this is the city of Detroit, where 29 separate contracts cover more than 750 work classifications, including “comfort station matrons,” “aquarists,” “recreation specialists” and “tree artisan helpers.”

Research on government costs indicate that as much as 80 percent of the cost of government is related to personnel. Government employee compensation and other collective bargaining issues have been at the heart of several statewide debates this year, including the state budget, the emergency financial manager law, employee contributions toward health care and teacher tenure rules. Public-sector collective bargaining was first allowed under the Public Employment Relations Act, which was enacted in 1965.

“Collective bargaining under PERA does not serve the public interest,” said Kersey. “A lot of municipalities’ fiscal problems result from inflated wages and benefits, and restrictive work rules. As Michigan residents and policymakers see what’s in these contracts, there likely will be greater interest in making changes to unionized government to restore fiscal sanity.”

The database can be found at: http://www.mackinac.org/15392.