Friday, March 11, 2011

Financial Martial Law Declared in Michigan

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, together with the state's Republican legislature, has passed a bill allowing the governor to dissolve the elected governments of Michigan's towns and cities, and replace them with "emergency financial managers" who can cut services, merge or eliminate school boards, and lay off unionized public employees without recourse. All the governor has to do to justify such action is to proclaim a “financial emergency.” There are no limits to the salaries of these “managers” and they will be given a free hand to govern as they see fit, without any accountability to voters or residents. Republican senator Jack Brandenburg, a supporter the bill, called it "financial martial law."

The actions in Lansing and Madison so appalled film maker Michael Moore that he blathered incoherently to Rachel Maddow, “This isn’t the country I live in.”

This move will make it much easier to impose corporate CEOs at the helm of cities and school boards and thus facilitate the creation of more private charter schools,  as well as general union busting measures. The provision that allows the managers to fire public employees is an end-run around collective bargaining and other worker protections that have been bargained into their contracts, and will likely lead to PACTCO like attacks on Michigan’s public workers. Detroit already has a financial manager, Robert Bobb, who has been joyfully ripping Detroit Public Schools asunder, helping to shutter half of them and raise class sizes to 60.

Hundreds of pro-union demonstrators filled the Capital in Lansing on Tuesday. Their chanting was so loud that it disrupted the legislature. Over 1,000 also demonstrated outside the Capital, including firefighters, teachers, steel workers, and other unionists.


  1. OMG. I had been resisting the idea of a General Strike, but if it's come to this...

  2.'s the only way

  3. I have to agree, and not just for WI. Workers across the country, including in places with Dem. governors, like CA and NY, need start going on the offensive. Everyone is getting squeezed for the benefit of the rich.

  4. This scares the hell out of me and has far broader implications than just education.

  5. A democracy must have an educated populace to nurture it. When the populace is not well educated, a few can persuade many to give up some democratic ideals proclaiming it is for the good. When this is added to fear, a few can change the entire makeup of a government. We might be at that threshold. If a select free keep preying on the fear of the uneducated or poorly educated, we can and will find ourselves in a very different United States. It is time for all educators to stand up and be counted before we are silenced by the current wave of attacks on our profession and ourselves.

  6. Yes, David, far broader implications than just education. Aside from the attack on democracy (which is really just an escalation of the already extensive corporate control of the political system), it is a powerful way to crush unions and the power of workers across the board.

    However, standing up and being counted, Anon, will be insufficient. What is needed is a general strike, lots of general strikes, not just by teachers, but by all workers. The ruling elite could care less about our opinions and needs, but they DO care about their profits. Only when workers cut into the bottom line through job actions will the bosses listen.

    When we do this, when we've got the bosses scared of our power (and the potential for even greater losses in their profits) we can actually make far greater demands. Rather than simply asking for a return to the old status quo, which included years of stagnant wages, benefits cuts, and service cuts, we should go on the offensive and start demanding what we really want and need.