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Detroit Crisis Needs Real Solutions

In July, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder authorized Detroit’s Emergency Financial Manager Kevyn Orr to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, an act that a state judge later deemed in violation of the state’s constitution. The case is now in federal bankruptcy court.

The city’s crisis is real, but Snyder and Orr are targeting city workers’ pensions which average less than $19,000 a year and account for only 4 percent of the city’s financial obligations rather than address the actual cause of the problem: decades of outsourcing and tax base erosion.

AFSCME called upon President Obama and Congress to commit federal assistance for Detroit, and to demand the state of Michigan match that funding. (Since 2002, Detroit’s share of state revenues was slashed by $160 million.) We called upon the White House to convene an Urban Crisis Task Force to execute workable solutions to the economic problems of Detroit and other severely struggling American cities.

A Detroit bankruptcy sets a dangerous precedent. Those who profit from the collapse of public infrastructure see in these struggling cities an opportunity that comes entirely at the expense of the American worker. Their toxic vision for profit above all else shouldn’t shove aside one of America’s bedrock values: that all American workers deserve to be treated fairly and with dignity.

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