The Craig Fahle Show

Why Bankruptcy Is Not Collective Bargaining

Thursday, June 12, 2014

_Photo courtesy of the Detroit Free Press _

Bankruptcy reporter and Next Chapter Detroit blogger Sandra Svoboda and Attorney Sam Alberts, who represents the Official Committee of Detroit Retirees and co-chairs the American Bankruptcy Institute's Labor & Employment Committee, both join Craig to discuss the differences between the bankruptcy process and collective bargaining negotiations in Detroit.

As Detroit pensioners prepare to vote on the Plan of Adjustment, Alberts says it's important for city employees to remember that this is a different process than collective bargaining. While our guest explains that treating it as such is probably not the best approach, Detroit’s long history with the labor movement, the auto industry and collective bargaining create a contextual backdrop for pensioner’s current contention.

Alberts points out that the language in the bankruptcy process may sound similar to that of collective bargaining, but the two are different. As Reverend David Bullock , president of the Highland Park chapter of the NAACP, explained on the show earlier this week, “Michigan means so much when you think about the automotive industry, when you think about the labor movement…so fast forward then to the financial crisis, I think people from that history would say, ‘well never in Michigan, right?’”

Alberts thinks that most pensioners realize that his committee and other groups have negotiated “very hard to get the best deal for retirees.” So, he suspects that those who are not voting in favor of the city’s proposed restructuring plan don’t realize that they’re indirectly giving the courts the opportunity to approve much worse treatment to pensions.

--Annamarie Sysling

Find more coverage of Detroit's bankruptcy and its impact on people and neighborhoods on WDET's Next Chapter Detroit blog.

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