Last month, a United Nations panel held that cutting off water to Detroit residents suffering from high unemployment rates and low incomes, leaving them unable to afford their water bills, was a violation of basic human rights. This past weekend, actor Mark Ruffalo and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) joined close to a thousand protesters in a march organized by National Nurses United from Detroit’s Cobo Center to Hart Plaza. The chants of the crowd included “We got sold out, banks got bailed out." And there were renewed calls for a financial transaction tax, commonly referred to as a “Robin Hood tax.”
Actor Mark Ruffalo, most famous for playing the Incredible Hulk in the Marvel Comics movie "The Avengers," led a crowd of 1,000 through the streets of Detroit in protest of Republican policies that have led to water being shut off for thousands of the city's residents. National Nurses United (NNU) organized the rally. The United Nations and others have called the city's actions a violation of human rights, and demands that the water be turned back on have come from across the political landscape. Hundreds of different organizations and their members showed up at the march, which began outside Detroit's Cobo Center, where the annual Netroots Nation convention is being held. Protesters marched passed the city's Water and Sewerage offices before ending at Hart Plaza.
A federal bankruptcy judge today ruled that the city of Detroit is eligible for bankruptcy protection and may cut pension benefits for retired city workers despite a provision in the state’s Constitution banning such pension cuts. Attorneys for city workers, firefighters and police officers say they will appeal the judge’s ruling.
As the story goes, the city of Detroit went bankrupt because of $18 billion in long-term debt, in large part caused by pension and health care benefits. A new report, written by Wallace Turbeville and released today from Demos, says that narrative is inflated, inaccurate and irrelevant to explaining the city's bankruptcy.
AFT member Raquel Castañeda-López became the first Latina woman to be elected Tuesday to the Detroit City Council. The Wayne State University adviser was raised in a union family. Her immigrant father was a member of Plasterers and Cement Masons (OPCMIA) Local 6 in Detroit and her mother was a Rural Letter Carriers' member.
It wasn’t crab cakes and calamari delivered via room service to his tony penthouse paid for by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s (R) “secretive nonprofit foundation,” but Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s so-called emergency manager overseeing the city’s bankruptcy, turned down an offer of a free lunch.
Maybe he doesn’t have the taste for a down-home chili dog, but it’s more likely he didn’t have the stomach or backbone to dine with the retired city workers who invited him to lunch Monday. The retirees who, Orr has said, face “significant cuts” to pensions.
The Beatles first visited Detroit just before Labor Day in 1964, and they gushed with admiration for the Motown sound. Detroit hummed with industry then, like the Beatle’s own Liverpool, England, with its bustling ports and pop music scene. Both industrial cities would soon flounder, losing 40 percent of their populations over the next 30 years.
Several unions representing Detroit city works and retirees challenged Detroit’s claim for bankruptcy protection. The challenges were filed Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Detroit, the court which will determine if the city is eligible for bankruptcy protection. AFSCME Council 25 said the city has not proven it is insolvent and has not negotiated in good faith with its creditors.