By Dianne Feeley for Labor Notes – Last week auto workers from Chicago and Detroit made a pilgrimage to the birthplace of auto workers’ sit-down strikes to lend solidarity to workers who’ve been locked out for eight months and counting. Honeywell locked out 320 aerospace workers with Auto Workers (UAW) Local 9 in South Bend, Indiana, on May 9 after they voted 270-30 to reject the company’s offer. Another 40 Honeywell workers with Local 1508 at in Green Island, New York, are also locked out. Honeywell was demanding the power to change health care premiums and deductibles unilaterally. The rejected proposal would also have eliminated cost-of-living increases and retiree health care…
By Michele Oberholtzer for Occupy – Back in July, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against Wayne County Treasurer Eric Sabree for foreclosing on owner-occupied homes in the area around Detroit. The lawsuit, which was anticipated for years, could dramatically affect the fate of thousands of families if it is successful. But even so, it will only impact about one-tenth of the properties headed for auction starting this Wednesday, Sept. 7, at 9 a.m. EST. The Wayne County Tax Foreclosure auction is seen nationwide as an opportunity to buy Detroit homes on the cheap.
By Sara Jerome for Takepart. Detroit, MI – Aurora Harris is familiar with the way people sound when they first lose water service. “I try not to let it affect me emotionally, but there are some days where it’s heartbreaking to listen to elderly people crying on the phone, begging for water,” said Harris, cofounder of the community group We the People of Detroit. In Detroit, water and sewer bills have doubled in the last decade for thousands of customers living in poverty, according to the advocacy coalition People’s Water Board. Rates continue to rise. In May, the city resumed its practice of shutting off the water of delinquent customers, and as of July 1, nearly 4,000 households were eligible for disconnection, according to Bryan Peckinpaugh, spokesman for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.
By Kate Abbey-Lambertz for The Huffington Post – DETROIT — In a neighborhood that has lost its school, library, streetlights, many businesses and a huge chunk of its population, one woman is transforming her half-abandoned block into a community hub, where there are books to borrow, people playing in the park and lights on in the darkness. Shamayim “Shu” Harris lives in a house on Avalon Street in Highland Park, a small city surrounded by Detroit. Blighted and broke, Highland Park faces challenges similar to Detroit’s, but lacks the public attention and private investment that has boosted Detroit in recent years.
By Marsha Cole for Black Agenda Report – The United States has no moral authority to speak of “human rights” as an American “value” when it systematically deprives Detroit’s Black poor population of water. “The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has begun shutting off water to 3,000 people a week, and could soon cut off access to drinkable water for 150,000 Detroit residents.” Meanwhile, the city has decided not to disconnect businesses – or even a corporate-owned graveyard.
By Barbara Goldberg for Reuters – Detroit Public Schools closed nearly all of its 97 schools on Monday as hundreds of teachers called in sick to protest the cash-strapped city’s revelation that it will soon run out of money to pay employees. The shutdown due to “teacher sickouts” was announced on the website for Michigan’s largest public school system with 45,786 students, which has been under state control since 2009. Detroit Federation of Teachers Interim President Ivy Bailey said in a statement on Sunday that the district was “effectively locking our members out of the classrooms”
By David J. Unger for Inside Climate News – DETROIT, Mich.—As major cities across the globe begin to take a leading role in the world’s response to climate change, one U.S. metropolis has a decidedly grassroots approach to preparing for a wetter, warmer world. In Detroit—a city that faces a myriad of pressing socioeconomic and environmental challenges—local residents are working on a plan to mitigate the long-term impacts of climate change. Unlike the climate action plans drafted by city governments in places like New York, Chicago and Boston, Detroit’s green roadmap is spearheaded by the Detroit Climate Action Collaborative
By Eliza A. Webb for Truthout – A new investigation by the US Attorney’s Office has uncovered evidence of long-lasting corruption within the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) system and has charged 12 current and former Detroit principals with fabricating invoices, evading taxes and taking $1 million in bribes and kickbacks from the district’s vendors. This newly unearthed scandal is wholly unsurprising to the teachers of Detroit, who have seen corruption and injustice dominate the city’s education system since 1999, when state-appointed emergency managers were first given the power to override Detroit’s elected school board.
By Laura Flanders for the Laura Flanders Show. The teachers sent out pictures of something that’s had a hard time getting seen: the social cost of austerity.The teachers secured attention from at least one national candidate – Hillary Clinton who pointed out such conditions wouldn’t be tolerated in more affluent places. Majority Republicans in Michigan’s Legislature threatened new laws to make it easier to crack down on protesting workers. We’ll see what happens. Meanwhile, it’s worth reviewing how the Detroit schools got into such a fix. The system wasn’t always broke. According to analysis by the Citizens Research Council, a Michigan based policy group, the Detroit schools were enjoying a surplus in the 1990s. Now, 41 cents of every dollar appropriated for students is being spent on servicing city debt.
By David Bacon for The Reality Check – In spite of the growing sense of disbelief and horror surrounding the lead contamination of drinking water in the Michigan city of Flint, at least one thing is clear: that the catastrophic levels of pollution and destruction are a direct result of the extreme policies pursued by the Michigan’s right-wing leadership. A very conservative group has controlled Michigan since the election of Governor Rick Snyder and a Republican majority in its legislature in 2011.
By Mario Vasquez for In These Times – Education activists cheered today as Darnell Earley officially stepped down from his position as emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools (DPS). His departure came after thousands of teachers staged rolling “sick-outs” to protest his role as the unelected head of the school system. Strikes by teachers and other municipal employees are illegal under Michigan law, but more than a dozen times this winter, groups of teachers called in sick to protest frozen wages, ballooning class sizes, decaying buildings and other conditions they say are the result of state-imposed austerity.
By Sherrell Dorsey for Next City – Mike Feinman owns and operates E&L Supermercado in Southwest Detroit. The grocery store has been in his family for three generations, and has supplied the surrounding community with a variety of Hispanic food offerings and farmers-market-fresh produce since the 1940s. Despite a much-debated reputation for food deserts (some point to not a lack of stores, but rather a lack of transportation available to help people access existing stores), Detroit has several indie grocers like E&L that have spent several decades feeding residents.
By Staff of The Associated Press – DETROIT (AP) — Detroit Public Schools says all schools are in session a day after a massive sick-out by teachers kept tens of thousands of students at home. District spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski gave the update about Thursday’s classes. Disgruntled Detroit educators have stepped up efforts to protest Gov. Rick Snyder’s plans for the district, its ramshackle finances, dilapidated buildings, overcrowded classrooms and their low pay.
By Khalil AlHajal for Michigan Live – DETROIT, MI — A group of teachers stayed home from work Tuesday in protest of longstanding state control over Detroit Public Schools, forcing the closure of three schools with their “sick-out” action. The teachers said they stayed home due to “Snyder flu,” gathering with students for a brief demonstration against ongoing emergency management outside the Detroit School of Arts on Tuesday afternoon. State-appointed emergency managers have run the district since 2009, leaving the elected school board with little power, particularly after the passage of laws strengthening Michigan’s financial emergency law in 2011 and 2012.