Moratorium NOW! Coalition organizer talks with striking City of Detroit water workers who walked off the job the same day. They are represented by AFSCME 207. (Photo: Abayomi Azikiwe), a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Detroit water workers defy federal judge's order to return to work
7:32 PM, October 1, 2012
By John Wisely
Detroit Free Press Staff Writer
Detroit Water and Sewerage Department workers risked jail time and the loss of their job Monday evening as they ignored a federal court order to return to work and continued a strike outside the wastewater treatment plant in southwest Detroit.
Members of AFSCME Local 207, who began the strike Sunday, even defied Al Garrett, president of the umbrella AFSCME Council 25, who asked them to return to work.
“I think the workers feel like they are in a fight for their lives,” said Shanta Driver, a lawyer for Local 207. “They don’t care what Al Garrett says.”
Driver said at one point, local members shouted down officials from Garrett’s office, who were telling workers they could be fired for striking.
Contractors, Teamsters and others were honoring the picket line throughout the day, Driver said.
The strike has raised concerns among Mayor Dave Bing and U.S. District Judge Sean Cox, who oversees DWSD under a federal consent agreement, over possible pollution discharges into the Detroit River. However, sewage flow at the plant has been down recently because of a lack of rain.
Driver said workers targeted the wastewater treatment plant because it didn’t threaten the supply of drinking water to the region, which is produced at other plants. DWSD supplies water to 4.3 million people in southeast Michigan everyday.