Ypsilanti Citizen News Lincoln Schools

City Council approves all mayor's re-appointments
By Dan DuChene
Jun. 16, 2010   ·   3:42 a.m.

Jone Coleman, president of downtown business LookInTheAttic, shares his thoughts with City Council about the discussion and procedure taken to pass mayoral re-appointments, which he was being considered for the Downtown Development Authority.

After much procedure, Ypsilanti City Council approved six mayoral re-appointments to city boards and committees Tuesday, including the two postponed from earlier...read more

Council postpones two reappointments
By Mark Tower
Jun. 4, 2010   ·   4:57 p.m.

Two of Ypsilanti's volunteer board members were not reappointed on schedule Tuesday night, owing to a 4-2 vote by City Council to delay the appointments until...read more

Downtown properties to be rehabilitated
By Mark Tower
Jun. 4, 2010   ·   10:40 a.m.

The three properties located at 120, 122 and 124 West Michigan Avenue in downtown Ypsilanti will soon be rebuilt into commercial and office space and loft apartments, thanks to a planned $1.7 million investment by developers.

Three recently-vacated properties in downtown Ypsilanti, two of them condemned, will soon be renovated owing to recent purchase by a local development company and...read more

Ypsilanti Township authorizes litigation against Liberty Square
By Mark Tower
May. 28, 2010   ·   6:53 p.m.

Many of the homes in the Liberty Square complex on Grove Street in Ypsilanti Township are already boarded and ready for foreclosure sale. All 151 units, some of which are still occupied, will be condemned Tuesday, Ypsilanti Township has resolved.

Residents living in the Liberty Square complex of townhouses will see a sticker appear on their homes Tuesday, when the Ypsilanti Township Building Department places...read more

Ford plant granted tax exemption by township
By Mark Tower
May. 24, 2010   ·   5:44 p.m.

Ford Motor Company's Rawsonville Plan, located at the intersection of Textile and Bridge Roads in Ypsilanti Township, will soon be the new home for production of Ford's Electric Focus batteries, formerly produced in Mexico.

New machines and equipment will soon be wheeled into Ford's Rawsonville Plant in Ypsilanti Township as it begins manufacturing a line of batteries for the new global...read more

Township shortens work week to 32 hours

Cheryl Lynn-Bruestle, chief steward for AFSCME Local 3451, addresses her displeasure with the Township board's decision to cut eight hours from the work week. Photo by Christine Laughren

Cheryl Lynn-Bruestle, chief steward for AFSCME Local 3451, addresses her displeasure with the Township board's decision to cut eight hours from the work week.

AFSCME employees voice objection to cut

By Christine Laghren
Sep. 16, 2009    ·    7:18 a.m.

Ypsilanti Township will be reducing its work week to 32 hours beginning Oct. 5.

In a 5-0 vote Tuesday evening, the board voted to change the hours of operation at the Civic Center, cutting a half hour off the beginning and end of each weekday.

The new hours of the building, at 7200 S. Huron River Dr., are expected to be from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Trustees Dee Sizemore and Mike Martin were absent from the vote.

According to township officials, the change is intended to save the municipality money and have the least negative impact to service for its residents.

The township board voted unanimously. However, several in the audience, many of whom are members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union, said the reduction of eight hours to their work week was not something they expected when their contract was ratified in a unanimous vote by the township board Sept. 1.

Cheryl Lynn-Bruestle, chief steward for AFSCME Local 3451, went as far as to call the decision “heartless and cruel.”

“Until we meet and find out exactly what this is going to entail we want you to know our displeasure, at this point, with this decision you have made,” Lynn-Bruestle said during the public comment session of the board meeting.

Language in the contract stipulates the township’s three full-time managers would meet with the union to discuss the procedure to be followed and the reasons for reduction of hours if the need to do so arose.

Lynn-Bruestle said employees have been asked to provide part-time schedules before that meeting has occurred. She also said the reduction of hours language was put into place only if there was a “drastic” need to do it.

“It’s not a given to take us down to 32 hour workweek,” she told the board.

The measure cuts approximately 20 percent from the salaries of AFSCME employees, saving the township roughly $50,000 in 2010.

Township Supervisor Brenda Stumbo said a meeting with union representatives has been scheduled for Sept. 28. She also told Lynn-Bruestle she thought members of the union completely understood cutting hours was an option.

“I thought it was honorable that the union didn’t want any layoffs for 16 months, so in exchange for that there was a 32 hour work week to save jobs,” she told Lynn-Bruestle and members of the audience.

Township Clerk Karen Lovejoy Roe agreed with Stumbo and said the township is in dire straights.

“The biggest issue that’s facing us is the $1.7 million deficit,” Roe said. “With what we’re facing there has to be cuts in labor cost and they have to be substantial and that’s what we thought you were willing to do to protect your 15 members that were going to hit the street,” she said.

Roe also said the savings from the reduction in hours would only be a temporary fix and an estimated 15 employees would still most likely be laid off in January 2011.

Employees have the option to supplement reduced hours with hours accrued from paid time off. But several who got up to speak said they don’t have enough hours accrued to cover hours lost.

Township employee Daniella Smith said, as a single mother, her accrued PTO hours are pretty low and she asked the board to consider other cost-saving measures.

Lynn-Bruestle said it’s the spending that the township’s managers have to look at.

“I know your budget here and backwards,” she said. “This is a huge thing and I can’t believe you can’t find other ways to cut corners than to gouge us by 20 percent.”

Township Trustee Mike Martin, who had to leave the discussion early to catch a plane, said he has negotiated contracts for more than 30 years and voiced some apprehension toward the concessions made by the AFSCME union.

He said, though he wasn’t at the negotiating table, he couldn’t figure out why the union made such large concessions when his understanding was the board was looking for 3 percent. He said he voted on the agreement because the union ratified it.

“I don’t endorse a 32 hour work week,” he said. “What becomes problematic is there is language in here that calls for a 32 hour work week.”

Before he left, Martin said both sides had an obligation to sit down and discuss the procedure prior to the township implementing the reduction in hours.

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