Most Read
  • Thank you, Detroit

    I’m not going to lie to you – this isn’t easy. This week, the final City Slang local music column will be published in the Metro Times (on hardcore band Final Assault), and I have just submitted a cover feature on the women of Detroit hip-hop, to be published next week (8/6). This blog that you’re reading now will be my last one as a regular MT contributor. I have a lot to look forward to. I’m going to be an associate editor at Yellow Scene Magazine in Colorado, a tremendous publication in a beautiful part of the country. But leaving Detroit will be incredibly difficult for me. I love the place. It’s been (amazingly) six and a half years since I arrived, a couple of cases in hand and not much of a plan in mind. I just knew, after three separate research trips for books and a magazine article, that I felt at home here. Metro Times offered me freelance work almost immediately, as did a new website called Metromix (whatever happened to that?) When I arrived here, I had been working as a writer in the UK for nine years, but the help and encouragement I received […]

    The post Thank you, Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers

      We here at MT will be delighted when Mr. Jack White throws out a pitch at Navin Field (at least, we hope he will), but until then, we’ll be happy with his pitch to Santa this evening at Comerica Park.    

    The post Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW)

      Footage from the Gathering of the Juggalos set to clips of Morgan Freeman’s narration from March of the Penguins? Kind of forced, but also kind of beautiful. As the AV Club reports: The oft-sought voiceover champion lends a touch of gravitas to the festival proceedings. Unfortunate scenes of barely clad people having various liquids dumped onto them now carries a quiet dignity as it’s all part of nature’s majestic plan that keeps the world spinning through this elegantly designed and truly wondrous universe. Also, the video is NSFW as there are boobs in it. Watch the clip below:

    The post Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW) appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love”

    It seems like the polar vortex will never end: the weather phenomenon that brought us the most brutal winter on record this winter is to blame for this summer’s chillier-than usual temperatures as well. A couple of bands, though, made lemonade out of lemons (or snow cones out of snow?) by using the icy landscape to film music videos. 800beloved shot the video for “Tidal” in some sand dunes near Empire, Mich., and this week Turn to Crime debuted the video for “Can’t Stop,” the title track of their recently-released album. Even more piles of ice and snow might be the last thing Detroiters want to see right now, but the footage makes for some good visuals that mesh well with the song. Watch the video below:

    The post Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love” appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed

    Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr transferred oversight of the the city’s water department Tuesday to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan in an order intended to refocus “efforts to help DWSD customers get and remain current on their water bills,” Orr’s office said today. “This order provides additional clarity to the powers already delegated to the mayor,” Orr said in a statement released Tuesday. “As the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department works to operate more efficiently and communicate more effectively with customers, it is important to ensure there are clear lines of management and accountability.” Duggan will have the authority to manage DWSD and make appointments to the utility’s board, according to a news release. In a statement issued Tuesday, the mayor said he welcomed Orr’s order, adding that officials will develop a plan that “allows those who truly need to access to financial help … to do so with shorter wait times.” “We need to change a number of things in the way we have approached the delinquent payment issues and I expect us to have a new plan shortly,” Duggan said. “There are funds available to support those who cannot afford their bills — we need to do a much better job in […]

    The post Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years

    Rovers Scooter Club, a local gang dedicated to celebrating and riding motor scooters, will be celebrating its 10 year anniversary this week with a very special ride. Motor City Shakedown, the annual birthday party for the club, will commence this Friday, August 1 at New Way Bar. DJ Grover from Cincinnati will be spinning northern soul, reggae, and ska, according to club member Michael Palazzola. Saturday will feature a ride from Ferndale to Detroit, starting at noon at M-Brew. Palazzola says this is where most bikes will congregate before taking the ride to the city and folks will be prepping by getting some grub starting at 10 a.m.  Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host the after party,  a special event that will feature performances by several bands as well as Satori Circus. That portion of the event will commence at 8 p.m. with performances starting at 9 p.m. It’s free to riders, but the public is welcome to join the party with the mere cost of a door charge. Come midnight, the club will raffle off a vintage Lambretta LI 150. Sunday morning will end the weekend of festivities, with brunch taking place at the Bosco in Ferndale.   

    The post Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Politics & Prejudices

Labor strikes back?

Trying an end-run on emergency managers and right-to-work laws

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

I know the one thing we did right

Was the day we started to fight

Keep your eyes on the prize

Hold on.

—Civil rights movement song


For more than a year, unions and working people have taken a pounding, ever since Rick Snyder became governor and Republican right-wing ideologues captured the Legislature.

A tough new emergency manager law sailed with ease though the Legislature; among other things, it gives such managers the power to tear up contracts negotiated in good faith, if they feel like it.

The lawmakers put strict limits on how much local governments could offer their workers in terms of health benefits, proving once again the ancient proverb that Republicans are in favor of local control ... except when they aren't. 

They went after teachers' unions, with the clear intent of making it harder for them to represent their members by forbidding payroll deduction of dues. They also seemed bizarrely obsessed with preventing a handful of graduate research assistants at the University of Michigan from forming a union.

Even that wasn't enough, however. Increasingly, legislative Republicans have been talking about passing what they call right-to-work legislation, which really has nothing to do with workers' rights and everything to do with destroying private sector unions.

They want to outlaw the "union shop," the mechanism that for decades has given labor the power to stand up to the powerful corporations by ensuring that workers can vote to make sure the entire bargaining unit is represented by the union of their choice.

Snyder, who is more intelligent and less blindly ideological than most legislative Republicans, opposed this. He told his fellow partisans that this wasn't necessary, and urged them to notice how going too far had actually backfired in Wisconsin and Ohio.

But they didn't care. The goal of these Tea Party lunatics is smashing the unions, and punishing anyone who works for the public sector by cutting their pay and benefits. They don't have much use for workers in the private sector either, though they don't say that.

Throughout all this, the Democratic Party remained mostly disgracefully silent. True, they have little or no power these days, especially in the state Senate. True, they whined and sniveled about how awful Snyder's programs were. 

But they did nothing, other than cast meaningless votes against whatever programs the right wing was shoving through. Did Democrats offer any kind of counterproposals instead?

Did they leap to defend the workers? Did the Democratic minority leaders stand up and say "we propose that instead of taxing pensions, cutting aid to education, and throwing poor kids off cash assistance we do something else?"

Such as, raise income taxes on those who can afford them?

Did they have the guts to do that? Not on your life. But now, somebody finally has: the unions. To my stunned surprise, the unions got together and came up with a proposal that could be a game-changer and merits everyone's support.

Last week, a union-friendly group called We Are the People held a press conference to announce a drive for a state constitutional amendment that would protect collective bargaining.

People had expected some effort made to ward off "right-to-work." But this goes far beyond that. Collective bargaining rights are what created the middle class in this country and made America great. This amendment would enshrine them in the state Constitution for both private sector and public sector workers alike.

The proposed amendment says: "The Legislature's exercise of its power to enact laws relative to the hours and conditions of employment shall not abridge, impair, or limit the right to collectively bargain for wages, hours and other terms of employment."

If this passes, nobody could outlaw collective bargaining or throw out contracts collectively arrived at. No matter what. 

Unlike the silly "recall Snyder" proposal, which was doomed to failure from the start, this is likely to get the 322,609 valid signatures needed to get on the ballot, since most Michigan labor unions have vowed to help collect them.

Now this is something worth fighting for. Should this get on the ballot and be approved by a majority of the citizens voting in November, it would apparently nullify several major pieces of Snyder-era legislation. The sweeping powers emergency managers now have to ignore union contracts would end. The law outlawing unions for university graduate students would be null and void. Laws aimed at weakening teacher unions would likely be invalid as well. 

Zack Pohl, the spokesman for We the People, the umbrella labor group leading the charge, said the unions were willing to spend what it needed to get the amendment on the ballot and then passed, though he wouldn't say how much. 

He did say, "We fully expect we'll have lots of enemies," who will spend heavily to try to get the public to defeat the amendment.

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