Wayne Co. workers worry about wage cuts from Ficano's debt plan

Wayne Co. workers worry about wage cuts from Ficano's debt elimination plan

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(WJBK) -

During his State of the County Address Tuesday night, Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano said he is working to reduce a $200 million deficit.

County employees and union workers are concerned how the plan and cuts will affect them. Dozens attended the commissioners meeting Wednesday afternoon to learn more.

Matthew Fiems works for Wayne County and says, "It's another, forgive me for saying it, crackpot idea from Robert Ficano."

Fiems is with AFSCME and says they've already agreed to plenty of concessions, and the proposed deficit elimination plan doesn't do them any favors.

"A five percent cut - it's six or seven percent more toward your retirement. It's another five six percent towards your healthcare. So, folks are looking at a 15 percent plus cut real wages," Fiems says.

Wayne County Commissioners have some serious questions about this proposal. Implementing a paycut across the board to level the playing field may sound good, but some say that's hardly fair.

"I'm more concerned about what this does for the employees who are making 20 [thousand], 25,000 dollars. They're barely getting along as it is," says Irma Clark-Coleman, a Wayne Co. Commissioner.

Many are concerned about the process after the county executive brought complicated numbers to the commissioners for approval when they haven't even sat down with the unions.

"If labor doesn't agree with it then it's all for naught. And, so, I was just wondering, why bring this complicated plan to us when you haven't had any conversations and gotten any feedback from labor?" asks Clark-Coleman.

But Ficano appears to want approval from the commissioners and the state before taking it to labor.

"Doesn't that sound like it's this way or no way at that point? I don't call that negotiations," says commissioner Diane Webb.

"We think the solution comes from not them writing a plan by themselves but bringing the stakeholders to the table - and explore the possibilities," says AFSCME president Albert Garrett.

Ficano says tough choices have to be made, or else.

"If we don't solve this issue, the last thing you want is to have somebody else make that decision for them," he says.

But workers say there's got to be a better way.

"We are not the problem. The regular workers that you see plowing your streets and picking up trash - we're not the problem. We know where the problem is, it's the leadership at the top. They've got to go," Fiems says.

Bottom line - part of this plan can't go anywhere without the unions agreeing to it. Commissioners say they want more information before voting.

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