More Than Meets The Eye - Part 1

A Discourse on Social Action & Political Oppression in Detroit

by David Rambeau

On the surface it seemed like just another demonstration at city hall, the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center in downtown Detroit. Larger than most with perhaps 1,000 or more people milling around, some bewildered, others chatting socially, a few handing out flyers, most listening to or making speeches, all the whatnot you've seen at most demonstrations.

This one, however, had some special ingredients in addition to its size. It had several different unions participating; they provided resources: signs, flyers, and vans to pick up and deliver materials and protesters; they had follow-up rallies already scheduled.

They also had a penetrating, personal issue that wasn't going away: the layoff already of several hundred city workers and the promised layoff of hundreds if not thousands more by Detroit's mayor, David Bing. The bus drivers union, one of the prime organizers, has a community constituency of 150,000 daily bus-riders who will be adversely affected by the cutback of Saturday and the elimination of Sunday service. Moreover, about 10,500 city workers are organized and undergoing, as well as being threatened by, layoffs.

And just like the elimination of plants, workers, jobs, health care and a future in the local auto industry that GM and Chrysler workers have experienced, half of all city workers could be laid off in a community that even now suffers from at least a 30% unemployment and underemployment rate. That extant and impending reality will tend to focus one's attention.

Fortuitously and fortunately, the unions and the protesters have a wild card that changes the odds in the struggle: a city-wide election of the mayor and the entire city council is coming up Tuesday, November 3. Even if they can't stop layoffs for the next 11 weeks, they can provoke a power shift at city hall and extract a measure of revenge by "laying off Bing" and electing a mayor and city council responsive to their interests and needs. What we have here is the possibility of a Detroit version of the Paris Commune.

More Than Meets The Eye - Part 1 by David Rambeau

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

TimBookTu Logo

Return to the Table of Contents | Return to Main Page