Unions back off after pact with county settled, Convertino says
Detroit —Recall efforts against Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano began in earnest last week, but their chief organizer says union leaders who vowed to help have cooled on the campaign after winning a new contract.
Richard Convertino, a Plymouth lawyer and former federal prosecutor, said volunteers began collecting signatures Thursday, one day after a former Ficano top aide was accused of extortion — the first charges in an FBI investigation into accusations of pay-to-play and questionable payments to county officials.
Convertino said union leaders assured him workers would help gather 140,000 signatures to put the measure on the ballot. But now, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employee officials won’t return phone calls since Ficano gave them a contract that includes incentives not offered to other unions, Convertino said.
“Once the AFSCME contract was settled — much more favorably than Ficano originally proposed — a whole army of volunteers was taken right off the board,” said Convertino, who wouldn’t identify the local leaders.
“We knew it was an uphill battle. Each step of the way, there’s been an effort by Ficano to circumvent it.”
Four of eight AFSCME units ended a three-year, lawsuit-filled fight in December by agreeing to terms with the county. The three-year deal includes 10 percent pay cuts and a requirement that workers pay 20 percent of health care costs.
That’s the same deal other county unions got, but the AFSCME locals also received a 2 percent pay increase for dropping a lawsuit and another 2 percent increase in six months.