Hundreds of workers are about to be flushed from the ranks of the metro area's regional water utility, The Detroit News reports.
The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department plans to shed 40 percent of its staff — about 700 jobs — over the next several months, The Detroit News has learned.
This week, 600 nonunion workers began receiving letters informing them that their jobs have been reclassified and inviting them to apply for new positions within 30 days. Unions will be briefed Friday on the downsizing that is expected to reduce the 1,700-member department to about 1,000 jobs by year’s end.
The plan has been in the works since 2012 and could save upwards of $20 million a year, said a source with first-hand knowledge. . . .
Union officials said the plan puts the system at risk.
Reporters Joel Kurth and Steve Pardo put the development in context:
It’s being rolled out amid talks with suburban officials to form a regional authority to run the department in exchange for annual lease payments. The department serves 4 million customers and is viewed as one of Detroit’s best assets amid bankruptcy proceedings over the city’s $18 billion in long-term debt.
A goal of the staff shrinkage is to improve the public utility's bond rating, making it less costly to borrow for improvements, according to the paper's unnamed informant.
The reorganization plan calls for many of the new jobs to pay better than current ones, but include fewer benefits, the source said.
Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr knows about the plan, his spokesman tells The News, but can’t comment amid “ongoing discussions with the counties regarding the future of the DWSD.”