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Inside: Hartland, Brighton pinned in wrestling

Seasons come to an end in Michigan semifinals — Sports, 1B

Volume 166 Number 49

Sunday, February 27, 2011 $1.25


Bill aims to revamp police, fire bargaining

Supporters say third-party arbitrators
could bankrupt local municipalities
By Christopher Behnan The law was created as an alternative to
DAILY PRESS & ARGUS INSIDE strikes by unionized fire and police per-
• Union members rallied Satur- sonnel. If the bill becomes law, striking
Local governments could conceivably day in Lansing to show support for would still be illegal under Michigan’s
go bankrupt if Michigan’s practice of bargaining rights of public em- Public Employment Relations Act, state
allowing third-party arbitrators to decide officials said.
police and fire compensation continues, ployees in Wisconsin. See page 5A. The bill has drawn protest by police
local officials and first responders said. and fire personnel in Lansing as the
House Bill 4205, introduced this third-party arbitration for police and fire debate of public employee compensation File photo by DALE G. YOUNG/ASSOCIATED PRESS
month, calls for the repeal of Public Act departments when contract agreements Firefighters protest Wednesday outside the entrance to the House Office
312, a law passed in 1969 that requires can’t be met. Continued on page 5 Building in Lansing to challenge efforts to take away binding arbitration.


The recession has forced companies across the nation

to thin work forces while installing automation
Sunset of grant
advancements to increase productivity for clients.
could spell big
Technology gains,
cuts at OLHSA
employment losses A computer diagram at Ogihara America Corp.
exhibits an auto part’s actual dimensions as com-
pared to the design specifications of the part. By Sarah K. Norris
• Oakland Livingston Hu-
The Oakland Livingston Human man Service Agency: www.
Service Agency is facing a 50 per-
cent reduction in its funding, elim-
ination of jobs and programs, and
reduction of services for the needy “The House Republicans put forth
due to federal budget cuts. a bill that would make a 50 per-
According to OLHSA Director cent cut to the current-year fund-
Erica Karfonta, the Community ing of that continuing resolution.”
Services Block Grant that now Hundreds of other community
funds the program is set to expire programs nationwide would be
Friday as part of the continuing res- facing the same reduction in fund-
olution that funds the community ing, should the U.S. Senate pass
grants at the 2009 level, allocating the House resolution.
$1.3 million to OLHSA. “At this point, we have to plan
“Congress has to decide to con- for the worst,” Karfonta said.
tinue to fund us at that level or at
a different level,” Karfonta said. Continued on page 4



Beyond a filtered window to protect human eyes, Ogihara America Corp. utilizes a state-of-the-art laser welder,
which saves immensely on the power required for each weld and keeps the company competitive even though
it had to lay off workers. The Howell metal-stamping plant has nearly half the workers it did before the recession. Photo by JASON CARMEL DAVIS/DAILY PRESS & ARGUS
Firefighters from four departments battled a Friday after-
State-of-the-art equipment helps Howell-based ABOUT THIS SERIES noon blaze that destroyed an estimated 2,867-square-foot
barn on Graves Road, off M-36, in Unadilla Township.
Ogihara America do more with less employees • Last month, the Livingston County

By Sarah K. Norris
ployment while increasing productivity
through automation. Plus, it’s a necessity for
Daily Press & Argus began an in-depth
look at unemployment issues locally
and across the nation.
Blaze destroys barn
surviving these tough economic times.
Before the recession hit, Ogihara America
Corp., the Howell-based metal-stamping
plant, employed close to 600 people. Now,
Automotive clients represent almost 100 per-
cent of Ogihara’s customers, and the Detroit
automakers make up the bulk of those orders.
• Each Sunday through March, we’ll
publish stories examining aspects of the
problems of joblessness in the area.
in Unadilla Township
thanks to new technology, automation and Ford Motor Co. is Ogihara’s biggest customer. • E-mail story ideas for the ongoing By Lisa Roose-Church “We could see the smoke about
more efficient processes, the plant employs a So when the auto industry began to slow down joblessness series to lcp-metro@gan- DAILY PRESS & ARGUS three miles away,” he said. “The
little more than half that number. and close plants across southeastern Michigan, barn is attached by the roof, and
It serves as a case study for what has been employment at Ogihara reflected that. or mail ideas to 323 E. Grand A quick response from fire- we saved the house.”
happening in industry during the economic col- River Ave., Howell, MI 48843. fighters helped contain a fire that While the barn was destroyed,
lapse — companies have been thinning em- Continued on page 5 destroyed a barn Friday on Graves the home only sustained smoke
Road in Unadilla Township. damage. Damage estimates were
Chief Mark Schroeder of the not immediately available.

Inside: Online:
Unadilla Township Fire Department The homeowner, Kim Moeckle,
said the barn in the 1500 block of said he had just returned from
Graves Road, off M-36 and near Jackson at around 3:30 p.m. when
Doyle Road, was about 60 percent he discovered the blaze.
Local movie experts offer their Visit to 70 percent engulfed in flames “It’s gone,” he said as he watched
when the first wave of firefighters the fire. “My tractor and truck were
views on some of the nominees to see a photos from Saturday’s arrived at the residence. The barn in there (and) all my tools.”
for best picture in tonight’s Howell showings of the cult film was attached to the home via a
Oscars. See Lifestyle, page 1C. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” walkway roof. Continued on page 4

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Lottery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2A Travel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6C
Sunday, February 27, 2011-DAILY PRESS & ARGUS 5A


Bargaining for first responders

would change under proposal
Continued from page 1 vices. I think the last thing you
want is your police department, RALLY SUPPORTS
continues to rage in Michigan and your fire department going on WISCONSIN WORKERS
simultaneously in Wisconsin. strike,” Ruf said.
Binding arbitration falls within Yet he agreed that local govern- LANSING (AP) — Members
the debate on collective bargaining ments can be put in the position of and supporters of public em-
in the public sector, a process that paying more than they can afford. ployee unions in Michigan
allows public employee unions to Hamburg Township Supervisor gathered Saturday at the state
negotiate wages and benefits with Pat Hohl said repealing Public Act Capitol as part of a nation-
either the state or local units of 312 would leave first responders
government. and local officials without a mech- wide effort to show support
Howell Police Chief George anism for reaching a solution if for unionized public workers
Basar testified on the bill last negotiations hit a roadblock. in Wisconsin.
week in Lansing on behalf of the Hohl said Hamburg Township The Michigan rally drew
Michigan Association of Chiefs has been fortunate with its police more than 1,000 protesters,
of Police. department, which is unionized,
Basar told lawmakers binding because personnel have agreed to part of what organizers called
arbitration should be revamped pay cuts and benefits concessions Save the American Dream ral-
first and foremost to address a as the township’s budget has con- lies planned in all 50 states.
government’s ability to pay. tinued to tighten. The effort was supported, or-
“If the community doesn’t have Arbitration isn’t cheap, he ganized or endorsed by such Photo by GILLIS BENEDICT/DAILY PRESS & ARGUS
the ability to pay, then that should added, often totaling into the tens An OptiCell device used by Ogihara America Corp. can measure a manufactured part’s
be the end of the process right of thousands of dollars from start groups as and
dimensions optically, showing whether it meets required tolerances on a monitor.
then and there,” Basar said. to finish. Hamburg Township has a the Service Employees Inter-
He also suggested standards be
developed for how “comparables”
are made — decisions are partial-
grievance-avoidance committee to
avoid the costly process, Hohl said.
“You’re still just singing your
national Union.
Rallies have been ongoing
at the Wisconsin state Capitol
Business stays competitive with
ly based by comparing compensa- solo to a human being who’s going
tion to other departments — and
for how arbitrators are selected.
Simply scrapping the entire law
to make a decision for you. That’s
a lot to lay on the line,” he said.
“It behooves everybody to sit
for 12 straight days in re-
sponse to a Republican bill
that would strip most public
advanced productivity methods
will forgo an opportunity to bring down,” he added. workers of almost all their Continued from page 1 Ogihara has also automated 2010, based on historic models.
local officials and first responders Howell City Manager Shea collective-bargaining rights. some of its quality-control and Instead, the jobless rate hovered
together to reform the system, Ba- Charles said there are several “With our close link to the auto product-review processes, using a around 9.4 percent.
sar added. “horror stories” of local govern- In Lansing, protesters said industry, our employment fluctu- white-light optical system that Economists predict U.S. em-
“People with open minds and rea- ments that have been nearly wiped what’s going on in Wisconsin ates with that industry,” said checks the slope and size of the ployers will add about 2.4 million
sonable positions need to sit down out by arbitration awards. Charles is part of a broader effort to Patrick Casady, executive manag- products, ensuring the items meet jobs this year.
and work through the process. said many of those stories were weaken unions. er of human resources. specifications. However, many believe the na-
Times have changed,” he said. spurred by the fact that arbitrators “I think there’s a concerted Much has changed at Ogihara Using these new technologies tion will not recover the 8.3 mil-
Basar said third-party arbitra- aren’t required to take a communi- since the beginning of the reces- has allowed the company to meet lion jobs lost in the recession until
tors don’t understand the fiscal ty’s fiscal condition into account. effort across the whole country sion, beyond the decrease in em- demands from customers and 2014, in part because businesses
ramifications of awards because State. Rep. Bill Rogers, R- to destroy unions,” said Dam- ployment. New ownership and keep more jobs. continue to benefits from efficien-
they have never managed munici- Genoa Township, said he’s “not a ian Woods, 34, a college stu- improvements in technology have “We’re able to actually expand cies achieved in the downturn.
pal finances or been in the shoes fan” of the binding-arbitration dent from Lansing. “I think created a different operations pic- our production without expanding These more-efficient businesses
of first responders. law, but would prefer a compro- there has been for a long time. ture for the plant. our work force,” Gorelick said. are not always a bad thing. They
State Rep. Joe Haveman, R- mise on the existing rules. Socrates Souyias, marketing The company has needed to allow companies to pass on savings
Holland, the bill’s sponsor, isn’t Rogers said he hasn’t decided Unfortunately, I think it’s proba- manager for Ogihara, said the com- increase production in the past 12 to employees through higher pay or
interested in debate on updating the whether to vote for Haveman’s bill bly a lot more realistic to hap- pany’s implication of laser-welding months, as orders rose from a low to customers through lower prices,
arbitration law, however, said Dale if it comes to the House floor. pen when we’re in an economic technology has helped greatly with point in February 2010. Ogihara according to a study by McKinsey
Hull, Haveman’s chief of staff. “My whole focus hinges on downturn. People feel pinched, productivity at the plants. saw a jump in automotive orders in & Co. Either outcome encourages
Hull said binding arbitration strengthening the language of and they want to blame it on “We’re considered leaders of September, and has seen a steady spending and job growth.
allows “unappointed, nonelected (the) ability to pay. It’s just not the implementation of laser weld- and gradual increase ever since. As Ogihara moves forward, it
bureaucrats” to determine the fate effective,” he said. someone. So they’ll blame it on ing in the automotive industry,” he Ogihara’s experience with im- plans to continue running an effi-
of those involved without facing “It has caused a lot of problems state workers, teachers, fire- said. proved productivity reflects what cient company and expanding its
any consequences. because the units, when it comes fighters, cops.” The laser welding has many ad- is happening with productivity on services to meet the needs of a
“These arbitrators are not be- to mediation and things like that, I Republican Gov. Rick Sny- vantages over conventional weld- a national level in the recession. new economy.
holden to any elected officials at feel like they’re flipping a coin,” der has worked to avoid a ing, namely that it consumes few- Productivity, the economy’s “We’re seeing a lot of interest in
all, and it should be the local el- Rogers added. er resources. In addition to using output per labor hour, has risen the alternative-energy and electric-
ected officials that set the budget- Last week, Gov. Rick Snyder Wisconsin-style showdown in 94 percent less electricity, the more in this recession than previ- vehicle markets,” Gorelick said.
ary priorities,” he said. said he’s not interested in bills Michigan. Many proposals in method does not use the wires, gas, ous ones, jumping 3.5 percent in “We’re looking to expand in elec-
“To Joe, that really bothers him. that would repeal binding arbitra- Snyder’s state budget plan are welding caps or welding guns that 2009 and 3.6 percent last year. tric vehicles and diversify our
He feels very strongly that that is tion for police and firefighter unpopular with public em- more traditional methods would. Only 2001’s recession saw greater products, and we’re investing more
undemocratic,” Hull added. unions. He stopped short of say- ployee unions, but he repeat- “It’s much faster and stronger,” increases. … in research and development.”
Arbitration has a proven history ing he would veto those bills, but said Scott Gorelick, Ogihara’s These increases in productivity Gannett News Service reporter
in Michigan of forcing parties to said “those are not issues that I edly has said changes he executive manager of business de- could be responsible for slow hir- Paul Davidson contributed to this
discuss difficult and complicated perceive as the highest priority we wants — including state velopment. “That translates into a ing. According to Wells Fargo, the story
wage and benefit issues, said should be addressing for the state. employee concessions — will different product design, which average 3 percent growth over the Contact Daily Press & Argus
Brighton Area Fire Department I would rather work constructive- be collectively bargained. means less materials used and less past six quarters in the United reporter Sarah K. Norris at (517)
Lt. Curt Ruf. The Brighton de- ly with labor and management on Still, public employee union product weight, which leads to States should have cut unemploy- 552-2847 or at sknorris@gan-
partment recently canceled its addressing issues of how we build fuel savings.” ment to 8.8 percent by the end of
union membership after deciding for the future,” he said. members said their collective-
instead to negotiate on its own. State Rep. Cindy Denby, R- bargaining rights are under
While officials said repeal of Handy Township, didn’t return a attack through Republican-
the law wouldn’t allow police and call for this story. sponsored bills pending in the
fire personnel to strike, Ruf said Gannett News Service con- Michigan Legislature.
the spirit of the law would be
tributed to this report.
Contact Daily Press & Argus Other protesters were con- Get a Free 5Kw Home
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