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Detroit union leaders: "Bankruptcy was the strategy all along"

Union leaders say Detroit is in bankruptcy court because “that was the strategy all along.”

They accuse Governor Snyder and Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr of “sham” negotiations, saying they were never able to actually sit down and bargain with Orr before he filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy last week.

“We were disheartened by the fact that we were told negotiations were going to take place, that never took place,” says Al Garrett, President of AFSCME Council 25.”Instead, they ran to a bankruptcy court.”

Garrett says newly released e-mails between state officials and Orr show they were talking bankruptcy well before Orr’s appointment.

UAW President Bob King says the GM and Chrysler bankruptcies provided good templates for how people can work cooperatively to manage a financial crisis.

“But rather than going that path, this Governor has chosen the path of confrontation, the path of exclusion," King says.

Union leaders say they expect to challenge the bankruptcy filing, because they maintain Orr didn’t bargain in good faith.

Unions are also supporting several lawsuits suing Snyder and Orr on behalf of Detroit retirees. They maintain that Detroit can’t file for bankruptcy because Michigan’s state constitution protects public pensions, which Orr has proposed cutting.

A federal judge has set ahearing on the issue for Wednesday.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.