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By April 12, 2014 Read More →

Pensions could be cut by 40%

The Detroit POA and other city public safety unions have participated in hundreds of protests and demonstrations to protest proposed cuts to their pensions that could be as high as 40%.

The Detroit POA and other city public safety unions have participated in hundreds of protests and demonstrations to protest proposed cuts to their pensions that could be as high as 40%.

Together Detroit Public Safety Unions call plan “punitive, unfair, and painful.”

The Detroit Police Officers Association, the Detroit Fire Fighters Association, the Detroit Police Lieutenants and Sergeants Association, and the Detroit Police Command Officers Association have formed an alliance to protect their 3,500 members. Together they issued this joint statement. This is important to read. Your city or town could be next:

The State’s current Plan of Adjustment (POA) – which includes the punitive ultimatum that we either approve the POA or suffer even more painful and “crammed-down” wage, pension and health care cuts – is neither fair nor equitable.

Since July 2013, when the State-appointed EM filed for bankruptcy protection, we have come in to mediation in good faith.  With modest and reasonable expectations, we’ve sought to address and balance the City’s financial concerns and the interest of our membership.

We made these efforts under difficult circumstances: while our wages were cut by over 10%, our health care dramatically reduced at great expense to us, and the EM trashed our lawfully negotiated collective bargaining agreements.

Time and again, our efforts to help our City and our membership were met by the State who moved at its own pace and engaged in “double-speak”.  The State has retreated from its promises and remains unconcerned with the severe burden imposed by the reductions that it demands.

Now, we’re at the 11th hour.  And, the State still demands staggering reductions in our vested pension benefits.

Despite inaccurate media accounts, the State actually seeks a 40% pension cut for active Police and Fire, which equals an 18% cut of COLA, 8% reduction by virtue of the “hard freeze” of the retirement system, and a 14% cut of monthly pension checks. If we were to agree, the result would be a 32% pension cut.

These cuts include the abolishment of all COLA, which is an earned and indispensable pension benefit because we are not eligible for Social Security benefits.

THINK FOR A MOMENT WHAT THIS ACTUALLY MEANS:  A 40% pension cut is nearly half of an individual’s vested benefit, and we have yet to factor-in the value of the increased retiree health care costs.

Going forward, the State intends to impose severe employment terms under the veil of Public Act 436.  Given this right to “cram-down” under both bankruptcy law and the absolute authority of PA 436, the State’s inflexible, “no-mercy” approach does not promote an environment that is conducive to negotiation.

The Governor chose this grizzly business of bankruptcy, contrary to his oath to honor the State constitution, which requires him to protect the vested accrued pension benefits, as echoed by the opinion of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. The elevation of the City’s art above our hard-earned pensions and health care is unfair, offensive and elitist.

We appreciate the City’s art collection. But, stated bluntly, art is a luxury.  It’s not an essential, like food and health care.

As public safety providers in one of the nation’s most demanding environments, we cannot ignore the difference between the necessities of life and luxuries.  More importantly, we cannot finance the City’s recovery on the backs of those who have given and continue to risk their lives for the city. As it currently stands, the State has taken health care away from the spouses and dependents of fallen public safety heroes, as well as those that have been maimed, injured and disabled in the line-of-duty. This is a disgrace!

Frankly, we dread the prospect of a “cram-down,” whether under bankruptcy or PA 436.  But we bravely oppose it on behalf of our members, and the citizens of the city of Detroit, who deserve better.

Using extortion to force us to accept jaw-dropping pension, health care and wage cuts will NOT put the City on a right path.

The coalition of Public Safety employees stands ready and willing to negotiate a fair and equitable resolution.

Mark Diaz
Detroit Police Officers Association

Steve Dolunt
Detroit Police Command Officers Association

Jeff Pegg
Detroit Firefighters Association

Mark Young
Detroit Police Lieutenants and Sergeants Assoc.

Posted in: Pay Wars

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