Source: The Detroit News – City retirees speak out on impact of pension cuts
Retired city workers with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees were called to action Saturday to rally to save their pensions.
“There was an agreement that if we paid into a system for 30 years, when you retired, you’d have some money there for you,” said Rose Roots, an officer of an AFSCME subchapter for retirees. “We’re not asking the city for a gift. We have performed our duties and we are looking for the city to stand up for its part of the agreement.”
About 100 union members and retirees joined at the press conference Saturday at the AFSCME Council 25 in Detroit to share their stories and express their concerns.
“We always gave concessions to the city of Detroit,” said Roger Rice, a retiree who spent 38 years as an auto mechanic on the city’s garbage trucks. “Now we need them to give us a concession and not attack our health and retiree benefits.”
Detroit retirees and their pensions are at the center of the city’s municipal bankruptcy case.
There are about 23,500 retirees with vested pension benefits, who are being targeted for cuts during the bankruptcy case, many who do not have union representation.
Two Detroit pension funds already have argued Gov. Rick Snyder was prohibited from authorizing the bankruptcy case because it could lead to cuts in constitutionally protected pension benefits.
“I’ve been laid off, I’ve been cut to part time, but I’ve never argued,” said retiree Donald Smith, who held a number of jobs with the city during his 30 years of work. “We’re not asking you to do us any favors, just give us what we put in.”
AFSCME Council 25 President Al Garrett called on retirees to make their voices heard.
“You can fully expect seeing us in front of the courthouse, seeing us in from the of the governor’s house and the attorney general’s house,” said Garrett. “we expect the state of Michigan to honor its Constitution.”