Detroit unions and a Michigan state judge are fighting back against Detroit ’emergency manager’ Kevyn Orr’s filings Thursday to force the city into bankruptcy proceedings, a move that is likely to decimate pensions and benefits that city workers and retirees have already earned.
The bankruptcy—driven forward by Orr and backed by Republican Governor Snyder—is now under debate in court hearings that kicked off Monday morning, after a Michigan state judge ruled Friday that the bankruptcy proceedings are unconstitutional, because they steamroll Michigan state laws that guarantee pensions.
The Michigan attorney general was quick to hit back, insisting that chapter 9 bankruptcy proceedings trump state law.
“These retirees worked hard and played by the rules. The average general city employee pension is less than $18,000 per year, attacking these pensions is not only unfair, it is illegal.”
As legal battles play out in the courts, union members are taking their outrage to the streets, calling for a July 25 rally to defend benefits and pensions for the city’s 21,000 retirees and 9,000 public workers.
The bankruptcy proceedings allow city officials to eradicate union contracts and chop benefits and pensions to workers and retirees, to close what is estimated to be a $3.5 billion shortfall in the pension budget. While officials are required to ‘renegotiate’ their debts to their lenders, union members say there have been no negotiations of any kind.
Orr has publicly signaled that pensioners will be the first on the chopping block, declaring, “Make no mistake about it, there have to be concessions.”
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