While city, state and federal lawyers and bureaucrats endlessly debate the future of Detroit, one group of hard working citizens is likely to feel the pain the most. The city’s municipal workers have had their futures put on the line in the rush to declare bankruptcy.
Detroit’s first responders served with honor through the worst of times, but now politicians are trying to circumvent Michigan law that requires them to pay the pensions these workers earned during some of the city’s darkest days. They’re trying to ignore the constitution in order to save a few dollars.
By declaring bankruptcy in federal court, the city can force retired workers to give back money they earned years ago. Municipal workers gave their best to Detroit, but now state and local politicians want to use the federal government to take even more.
The Michigan constitution is clear that pension payments are a contractual obligation of the state. We can’t allow politicians to shirk their responsibilities now when Detroit’s retirees need them most.
Michigan must uphold its constitutional obligations and not use the federal courts to avoid paying pensions owed to workers who dedicated their lives to helping the city and serving its residents.
We cannot allow the courts to break the promise Detroit made to its pensioners and deny our friends, family members and neighbors of their ability to retire with dignity and pride.
I am writing to demand that the state protect Detroit’s municipal workers and first responders. These hardworking individuals stood by the city and delivered outstanding service in the face of unbelievable pressure and adversity. To abandon them now would be shameful.
While the city obviously needs to do something to solve its woes, allowing Detroit to skirt the Michigan constitution in federal court is unacceptable.
Municipal workers’ pensions were part of the compensation they are due as employees. By slashing their pensions, the state is effectively reaching into workers’ pockets to take some of the money they earned years ago.
I demand a better solution.
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