City officials say they had no choice, the Detroit Free Press reported. The bonuses, most of them $1,300, were in a contract agreed on before the Detroit began its cutbacks.
The largest union representing city workers, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25, is angry.
"They're just treating people any kind of way, and they're supposed to like it," Ed McNeil, a special assistant to the union's president, said Friday. "It's just crazy. There's a lot of frustration for the workers. They are really ticked off. People have just had it."
Even Mayor Dave Bing has agreed to give up 10 percent of his salary.
Mark Diaz, president of the Detroit Police Officers Association, agrees the city had to pay the bonuses.
Members of his group had their pay cut last summer.
"As envious as I truly am of their contract, that language is in their contract," he said. "I know what it feels like to not have our contract honored."