Detroit city workers worried about pension

April 5, 2013 at 4:28 PM
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DETROIT, April 5 (UPI) -- Retired city workers in Detroit are worried that Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr will cut pension benefits and healthcare.

A cut to pension benefits would affect about 30,000 current and former Detroit city workers, The Detroit News reported.

"It's a concern," said Reggie Amos, who retired from the Detroit Fire Department in 2009. "That's why I keep my thumb on the pulse of Detroit."

Orr is required to submit a preliminary restructuring plan to city officials by mid-May. He is considering several plans, one including changing labor agreements and restructuring the city's debt. That would involve pension and retiree healthcare obligations, one of the biggest bills the city pays.

"An emergency manager is going to have to find savings wherever he can find them," said Douglas Bernstein, a Bloomfield Hills attorney and expert on municipal bankruptcy.

However, changing the city's pension plan would require a ruling by a bankruptcy judge, which may be overruled by the state constitution.

"In law, nothing is a sure thing," Bernstein said. "We're setting up a showdown over what takes precedence -- a bankruptcy judge or a state's constitution."

Amos said regardless of whether pensions are changed, current city workers are already being hurt the most by city's budget changes.

"They're the ones who are really going to take the hit," Amos said.

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