“Are we really discussing whether elderly people who depend on their pensions for food, shelter and medicine, who have few, if any, opportunities to earn money otherwise, ought to make do with less?”
—Detroit Free Press editorial, Aug. 1, 2013
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Detroit is the largest city to file for bankruptcy in American history. But it is not the only city in economic crisis, and what happens there matters—it matters to AFSCME members and all workers and retirees across the country.
That’s why we launched a national campaign to support our AFSCME sisters and brothers in Detroit called: “Stand with Detroit!” We need you to show your support and go to www.StandwithDetroit.orgright now and sign our petition.
There is no argument that Detroit is in fiscal distress. The question on the table is who pays? Will it be the city workers who labor each day to keep the city running and who already took huge reductions in pay and benefits? Will city worker and retiree pension benefits—benefits that were already earned—be slashed? Or will the bond insurers and Wall Street types who treated the city like an ATM for years be required to face the consequences of their actions?
The collapse of the city’s industry during the past 40 years is not the fault of the modestly paid public service workers. Detroit’s workers and retirees worked in good faith to reach an equitable solution and avoid bankruptcy in the first place. The non-uniformed workers had their future pension benefits reduced by approximately 40 percent last year. Now, the governor’s hand-picked emergency financial manager wants to reduce the average $19,000 yearly pension benefit that was already earned. In addition, workers took a 10 percent pay cut during the past fiscal year.
Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Snyder slashed the city’s share of state revenues by $160 million.
The Detroit Free Press described it well: “A financially solvent city that is paid for at the expense of workers and retirees is an equation that doesn’t balance—in Detroit or anywhere.”
Will you stand with Jeanette Fitts, who retired after 35 years—working in accounting for the city of Detroit—and fears a cut to her pension or medical coverage will be devastating?Jeannette pays more than $100 a month for a half-dozen medications, and much of what remains from her pension payments goes toward her housing and other necessities.
“If they cut it, I’m not going to be able to pay my rent. I’m not going to have money. I’m going to be homeless. I’m going to be living out of my car, I guess.”
Yet, while workers and retirees wonder how they will put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads, Governor Snyder recently announced $444 million in taxpayer money to build a new hockey arena for the Detroit Red Wings—money that would otherwise have gone to Detroit’s public schools or other essential services.
AFSCME will not stand by and let Detroit, or any American city, die. We will not let our sisters and brothers become pawns to corporate greed. President Obama, Congress, and the leadership of Michigan must stand with us, and with the people of Detroit.
Please join us by going to www.StandWithDetroit.org and signing our petition.
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
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