December 7, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Lansing, MI – In a move reminiscent of the way they pushed through a law banning the union shop in December 2012, Republican legislators in Michigan have introduced a raft of bills in their lame-duck session to cut retired public workers’ benefits.
A state Senate committee on Nov. 30 narrowly approved a measure that would end pensions for future teachers and other school employees, replacing them with a 401(k)-style plan. Meanwhile, a 13-bill package has been introduced in the House that would cut payments for retirees’ health care, including one that would ban unions from bargaining over benefits for retirees and another that would limit what some cities can pay to 80% of what their care actually costs. All but one of the sponsors of the House bills is in their final month in office due to term limits—which one, Rep. Earl Poleski, said was a significant reason the bills were being introduced now. “The good news is we’ve identified a problem,” said Detroit Police Officers Association President Mark Diaz, noting that many cities’ pensions were underfunded. But “trying to ‘correct’ a problem by employing a scorched-earth policy is not the solution.” Read more