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No More ’13th Check’ For Detroit Retirees

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DETROIT (WWJ) – City of Detroit retirees will no longer receive an end-of-the-year bonus — the so-called “13th check.”

Detroit City Council voted 6-to-3 on Tuesday to end the practice, saying keeping the money in the pension funds will help the city in the long run.

The vote was taken following angry outcries from union leadership and retirees like Diane Bukowski, who said the check accounts for the rising cost of living.

“This is a total attack on the unions, on city workers, retirees — many of them who only get like $300 a month,” said Bukowski. “All I can say is what the Wall Street protesters have been saying … shame on you! Shame on you.”

AFSCME Local 25 President Al Garret lambasted Council Members at Tuesday’s hearing.

“Right now we’re in crisis, and a pivotal group on that crisis is the unions.  They need to come to the table,” said Garret. “And, what do you do? You put a bonehead play on the table that’s having a chilling effect on the unions coming to the table.”

Council President Pro tem Gary Brown who, as a retired police officer, has received the check, voted with the majority to keep that extra cash in the pension system.

“It will allow the city to benefit in the good years and bank that money, save it, let it accrue and eventually cause the city to have to make a smaller payment,” said Brown. “So, it’s a good thing in the long run. It won’t do very much for cash flow issues we’re dealing with right now.”

Council members Brenda Jones, Jo Ann Watson and Kwame Kenyatta voted against the ordinance.

The 6-to-3 vote means the ordinance will go into immediate effect.

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