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Detroit Retirees Protest Expected Pension Cuts

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(credit: Pat Sweeting/WWJ)

(credit: Pat Sweeting/WWJ)

DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit retirees and workers — many who worked decades for the same employer in order to enjoy hard-earned pensions — aren’t taking expected cuts without a fight.

A few dozen city retirees and supporters took part in a protest and rally, Friday, in front of the Spirit of Detroit.

Among them was former D-Dot worker Bernadine Buffington retired 10 years ago.

(credit: Pat Sweeting/WWJ)

(credit: Pat Sweeting/WWJ)

At that time, she thought she’d be OK. Now, she doesn’t want to think about what’s going to happen if her retiree benefits are slashed due to Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy.

“If I gotta’ go back to work — hopefully, I won’t — but, if I hafta’ do it, I’ll do it,” said Huffington, who’d hoped to enjoy retirement by traveling.

Has she been looking for work?

“Not the want-ads so much because I have a CDL [commercial drivers license] and I know I could always still drive a bus, but that wasn’t what I wanted for my future,” Buffington said. “I drove a bus 30 years in this city, I don’t think I should have to go back to work now.”

Retiree David Soul said what’s happening with employee pensions and benefits in Detroit could happen in any other municipality or county in Michigan.

“This is definitely a test case,” Soul said. “If they get away with taking the pensions here … pensions are protected by state constitutions, but a federal judge says he’ll make the decision.

“This money, they claim it’s unsecured — but we secured it with 20, 30 years of our labor,” he said.

Gov. Rick Snyder approved Detroit’s Chapter 9 filing last week, saying it was the only viable option for a city crushed under an estimated $18 billion in long-term debt.

Snyder says he cares about Detroit retirees, but it’s “a difficult situation.” He said city workers will get a place at the table during bankruptcy proceedings so their voices can be heard.

Get complete coverage of Detroit’s bankruptcy HERE.

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