This would likely devastate Detroit’s thousands of retirees living on a fixed income, in a city already beset by poverty.

“There is too much at stake to play political games with the hard earned retirement security of Detroit’s public workers,” declared Detroit AFSCME Local 207 President Lee Saunders in a statement Friday. “These retirees worked hard and played by the rules. The average general city employee pension is less than $18,000 per year, attacking these pensions is not only unfair, it is illegal.”

Despite a Michigan-wide referendum last November aimed at preventing ’emergency managers’ from being granted dictatorial powers, state legislatures pushed through a “right to work” law in December and allowed Snyder to appoint Orr to financially ‘restructure’ the city.

Since his appointment in March, Orr has enthusiastically pushed forward privatization measures and gutted the city’s meager public goods, including mass transportation, schools, and garbage collection.

Critics charge that the near ‘absolute’ powers granted to Kevyn Orr constitute a Republican state takeover of Detroit, in a move that disenfranchises voters in a city where 80% of residents are black.

Labor Notes reports that workers are looking nervously to a Rhode Island law that, when municipalities declare bankruptcy, big bank lenders must be paid back before pensioners.

As John Nichols points out in The Nation, if Detroit were a bank instead of a city of 700,000 people, it would have probably been bailed out by now.


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