State Workers: No More Cuts

By: Meaghan M. Norman Email
By: Meaghan M. Norman Email

The state could potentially have millions in its pocket if lawmakers can agree on a retirement package for state employees.

"It saves us $60 million --- it's estimated by getting incentives. It allows people who have 30 years and or 80 years experience plus age," said Sen. Ron Jelinek, who is on the appropriations committee.

But some say these years of experience that state workers have put in equals more than a punitive package and a kick out the door.

"Our members should be able to retire with dignity. We would be in favor of a higher multiplier and opening eligibility to more people," said Ray Holman the spokesman of UAW Local 6000 which represents about 17,000 state employees.

Right now what's on the table is a 3 percent salary contribution with a 1.6 multiplier and in this economy many say that's just not enough

"We have adult children moving back --- housing is not worth what it was three or four years ago," said Holman. "Not sure how many would retire and what the savings would be."

Since 2003 state employees have saved the state $700 million in concessions including unpaid days and a cut in health insurance.

"State employees I talked to are extremely tired of carrying the burden of the budget. It seems like such an easy target," said Ken Moore, the president of the Michigan State Employees Association.

Moore said the budget has been balanced on the backs of state employees for years and it's not something they're ready to accept

"I think it's time to look at different revenues. The state employees with 30 years of service they deserve a good pension," said Moore.

Moore and Holman both said the state should look at private contracts which they said add up to billions of dollars. Holman suggested the state take a 5 percent cut on the contracts instead of targeting state workers.

State employees say they've given enough and are not willing to go any further. But, if they're forced to, they say there could be consequences in November.

"We can put people on the ground to knock on doors and to educate people -- person to person -- we feel we do have a voice and this election is far from over," said Holman.

He didn't elaborate on what unions would do if their employees were forced to take a pay cut or forced in concessions that they don't want but he did say their voice would be heard.


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