Detroit plan takes shape E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

Here’s where things stand currently in Detroit as far as the restructuring plan and the wages and benefits of Detroit police officers- it’s a slow slog. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes has approved the city’s restructuring plans. The city said the Detroit Police Lieutenants and Sergeants Association and the Detroit Police Command Officers Association have both agreed to five-year contracts involving wages, pensions and health care benefits. No details on those agreements have been made public. Now documents laying out Detroit’s restructuring plan can be mailed out to 170,000 creditors who will then vote the plan up or down. But here’s the catch.

A majority of voters, representing two-thirds of the debt in each class of creditors, must vote “yes” for the court to certify approval.

But if they vote no, Rhodes can still approve the restructuring plan if he decides it’s in their best interest- a municipal take on the Electoral College if you will.

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s sweeping plan will allegedly reduce the city’s $18 billion in debt and liabilities and reinvest $1.4 billion over 10 years in services.

The Detroit Police Officers Association and the Detroit Fire Fighters Association have not agreed to any deal.

The city says if they privatize enough services, who knows? Maybe they’ll be able to restore some pension money.

Detroit officials say if they sell the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to a private company within seven years, 50% of the proceeds from the deal could be used to help restore pension cuts.

But that’s just one of the things that’s still up in the air.

According to USA Today, a person familiar with negotiations who wasn’t authorized to discuss them publicly told the Free Press that disagreements with the Detroit Police Officers Association and the Detroit Fire Fighters association won’t be resolved easily.

The DPOA and the city are still battling over a proposed end to the city’s 20-and-out retirement policy that allowed officers to retire with 20 years of service regardless of age. The city had sought to replace it with a policy requiring police officers to work to age 55 with 25 years of service.

And city officials and the DPOA are still negotiating how much pay levels should be restored. Officers and most city employees have endured pay freezes and cuts in the last several years.

DPOA President Mark Diaz says it amounts to a significant pay decrease.

Diaz said details of the city’s new pension plan for cops and firefighters show that cops and firefighters hired before July 1 will contribute 6% of their pay toward their pension while those hired after July 1 will contribute 8%.

Those mandatory contributions combined with previous pay cut result in an overall decrease of 3.5% in wages for city police officers.

The city is also pushing a proposal that would eliminate future health care coverage for any member of the Detroit Police and Fire System who retires in the next five years, Diaz said.

Diaz says it’s becoming increasingly likely that contract terms will simply be imposed on his members since the other public safety unions have already reached agreements with the city.

“At this point, it looks like the DPOA and fire fighters face a cram down,” Diaz said.

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