By Kris Hamel
Detroit, March 16 — The last day to file objections to the city of Detroit’s austerity “Plan of Adjustment” in its bankruptcy case is April 1. Organizers with the Moratorium NOW! Coalition and Stop Theft of Our Pensions Committee are holding a meeting March 17 to help city residents, workers, retirees and other concerned people fill out the necessary legal paperwork to get their objections filed with the bankruptcy court.
Activists are exhorting community members to also come out April 1 and “file their objections in the street” at a protest starting at 10 a.m. outside the federal courthouse at 231 W. Lafayette St. The demonstration opposes the proposed 34 percent pension cuts, wage and benefit cuts, and the giveaway of city assets to pay off the banks. The Chapter 9 bankruptcy of the city of Detroit is the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
A Moratorium NOW! statement describes the scenario facing Detroiters and why the Plan of Adjustment must be opposed:
“Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s ‘Plan of Adjustment’ will loot the pension funds to pay off the bankers. Ninety percent of the bank debt owed by the City will be paid 100 percent. Only a small percentage of lenders will take a hit. Meanwhile Orr wants to give $85 million to Bank of America and United Bank of Switzerland as a reward for illegal bond swaps — these banks have already stolen over $300 million from us through these swaps over the past six years.”
‘Death sentence’ for retirees
“Fight back or starve! That is the choice for over 20,000 retirees. Health care has been eliminated for those under 65. Now they want to take 34 percent of the little retirees get after decades of loyal service. The Plan of Adjustment assures that no banker will miss a meal, but for retirees it’s a death sentence.
“The City will pay ZERO into the pension fund for the next 10 years, which will depend entirely on charitable contributions which are not guaranteed. Cost of living increases are to be eliminated. Orr wants to make retirees pay back 34 percent of what they’ve already collected since June 2013 and take back some annuity money from retirees going back to 1999!”
The Moratorium Now! Coalition asserts there is “plenty of money” to pull the city out of bankruptcy without taking money from the retirees, current workers, residents and community members:
“Gov. Rick Snyder is withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue sharing owed Detroit. Orr could sue Bank of America, UBS and other big banks to recover the $300 million they stole in the pension swaps deal, and the over $500 million in ill-gotten gains via the Water Department bond swap. The banks that destroyed our cities with racist predatory loans have been fined $50 billion by the federal government (Chase Bank paid $13 billion alone!). Detroit should get some of that huge sum as restitution for destroying our neighborhoods.”
Go to moratorium-mi.org for a downloadable version of the “People’s Objection to the Plan of Adjustment” instructions and form, which meets federal bankruptcy guidelines, and file your objection in person or by U.S. mail by April 1. The Plan of Adjustment and other documents related to the bankruptcy are available, free of charge, on the internet at detroitdebtmoratorium.org and detroitmi.gov/EmergencyManager.aspx.
You do not need to live or work in Detroit to file an objection. If the banks’ austerity plan goes through in Detroit, attacks on all public workers’ pensions throughout the country will soon be on the agenda.
For more information on the April 1 demonstration, see moratorium-mi.org or call 313-680-5508.
This article also appeared at workers.org.