LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– Retired City of Lansing employees continue to push back against the city’s decision to make changes to their healthcare benefits, in an attempt to save money.
“We have never had a mayor who has done this to employee contracts,” said Mark Parker, a recent retiree who worked for the city for 30 years.
There was over an hour of public comment during Monday night’s city council meeting, as retirees spoke out against the changes. Parker said most people haven’t had the opportunity to speak to the council about their concerns, since meetings earlier in the month were canceled. He did, however, organize a protest outside city hall on Oct. 12.
In a statement published on the city’s website, Mayor Andy Schor said, “One of the biggest financial challenges that our city faces, along with many others across the country, is the unfunded financial liability related to retiree healthcare and pension obligations. While my administration and our employees have taken steps through collective bargaining to lessen the obligations in the future, the City must also address immediate needs.”
The mayor added that adjusting retiree benefits to match current employee benefits will save the City of Lansing $8 million per year, but it could mean additional out of pocket costs for retirees who said they were blindsided by the decision. Several council members agreed and said they were never consulted about the changes.
“There are very few times during this period of time that I have been embarrassed to be a council member and this is one of them,” said Carol Wood who has been with the council for 20 years.
“The bottom line if I would say anything, is just transparency and as a councilmember I would have appreciated a heads up,” said At-Large Council Member Patricia Spitzley.
Council Member Jeremy Garza questioned whether or not the contracts had already been signed, or if there was a way to reverse the decision, but no answer was given during the meeting.
Parker said another protest is planned for Thursday at Mayor Schor’s home.