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Patriot Retirees’ Health Care Benefits to End Dec. 31 Without Congressional Action

UMWA United Mine Workers Logo[TRIANGLE, VA.]  The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) today released a letter that was sent by the Patriot Voluntary Employee Beneficial Association (Patriot VEBA) to some 12,500 of its beneficiaries informing them that the Patriot VEBA will run out of money to pay health care benefits on Dec. 31, 2016 (letter attached).

“These workers put their lives and their health on the line every day for 25, 35, even 45 years, providing the fuel that energized our nation and made it the most powerful country on Earth,” UMWA International President Cecil Roberts said. “They earned every penny of these benefits and now, through no fault of their own, they are on the brink of losing them.”

“America made them a promise 70 years ago: ‘You mine the coal that makes our country strong, and we will see to it that you have retirement benefits in your old age,’” Roberts said. “That promise has been kept by Congresses and administrations led by Republicans and Democrats from that day to this one. This Congress and this administration have a responsibility to do so once again.

“This is a life or death matter for thousands in the coalfields,” Roberts said. “They are counting on our government to fulfill its moral obligation and pass legislation this year that will save their lives.”

The legislation, S. 1714 in the Senate and H.R. 2403 in the House, would preserve these retirees’ health care and pension benefits using an existing appropriation already set aside for coal miners’ retirement benefits. The Senate Finance Committee last month approved S. 1714 by a bi-partisan 18-8 vote.

S. 1714 was introduced by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va) and has 22 co-sponsors in the Senate, evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. H.R. 2403 was introduced by Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and has 87 co-sponsors, 47 Republicans and 40 Democrats. 

The affected retirees are those who worked at mines operated by Patriot Coal, Peabody Energy or Arch Coal and were represented by the UMWA. Patriot was created by a spin-off of Peabody’s unionized mines in 2007, and in 2008 it acquired mines that had been operated by Arch Coal.

Patriot entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2012, emerging on January 1, 2014. As part of the bankruptcy Judges’s order, Patriot was relieved of its obligation to pay retiree health care benefits. However, the UMWA negotiated payments from Patriot and Peabody to fund the VEBA for several years. Arch later agreed to contribute funding for the VEBA as well.

 Patriot was split up into separate companies as a result of a second bankruptcy in 2015, and Peabody and Arch filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2016.

“There is a ready solution to this critical problem,” Roberts said. “It is a simple solution, it is paid for and it is bi-partisan. When Congress returns to Washington in November, one of its first acts must be to pass this legislation and give these senior citizens the peace of mind that the benefits they paid for in sweat, toil and blood will be there when they need them.”

Feel Like There’s A Target On Your Back? Multiple Lawsuits Target Unions

Image by ogimogi  CC Flikr

Image by ogimogi
CC Flikr

All these lawsuits asking the Courts to rule against unions?  They’re NOT about First Amendment rights.

And now, one of the groups behind the lawsuits is admitting that.  And they’re saying it’s about stopping public sector unions. 

And they’re even portraying it as a strategic assault. 

Read it for yourself in this week’s National Law Journal: “Courts Should Seize the Opportunity To Disempower Public-Worker Unions” (free registration required).

They’re looking at this as a one-two punch. First: Harris v. Quinn (Supreme Court ruling expected any day now). Then, the NLJ editorial suggests, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association could deliver the final blow.

“Although there may not be five votes to end compulsory dues in the Harris case, Friedrichs v. CTA could provide the pivotal fifth vote for fundamentally re-ordering of public-employee union law.”

While you’re reading… don’t forget to translate!

  1. “Compulsory dues” translates to “union agency fees” (which cover the costs of negotiating and administering the contract, and nothing else.  Agency fees are NOT union “member dues”.).
  2. “Law that requires all public employees to join and support a union as a condition of employment” actually refers to California Government Code Chapter 10, which establishes a framework for teachers to collectively bargain – if they want to.  (Just like NH RSA 273-A provides a framework for collective bargaining; yet New Hampshire has lots of public workers who are not represented by any union.)

Don’t forget to look at the players!

  1. Plaintiffs in the Harris case are being represented by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation… which is affiliated with the National Right to Work Committee… which those of us here in the Granite State know all-too-well, right?
  2. According to the NLJ editorial, plaintiffs in the Friedrichs case are being represented by the Center for Individual Rights.  Read the Sourcewatch article here.
  3. But according to the actual Court filings in the Friedrichs case… plaintiffs are being represented by the law firm Jones Day.

Yeah, Jones Day.  Seems they’ve been quite active lately. The City of Detroit bankruptcy. The Patriot Coal bankruptcy. The Hostess Brands bankruptcy.   Verizon’s “de-risking” of its pension obligation.

And, can’t forget the Court case over nominations to the National Labor Relations Board.  (Read “How They Won It: Jones Day Invalidates Obama’s NLRB Picks” here.)

Are you feeling targeted yet?

Remember: you’re not the only one being targeted these days, you’ve got lots of company.  Public employees everywhere.  Anyone with a union pension or health care benefits.  Workers, in general.  The middle class.

Education is the best way to fight disinformation campaigns. Please share this with your friends on Facebook, or Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, or other social media.  It’s really easy; just click the buttons on the left.

United Mine Workers Reach Settlement For Retirees With Patriot Coal

UMWA, Peabody, Patriot reach global settlement, clearing way for continued funding of retiree health care

 More than $400 million going to VEBA

[TRIANGLE, VA]  The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) has reached a global settlement with Peabody Energy and Patriot Coal that will provide funding of more than $400 million to cover future health care benefits for retirees affected by the bankruptcy of Patriot Coal. Those benefits will be paid by the Patriot Retirees Voluntary Employee Benefit Association (VEBA).

Peabody will make payments totalling $310 million over the next four years, the proceeds of which will be applied to future retiree health care benefits. Payments of $90 million will be made in 2014, followed by payments of $75 million each year at the beginning of 2015 and 2016, with a final payment of $70 million at the beginning of 2017.

Patriot has agreed to contribute $15 million to the VEBA in 2014, with up to an additional $60 million to be paid into the fund over the following three years. This is in addition to the production-based royalty payments Patriot will make to the VEBA in upcoming years that could provide more than $15 million.

For its part, the UMWA has agreed to relinquish the value of virtually all of its 35 percent stake in Patriot, which the union received as a result of a May 29 ruling by federal Bankruptcy Judge Kathy Surratt-States. The union has also agreed to halt its months-long public relations and direct action effort related to Peabody in St. Louis and elsewhere regarding the effects of the Patriot Coal bankruptcy.

The settlement will be submitted to Judge Surratt-States for her approval. She is expected to rule shortly after a Nov. 6 hearing on this matter.

“I am very pleased that we have been able to reach this agreement with Peabody and Patriot,” said UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts. “This is a significant amount of money that will help maintain health care for thousands of retirees who earned those benefits though years of labor in America’s coal mines. This settlement will also help Patriot emerge from bankruptcy and continue to provide jobs for our members and thousands of others in West Virginia and Kentucky.”

Patriot Coal was spun off from Peabody in 2007, and entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization on July 9, 2012. Judge Surratt-States’ May 29 ruling allowed Patriot to quit paying health care benefits for retirees, and authorized the establishment of the VEBA, with initial funding of $15 million from Patriot and the 35 percent equity stake, to take over that responsibility.

Several thousand of those retirees worked for subsidiaries of Arch Coal, which has not yet settled with the union. “Arch still can step up and meet its obligation to these retirees,” Roberts said. “We will continue to encourage them to do so in the coming days.”

“This settlement, as significant as it is, still does not provide the level of funding needed to maintain health care for these retirees forever,” Roberts said. “That is why we are continuing our efforts to pass bipartisan legislation in Congress that will put these retirees under the Coal Act, meaning their long-term health care benefits would be secured at no additional cost to taxpayers,” Roberts said.

HR 2918, introduced in the House by Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.), currently has 24 co-sponsors from both parties. SB 468 was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and currently has six co-sponsors.

15 Arrested in St. Louis as Thousands Encircle Peabody Headquarters

Mine Workers Say Company Proposal Excludes Thousands of Retirees and Dependents Who Are Owed Health Care Benefits

St. Louis – Fifteen people were arrested in front of Peabody Energy headquarters today as members of the United Mine Workers and supporters protested the company’s continued refusal to pay for health care benefits promised to retired miners, their widows and dependents.

The arrests followed a spirited march and rally during which more than 5,000 protestors briefly blocked traffic in downtown St. Louis, surrounding the Peabody Energy building at 7th and Market Streets.

Among those arrested was Terrence Melvin, President of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) and Secretary-Treasurer of the New York State AFL-CIO. “I’ve never been in a mine, but today I am a mine worker,” Melvin told a roaring crowd.

UMWA President Cecil Roberts told demonstrators that the fight for health care for retired miners is “a faith-based struggle, a civil rights-based struggle,” with the potential to “turn America around.”

A company statement, issued yesterday, claiming that Peabody had offered to settle “all claims” with the UMWA is not accurate, said Roberts.

“They’re already paying, pursuant to a court order, $20 million a year for 3,100 people. The offer they made to us is for $10 million a year for those same 3,100. No thank you. The people who issued that statement want us to sell somebody out, but we’re not doing that.”

“There are a lot more than 3,100 people that Peabody is responsible for. You can’t settle all the claims,” said Roberts, “unless you cover all the people.”

Mike Louis, Secretary-Treasurer of the Missouri AFL-CIO, Claude Cummings, Vice President of CWA District Six, James Gilbert of the Union Veterans Council of America and Rev. Jonathan Stratton of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri also addressed today’s rally.

Peabody, the world’s largest private-sector coal company, reported $90 million in net income in the second quarter of 2013. Peabody executives spun off Patriot Coal in 2007, but did not provide the new firm with sufficient assets to meet its obligations to retired workers and their dependents.

Patriot Coal filed for bankruptcy in 2012, and won a federal Bankruptcy Court order which would have drastically reduced health benefits for retired workers, along with severe cuts in pay, benefits and working conditions for active workers.  Last month, UWMA members approved a settlement with Patriot Coal which made significant improvements over the terms and conditions approved by the Court.  The agreement establishes a mechanism for payment of health care benefits for retired miners. However, long-term funding for those benefits has not been secured.

The union’s ongoing effort to win full benefits for all affected retired miners includes a lawsuit against Peabody and Arch, filed in West Virginia; legislation in Congress to aid retired miners and their dependents, sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats; and an ongoing public education, advertising and community action campaign.

 

Additional information is available at FairnessAtPatriot.org.

Court Overturn Decision To Allow Patriot Coal To Stop Paying Retiree Benefits

The fight over retiree benefits and Patriot Coal is only the precursor to what corporations and public entities are trying to do.  They want to take all the money you worked for and saved in your retirement.  They are trying to weasel their way out of their obligations by filing for bankruptcy.  The UMWA have been leading this fight over Patriot Coal and it turn are creating a precidence that will be usable in Detroit or any other case that comes down the road.

Appellate bankruptcy court overturns decision allowing Peabody Energy to stop paying for health care benefits for 3,100 retirees and dependents

[TRIANGLE, VA.] The United States Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the Eighth Circuit today reversed a decision by federal Bankruptcy Judge Kathy Surratt-States that would have allowed Peabody Energy to stop paying health care benefits for some 3,100 retirees that it had assumed in the spinoff of Patriot Coal.

The strongly-worded decision by the three-Judge panel means that Peabody continues to hold responsibility for paying the health care benefits for this group of retirees, who are mostly in the Midwest.

“This is a bright ray of good news in what has been a long, dreary period for the retirees, their dependents and widows who have been desperately worried about what’s going to happen to their health care,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said.

“Peabody has spent years trying to get rid of its obligations to the thousands of retirees who made it the richest coal company in the world,” Roberts said. “This decision foils part of that plan. And it makes us even more determined to keep fighting to make sure the company lives up to its entire obligation to these miners.”

In preparation for the spinoff of Patriot, Peabody signed a 2007 agreement with Heritage Coal Co., which was at the time a Peabody subsidiary that Peabody included in the Patriot spinoff. That agreement allowed Peabody to reduce its contribution levels for retiree health care benefits to the same level as Heritage (Patriot) would pay if such levels were modified in the future.

Peabody argued that since Heritage (Patriot) was relieved of all its obligation to pay for retiree health care by Judge Surratt-States, that Peabody should be relieved of its obligation as well. Judge Surratt-States agreed, and issued a ruling in Peabody’s favor on May 29. Patriot and Heritage appealed, and their appeal was supported by the UMWA.

United Mine Workers Of America (UMWA) members ratify settlement with Patriot Coal

UMWA United Mine Workers Logo[TRIANGLE, VA.] Members of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) who work at Patriot Coal operations in West Virginia and Kentucky today ratified a settlement the union reached with the company late last week that makes significant improvements in terms and conditions of employment over a federal Bankruptcy Judge’s order from last May.

The final tally was 85% in favor to 15% opposed. Members from 13 local unions participated in the vote, which was overseen by UMWA local union tellers and conducted at worksites. The UMWA International Auditor/Tellers have certified the vote.

“The membership has made it clear that they are willing to do their part to keep Patriot operating, keep their jobs and ensure that thousands of retirees continue getting the health care they depend on and deserve,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said. “This has been a difficult and uncertain year for our members. But I believe that in the end, they understood that we had done a lot to improve what the judge had ordered. They also understood all that was at stake and resolved to move forward in a positive way.

“But as we work to keep Patriot a viable company into the future, we have not forgotten how we got here and who is responsible,” Roberts said. “With this agreement, we have foiled the schemes of Peabody Energy and Arch Coal by continuing to both provide health care for retirees and maintain union jobs at these mines.”

Roberts noted that the settlement with Patriot does not provide enough resources to fulfill the promise of lifetime health care benefits that Peabody and Arch agreed to provide to thousands of retirees from those companies.

“We are now able to turn our full attention to securing the lifetime health care benefits Peabody and Arch promised these retirees,” Roberts said. “If those companies thought our public effort to highlight their poor corporate citizenship was over, they will quickly find out otherwise. We’re moving into a new phase of that effort, and soon. We fully intend to hold Peabody and Arch accountable.

“It is also more critical than ever that the bipartisan legislative efforts in Congress to provide help to these retirees move forward,” Roberts said. “This settlement has not solved that problem, it has only bought us time to seek a more permanent solution.

“The clock is now ticking towards a day when the funding we have been able to secure for retiree health care benefits will run out,” Roberts said. “It would be unconscionable to leave these senior citizens hanging, wondering if they will be again thrust into the uncertainty they have endured the last 13 months. I urge our friends in Congress on both sides of the aisle to move as fast as they can to renew the government=s promise to these retirees, their dependents and widows.”

Mine Workers Hear Details Of Patriot Coal Settlement

(CHARLESTON, W.VA.) Nearly 2,000 active and retired members of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) gathered here and in Evansville, Ind., to hear the details of the settlement the union reached last Friday with Patriot Coal. International President Cecil E. Roberts made the presentation in Charleston, and International Secretary Treasurer Dan Kane led the discussion in Evansville.

Members heard the particulars of the provisions the union negotiated that are significant improvements over what federal Bankruptcy Judge Kathy Surratt-States ordered on May 29, 2013. Those improvements include:

  • Restoration of all but $1.00 per hour in wage cuts that were as high as $7.53 per hour for some job classifications;
  • Annual wage increases of $0.50 per hour beginning Jan. 1, 2015;
  • Keeping Patriot in the UMWA 1974 Pension Fund, meaning there will be no affect on pension benefits for current retirees, and currently active members will continue to earn pension credit;
  • Elimination of monthly premiums for health care benefits;
  • Reducing the annual out-of-pocket maximum for health care benefits by 60 percent, from $4,000 to $1,600;
  • Restoration of life insurance benefits, vision care benefits, dental insurance and Accidental Death and Dismemberment insurance;
  •  Establishment of a Voluntary Employee Benefit Association (VEBA) as the mechanism for paying retiree health care benefits going forward. As part of the settlement, Patriot gave the union a 35-38 percent stake in the company. The VEBA will be funded by initial contributions by Patriot, the sale of the union’s stake, and ongoing royalty payments of $0.20 per ton of coal mined by the company.

“We were able to significantly modify and improve upon what the Judge ordered in this settlement,” Roberts said. “I told Patriot management that I could not recommend that our members work under the Judge’s order, and they understood that we would not. That understanding enabled us to work out this settlement over the past months since the order came down.

“This is a day and a document that I believe Peabody Energy never thought would come,” Roberts said. “When they devised the scheme to spin off Patriot and dump all Peabody’s legacy liabilities – along with some significantly underwater coal supply contracts – Peabody executives had to know they were setting up Patriot up to fail. They thought it was only a matter of time until Patriot was a goner.

“But they were wrong,” Roberts said. “They didn’t count on our willingness to fight back, do whatever it took to preserve the benefits our retirees earned and keep our members working at jobs worth having. And I believe that current Patriot management – which is no longer dominated by former Peabody executives – truly wants this company to survive and were willing to work with us to make that happen.”

The ratification vote will be held on Friday, Aug. 16, at the various Patriot subsidiary workplaces in West Virginia and Kentucky where the UMWA represents the workers. Local union tellers will count the ballots and report the results to the UMWA International Auditor/Tellers, who will compile the total vote and announce the results Friday evening.

The video shown to the membership in today’s meetings is available here.

United Mine Workers of America reaches settlement with Patriot Coal

[TRIANGLE, VA.] The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) today announced that the union has reached a settlement with bankrupt Patriot Coal on new terms and conditions of employment that makes significant improvements over what federal Bankruptcy Judge Kathy Surratt-States ordered on May 29, and what Patriot implemented on July 1.

“After several weeks of nearly around-the-clock negotiations, I believe we have reached something that can be taken to the membership for ratification,” UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said. “We have been able to restore, or at least improve upon, many of the most drastic changes that the Judge ordered, including in the area of wages, health care benefits, paid time off, pensions, and more. In addition, we have negotiated a mechanism that will allow retiree health care benefits to continue.”

The vote will take place on Friday, Aug. 16. Some 1,800 active or laid-off members in West Virginia and Kentucky are eligible to vote. The union will not release details of the settlement until after those members have had a chance to hear its terms.

Detroit: latest battleground in the war on the Middle Class

whose_rightsThere are times when I would really prefer to be wrong… and Wednesday was one of them.

Yesterday afternoon, the federal judge overseeing Detroit’s bankruptcy proceedings suspended all other legal actions by public workers who are trying to protect their constitutional rights.  And it is very unlikely that workers’ rights will be considered during the bankruptcy proceedings.

What good are constitutional rights, if workers can’t get them enforced in court?  It’s the same basic dilemma that we’ve been looking at, with all the controversy about members of the National Labor Relations Board.  If the NLRB doesn’t have enough members for a quorum – and so they can’t enforce the National Labor Relations Act – then do workers really have the rights supposedly guaranteed to them?

Read my post “Who has rights when Detroit goes to court?” here.

The next step is a procedural hearing on August 2nd, when the judge will decide whether to go ahead and appoint a mediator in the case.

—–

Ever read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War?

Back in the 1990s, the book was a must-read for MBA candidates learning a new, bloodthirsty style of management.  When Newt Gingrich was taking over as Speaker of the House in 1994, he included it on his “reading list” for incoming Republicans.  It’s also a favorite of Republican strategist and Fox News chief Roger Ailes.

One of its principal themes is: Know your opponent.  So let’s look at Detroit from that perspective.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder:

Bankruptcy Counsel, the law firm of Jones Day:

  • Hostess Strike BCTGM Jones Day was lead bankruptcy counsel for Hostess Brands.  We all know how that turned out: the company’s assets sold off, union contracts tossed to the wind, pension monies lost, bonuses given to top executives, lots and lots of jobs lost.
  • According to press reports, Jones Day attorney Jack Newman represents Peabody Energy in a bankruptcy hearing involving health benefits for retired mine workers, which NH Labor News readers know as the “Patriot Coal” case.  Peabody Energy was the company that “spun off” Patriot Coal in 2007.  A lawsuit filed in federal court in Charleston, WV charges that Peabody violated the federal Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) by scheming to eliminate contractually-guaranteed lifetime health care benefits for retirees.  (Learn more at the Fairness at Patriot website.)
  • Chicago Teachers Strike 2Remember the Chicago teachers’ strike?  Guess who takes credit for ending it?  From the law firm’s website: “The Chicago teachers’ strike settled the day after Jones Day filed a motion for a temporary restraining order on behalf of the Chicago Board of Education against the teachers union.”
  • Verizon?  Guess who’s their lawyer.  Back in 2006, Jones Day won a federal court appeal, limiting the union’s ability to send grievances to arbitration.  Now they’re in court defending Verizon’s transfer of pension obligations (described as one of the two “largest pension de-risking transactions in US history”).
  • And, back on the subject of the National Labor Relations Board, guess who… oh, nevermind guessing.  Just read “How they Won It: Jones Day Invalidates Obama’s NLRB Picks” here.

Yeah, these are the folks that our union brothers and sisters are up against, out there in Detroit.

And it doesn’t look like they are going to be able to rely on the court system to protect their legal rights.

—–

Sun Tzu gets the final word, here: “There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.”

It’s time for the right-wing’s war on the Middle Class to stop.

—–

Read my Friday blog post about Detroit here.

Read Monday’s post here.

Read Tuesday’s post here.

Read yesterday’s post here.

Think you’ve got retirement benefits? Think again.

Really, truly: what is happening in Detroit is more important to you than the Zimmerman jury sequestration details.  Or the Rolling Stone cover.  Or any of the other things that have been distracting us lately.

Detroit has gone bankruptWhat’s going on in Detroit could steal our families’ financial security.  It could radically alter what our lives are going to be like, here in New Hampshire, when we can’t work any longer.

Here’s the short version:  four months ago, the Republican Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, named bankruptcy lawyer Kevyn Orr to be “emergency financial manager” of the City of Detroit.

Yesterday, Attorney Orr filed a petition in federal court to have the city declared bankrupt.

What’s he looking for?  High on his list: debt relief from the city’s obligations to its current and future retirees.

This is where you need to start watching, really closely.  Depending on which accounting method is used, Detroit’s pension systems are either 91.4% funded or 69.3% funded.

The New Hampshire Retirement System “presently has a funded ratio of 56.1 percent.”

Yes, Detroit’s pension funds are in a lot better financial condition than ours is.  Yet Attorney Orr says their unfunded liability is too large, and he has asked a federal court to give the public employer “relief” from its retirement obligations.

Sound familiar? Down in West Virginia, thousands of people have been protesting a bankruptcy judge’s decision to let Patriot Coal off the hook for its retirees’ benefits.

And in Oklahoma, American Airlines retirees are waiting to see if a bankruptcy judge will let their employer renege on long-promised benefits.

Yes, using bankruptcy to evade pension obligations has been a problem in the private sector for decades now.  But just last month, it became a problem for public sector employees, too.

During bankruptcy proceedings for Stockton, California, a federal judge ruled that the city could use bankruptcy to relieve itself of the obligation to provide retiree health benefits.  “The liability for retiree medical benefits is estimated by the parties to be in the hundreds of millions.”  Stockton retirees are having to settle for a single lump sum payment of $5.1 million.  That’s barely pennies on the dollar, for a debt owed to people who spent their careers in public service.

And now Attorney Orr is trying to take Detroit down that same path toward “debt relief”.

Think it couldn’t happen here?  Think you can rely on the 1984 constitutional amendment, Article 36-a, that was meant to protect New Hampshire public workers from raids on our retirement benefits?

Probably City of Detroit workers thought their 1963 constitutional amendment would protect their retirement benefits, too.

What’s really going on here?

During the 2007-2008 Wall Street meltdown, public pension systems across America lost more than a trillion dollars in value.   Yes, that’s “trillion” – with a “T”.

And now that our pensions are a trillion dollars underfunded, they’re being attacked as “unaffordable”.  (Aren’t you glad Bill O’Brien isn’t still Speaker of the NH House?)

Any guesses on how many other Republican governors and mayors will soon be trying to “restructure” their way out of obligations to public sector retirees?

————

Back when I worked for Republican politicians, they truly believed in the sanctity of contracts (such as employers’ contractual obligation to pay long-promised retirement benefits).

In fact, when they talked about “core functions” of government, the enforcement of contracts was right up there at the top of the list.  After all, how can the economy function if parties aren’t required to live up to their contractual obligations?

Perverting the bankruptcy process to obtain “relief” from contractual obligations… well, that wasn’t anywhere in the playbook, back when I worked for Republicans.

————

Can’t help but notice…

The very same day that 30,000 Detroit public workers learned their financial future was on the chopping block, thanks to losses from the 2007-2008 Great Recession…

…over there on Wall Street, the Dow hit another record high.

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