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Monday, January 5, 2015

Protecting the Retired after Bankruptcy with the Membership

By Richard C. Clement

What should Members do to protect their pensions from being exploited?

Be sure to monitor board proceedings and monthly statements regarding money management, and health care regarding the clawback feature of your benefits. As a part of the bankruptcy settlement, all that was taken from the retirees will be restored once the balance sheet shows a profit. All Americans must have health care as required by law. Therefore with the clawback feature of the Voluntary Employee Benefits Agreement (VEBA), retirees can ask for things like lower monthly premiums on their Affordable Care Act health insurance, $5.00 flat rate co-pay or, other incentives decided upon by the membership. 

To make this work, you must also go to meetings and participate. If you are not able to attend, you may want to consider having an advocate group or someone who has the time to monitor the accounting on the behalf of the groups. This would fully protect the Police and Fire Fighters who do not pay into Social Security and, General Retirees who do pay into Social Security and got screwed also. Therefore we must think outside the box and, in some cases just totally forget a box and think like a ball.

What is clawback?

One proposal is to use the clawback feature of the VEBA to look at alternative funding for City retirees health care and cost of living changes beyond their control.  With the language of Michigan Senate Bills 427151045439, and 5440, revenue from Provisioning Centers, Safe Testing Facilities and Industrial Hemp development (click here to see a hempcrete home) can be approved to fund retiree health care costs.  States like Colorado and Washington have generated over $300+ million dollars in revenue from Marijuana sales and agricultural Industrial Hemp development.

Products like concrete for bricks and drywall will help build homes and business from Industrial Hemp or the Male Cannabis plant. An investment into new construction projects like redesigning and reopening City Airport for Commercial air traffic is a proposal that will help generate revenue in the form of new business and blight elimination.  Trade schools encouraging public service jobs for youth and people in general who want a trade, job, or career is a sound investment in the future with pension funds. Why? because you need new business and skilled people to pay into the fund and, that requires knowledge and a well-paying job.  The late Mayor Coleman Young once said that solution to progress in Detroit is a well-paying job with a living wage.  This business plan worked for Henry Ford and, now we have to work a new plan for the City of Detroit.

With the recent federal convictions of prior pension board managers, we feel that the eyes of pension participants is of the utmost importance. Councilmember Pro-Tem Cushingberry Jr. welcomes the FBI, GAO, M.L. Elrick, Sharon Epperson, and anyone else who want to inspect the books of the City of Detroit regarding investments and money management. The retirees will never ever have to put up with this again without their knowledge. In other words the City of Detroit is welcoming you to look at the books and, one day it will be online in real time. With liberty and financial justice for all.

Stay tuned.

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