Pensions and $15 lunches heat up talk in Detroit - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Pensions and $15 lunches heat up talk in Detroit

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SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (myFOXDetroit.com) -

Wednesday, July 10, Detroit's union leaders and pension board members filed into yet another meeting to discuss something that many once believed was untouchable - pensions. But it was yet another meeting that proved to be unproductive.

"I'm angry. I'm frustrated. That's all I got from the meeting," Joe Barney, Detroit EMS Union rep tells Fox 2's Alexis Wiley.  

Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr has made it clear: The city cannot meet its obligations, and retirees and current employees could be forced to accept changes, and pay the price.

"Under the state constitution, absent bankruptcy, the parties do not have the authority, that I'm aware of, to sit down at the table, and reduce or diminish or impair retirement benefits at any level once they're accrued," explains Michael Vanoverbeke of the General Retirement System.

But just as Detroit union leaders were meeting with consultants and attorneys, sources tell us Wall Street creditors had a gripe of their own - and this time they weren't complaining about being offered millions less than they're owed. They're upset Detroit didn't pick up the tab for their lunch - a $15 cost.

"I was told, I'm just the same as those people that refuse to come to this city. I'm here every day. As soon as I leave here, I'll be on an ambulance. I'm not scared to show my face in this community. My dollars, as far as I'm concerned, are my numbers, means a little more than that banker that's in New York," Barney adds.

Wall Street creditors are expected to go back to New York and New Jersey sometime Thursday. Meanwhile, meetings with the unions and pension board members will continue.

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