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Detroit firefighters, police show up for bankruptcy hearings

In Detroit today, firefighters and police came out to watch the first day of federal bankruptcy hearings.

They know their pensions could be on the line.

Detroit’s pension funds are $3.5 billion short, according to the emergency manager.

So pensions will likely be slashed as the city tries to dig out of debt.

But some Detroit employees are filing to block the bankruptcy.

They say it goes against the state Constitution, which specifically protects public pensions.

Derrell Freeman is a captain with the Detroit Fire Department.

“We don’t pay into social security. The average age of a firefighter after you retire is 65. It’s absurd that we’re sitting here having a conversation about a pension that we earned,” he says.

Today the federal judge will consider whether pensioners can move forward with their filing at the state level, before the federal court returns next month.

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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