Press Release

AFT President Weingarten on Detroit Bankruptcy Ruling

For Release: 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Kate Childs Graham
202/393-6354; cell 202/615-2424

WASHINGTON—Statement by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on Detroit bankruptcy ruling:

"This is a dark day for the people of Detroit who worked hard, played by the rules and are now at risk of losing everything. If Detroit wants to rebuild a strong economy, it needs to prioritize its workers and middle class over the interests of Wall Street bankers.

"Detroit's bankruptcy was caused by predatory financial deals, a revenue crisis, massive job loss and Governor Rick Snyder's decision to slash state aid.

"Detroit retirees earn an average pension benefit of $19,000 per year. The city's public employees contributed to their retirement plan every year, while the city failed to make its full payments. Yet, the public employees now stand to earn substantially less. In the bankruptcy, the modest pensions of Detroit's firefighters, police officers and other city employees could be all but wiped out, even as Wall Street banks continue to extract hundreds of millions of dollars from the city's economy.

"According to a recent report, The Detroit Bankruptcy, modest pensions weren't the cause of Detroit's economic problems; rather, skyrocketing financial costs and decreased tax revenue were to blame. It's unfair and unjust that public workers take a lion's share of the hit, while Wall Street did the lion's share of damage."

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.