By Jennifer Gomori, MAPE Editor

Photos by Jennifer Gomori, MAPE Editor                                                           MAPE Executive Director Fred Timpner (left) welcomed Senator Debbie Stabenow as a guest speaker to the Annual Open House Dec. 8. Pictured right of Stabenow are MAPO President Michael Sauger and Karoub Associates Partner Jim Curran.

Senator Debbie Stabenow joined MAPE, MAP and MAFF labor representatives and members Friday, Dec. 8 at the Annual Open House to show her support for public employee and public safety unions and their efforts to stop legislation which could significantly impact their ability to bargain over pensions and retiree health care and threaten benefits already promised to existing retirees.

Senator Stabenow, whose grandfather was a Detroit Police Officer until he became disabled following a high speed chase, expressed her opposition to the measures. Stabenow wanted to let MAPE, MAP and MAFF members know she opposes the attack on public employee retirement benefits.

“I cannot believe you have to worry about your pensions being paid,” Stabenow said. “It just enrages me as well as energizes me. Your senators fought really hard to stop it from happening.”

Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke with MAP Executive Board President Rich Heins (left) and Sterling Heights Police Officers Association representatives Brad Pluger (from right of Stabenow), Jesse Wilson and local union President Mike Kunath at the Open House.

MAPE, MAP and MAFF representatives and public employees across the state called their legislators and descended on the Capitol in recent weeks, rallying forces to express their opposition to House Bills 5298-5313 and Senate Bills 686-701. MAP, MAPE and MAFF, through affiliation with Michigan Association of Police Organizations (MAPO) and Labor/Management Coalition of Michigan, joined forces to express their support for Governor Rick Snyder’s task force on Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Governments report. The task force report, released July 2017, was signed by several stakeholders including local government groups and police and fire unions.

The vast majority of Lansing legislators did not support the post-employment benefit legislation, which would have allowed more state control than the task force report. The bills called for a state financial management team to step in when municipalities failed to agree on a corrective action plan or were deemed not to be making progress.

Stabenow noted that she is “leading the charge” at the federal level to introduce bills protecting private sector pensions as well. She is encouraging the use of federal resources to support public safety. “I am laser focused on the federal resources …” Stabenow said. “I know we’re in a time of cuts, but I’m supporting it every way I can.”

Stabenow said she tried to get tax write-offs for police and fire personnel to recoup some of their out of pocket expenses. Although she was unsuccessful with the write-offs, she said, she understands the difficulties police face dealing with the mentally ill. “I’m leading efforts around mental health and addictions services.”

The Senator supports funding for 24-hour emergency psychiatric centers.

“If you are successful, we are successful and our communities are safer,” Stabenow said.