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We All Need to Prepare for Public Employees Pension Fight

Sep 30, 2016

The DeVos family has announced they're coming after your pension.

Hence the battle has begun to try to shape public perceptions on the issue, and MEA members and retirees will need to get up to speed to help combat misleading claims by our opponents and sway lawmaker votes on legislation. 

The fact is the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) is not broken. It won't bankrupt our state - unless, perhaps, antagonists succeed in shutting it down. And the loss of a secure retirement safety net for school employees will only exacerbate teacher shortages already being felt in Michigan. 

Rumors of a coming public pension fight had swirled in Lansing since summer, and they were confirmed with a speech in late September by Amway President Doug DeVos - who called restructuring of government employee pensions the top goal of the West Michigan Policy Forum.

That's the same group behind the Legislature's ramrodding of so-called right-to-work legislation in 2012 and corporate tax cuts before then.

In his speech, DeVos said the West Michigan Policy Forum's vote to advocate moving public employees to a 401(k)-style retirement system "sends a message to all of our elected officials. And we take these (votes) very seriously; we move them forward with all of our might."

The DeVos family contributed nearly $1.5 million to Republican legislative candidates in this year's August primary. Visit to see how much the DeVos family has given to your legislator.

The attack on MPSERS is expected to occur in December's legislative lame duck session - a post-election period before the new Legislature is seated in January, when a significant number of legislators remain in power who lost re-election or have been term-limited out of office.

Time is short in lame duck - and pressure is high. And while the pension issue is complex, our messages are simple and clear: MPSERS is on solid financial ground, pensions provide important economic benefits, and West Michigan billionaires should not be dictating public policies that benefit the wealthy and harm the rest of us.