Archived Story

Employees battle for retirement

Published 9:21am Monday, June 18, 2012

CASSOPOLIS — In a sea of bright green T-shirts, several Cass County employees stood before the Cass County Board of Commissioners Thursday, asking once again for the same retirement benefits other county employees have already received.
During the regular meeting of the board, Cass County Independent Employees Association President Tina Butler began a round of several public comments from various county employees. After previous appearances at other board meetings, the employees still posed the question asking why they are the only group to not receive a raise in their retirement multiplier. Currently, the group’s multiplier rests at 1.5 percent through the Municipal Employees Retirement System (MERS), while, according to Butler, other county employees have received a raise up to 2 percent in previous months. The half-percent difference equates to hundreds of dollars each month in an employee’s retirement paycheck, depending on the ending salary.
“We’re not getting answers,” Butler said in an interview Wednesday. “My union is becoming a casualty because of this.”
During the meeting, Butler asked the board if they were aware that the matter “has become personal” and that legal council is trying to have her dismissed from her position in the union along with one other union member.
“I’ve been in this position for years, so why has this become an issue now,” Butler said to the board.
District court employee Elizabeth Strukel expressed frustration over the unresolved matter and said she was shocked to hear of the pending lawsuits for removal of Butler and another union member.
“Tonight was the first that I have learned of this,” Strukel said. “I’m upset about it. It’s wrong and they’ve done nothing wrong to deserve that kind of treatment.
According to Butler and many employees who spoke Thursday evening, the deadline is fast approaching for a decision to be made. Other county employees attended Thursday evening’s meeting in support of the group.
Local attorney Mark Herman spoke on behalf of the group, also.
“To tell them ‘no’ is a travesty of justice,” Herman said. “They are good people and good employees, they deserve to be treated just as anyone else.”
According to Butler, no progress has been made on the issue.
Chairwoman Minnie Warren listened to several comments directed toward her from various employees who spoke. Currently, because contract negotiations are ongoing, she cannot comment on the matter.
“They never once asked to be treated better,” Herman said. “Treat them equally.”
The decision on the retirement multiplier must be made before July 1.

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