LETTER: Commissioners need to work harder to create reasonable contract

Published 4:25 pm Thursday, March 24, 2022

“Back the Blue,” but talk is cheap at the Cass County Commission.

It isn’t Nancy Pelosi or A.O.C. or some other liberal far-out politician that is threatening to “defund the police.” but right here in Cass, our commission. At a time of increasing revenues and grants from federal and State government for public safety, and growing tax revenues, our Cass County Commission is pressing our public safety officers and other employees to give up their pensions. The reason is a $10 million deficit and projections of increasing — not shrinking — deficits in the Cass County employees’ pension fund. These are pensions that have been gained through mutual collective bargaining, as both sides agreed to the amount and duration of the pensions.

Mutual agreements should be fully funded, and allowing a huge deficit to build up demonstrates a lack of good faith and unprincipled labor relations. Moreover, this comes at the same time we read of extreme difficulty in hiring and keeping qualified public employees. Things are so bad that new hires are being brought in over the salary of existing employees, an atrocious practice destined to bring instability to the workforce we depend on to keep Cass County an attractive place to live and raise a family.

Get back to the table. Fix the problem by stepping up and upholding the county’s obligation to fund the pensions they have already agreed to. Find the money to keep and retain the best and most qualified deputies, officers, administrative and DPW employees, to deliver our services and keep Cass families whole. Collective bargaining is a mutual process. Neither side should be forced to accept an unacceptable contract.

Do better, commissioners.

 

Jim Pedersen

Cassopolis