Detroit Firefighters Speak Out On Bankruptcy

video of firefighters in Spain disarming riot police during protests against austerity. 

“How can you claim that the city is broke when you pay Orr and his firm over $3 million?” David asked. “And the chief of police gets $250,000? It’s becoming more and more like a class separation, where either you’re rich or poor, with no middle class in between.”

Workers also expressed contempt for the official unions, which have opposed any unified struggle against Orr, and instead have insisted that they want to be partners with the emergency manager in imposing the dictates of the Wall Street banks. “You put union heads in there [negotiating with Orr] and they’ll get bought off for a cup of coffee. The unions used to be strong. Now the union bosses get invited to the big table, but then they just serve the company,” said David.

Raymond, a working firefighter, said, “I believe it is illegal. We as firefighters don’t get social security because we do not pay into it. But we have been paying into our pensions every check. Now they want to take it. And for what? So they can build a new hockey stadium?”

Paul has been fighting fires for 11 years. “Our battalion protested at the courthouse on Thursday,” he said. “We’re trying to work with what equipment we have, but right now it is the bare minimum. When I started fighting fires, I was thinking that after years of service I would be promoted and earn a good living, but now they are just cutting everything.”

Daryl is a retired firefighter who worked for 19 years. “I actually still get my disability payments,” he said, “but I want to fight for my brothers and sisters who are affected.

“We need to have firefighters all over, both outside and inside Detroit—and we need to shut this city down! We can’t stand any more cuts. I’m about as mad as I care to get about this.”

The World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) will continue to publish regular updates on the efforts of firefighters to defend their pensions and health benefits. We call on firefighters to use the WSWS to voice their concerns and as a forum to discuss the questions facing the working class in Detroit, the US and internationally. Firefighters are encouraged to print and discuss these articles in their workplaces and to send comments and updates to the WSWS. 

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