Hundreds of firefighters and police officers joined forces against legislation they said will hurt their financial future.
There was a massive demonstration at the capitol complex in Lansing on Wednesday denouncing bills that would reform health care and pensions for retirees, current and future employees.
Law enforcement and firefighters made their voices heard after Michigan Republicans announced they are working on a set of bills that could affect retirement and pension plans across the state.
First responders worry their benefits could be stripped away.
"We're out here to protect what we worked for," said Joe Adams, president of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Adams said he represented police on a government task force, coming up with compromises on changes that could be made to retiree healthcare and pensions.
He said the House has thrown out their recommendations.
House Republicans have not released the details of their plan, but Adams said the drafted bills would take some control away from local governments. He said it would do so by creating a statewide committee that would evaluate each city's finances.
"Don't go against the collective bargaining agreements that the cities have done in good faith. We've already taken a lot of hits," Adams said.
First responders worry it would be especially negative in communities that are already struggling or bankrupt.
Charles Middleton used to work in one of those communities as a Flint police officer.
"They're trying to hurt your health benefits in your pension. Probably try to do away with that. Most of us retired people are already living paycheck to paycheck," Middleton said.
House Speaker Tom Leonard and his office released a statement that reads in part:
Many Michigan cities are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Just like Detroit a couple years ago, bankruptcy means a federal judge coming in to balance the books by any means necessary, including cuts to pensions and healthcare benefits. Nobody wants that, and no one wants to see these communities fall further underwater. We need to do something and find a plan that gives these communities a way out before it is too late.
Adams wants the lawmakers to consider the task force recommendations. He hopes the people who spent their lives helping others get what they are owed.
"We've been guaranteed a benefit when we retire. That's all we're asking for. Don't mess with our benefits," Adams said.
The House press secretary said Leonard has been working for weeks with first responders to try to come up with a solution.
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