Michigan unions sue over state worker pension changes

LANSING, MI &#8211 A coalition of state employee labor unions sued the state of Michigan on Monday, saying recent changes to the funding of the employees’ retirement systems are unconstitutional.

The suit filed in Ingham County Circuit Court challenges a law approved by the Legislature and signed late last year by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The law requires employees who choose to remain in the state’s defined benefit or pension plan to contribute 4 percent of their compensation toward the system.

The law also eliminated a 3 percent contribution that state workers had been making to help cover retiree health costs. The law instead eliminates retiree health insurance coverage for new state employees hired after Jan. 1, replacing that benefit with a 401(k)-like system for health coverage.

A coalition representing roughly 34,000 state workers said in the lawsuit that the Legislature didn’t have authority to make the changes on its own. The suit argues that the Michigan Civil Service Commission is the agency authorized to regulate conditions of employment for the state employees.

“If they’re going to make changes like that, we should make them at the bargaining table,” said Phil Thompson, executive vice president of Service Employees International Union Local 517M.

Other unions in the coalition include the United Auto Workers Local 6000, AFSCME Council 25, the Michigan Corrections Organization and the Michigan State Employees Association.

Snyder’s spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

From CBSnews.com.