By Charles Sercombe
Hamtramck police officers may be the first group of Michigan public employees to challenge a new state law.
Officers here got a Wayne County Circuit Court injunction, from Judge Robert Ziolkowski, to temporarily halt a city health insurance plan.
The new plan calls for officers to carry most of the weight of their insurance coverage, ranging from $3,900 for individual coverage to $11,000 for family coverage.
According to a new state law (Public Act 152), there is a cap on how much municipalities can pay for public employees’ benefits once their employment contract expires by Jan. 1.
The two unions representing police officers in Hamtramck say the law technically says that requirement only applies when their current insurance contract expires, which has five months to go.
The injunction will be heard Jan. 17, a day before the first paycheck deductions were supposed to take place.
The city insists the law is clear — the state law takes effect once the employment contract expires.
In the meantime, the Hamtramck City Council took a second look at the insurance deal it agreed on at its Dec. 27 meeting. Since that meeting, two new councilmembers have come on board.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, over a dozen officers and their spouses and children packed the chambers.
Despite the outpour, the council refused to overturn the previous decision. In the vote to rescind the new health insurance plan, the council split in a 3-3 tie, meaning it failed.
Mayor Karen Majewski was absent from the meeting because she was out of town. Had she been there, the tie-breaking vote would have come down to her.
Before the vote, there was a heated debate on council in what to do.
You can read more about what was said in City Hall Insider.
Police officer Jon Bondra, a union representative, said officers were “surprised and shocked” that the council refused to go with an alternative health plan that would have resulted in greater savings to the city.
The officers’ union had an initial agreement with the city on a health package that would have produced an additional $200,000 a year in savings. Bondra said that deal was abruptly withdrawn.
“It seems that they want to get more out of us,” Bondra said.