Like his fellow Detroit Fire Department retirees, BURN star Brendan "Doogie" Milewski is coming out better than expected in a new proposal, but that doesn't mean everything's hunky dory. Thankfully, Detroit emergency workers' base pensions will remain untouched. Frustratingly, cost-of-living increases have been reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Even social security, which most firefighters are not eligible for, has a higher cost-of-living allowance. Given the Draconian cuts that have been proposed as part of the city's bankruptcy, this is a win. But, considering the massive hit retirees took earlier this year when the city canceled their health coverage, it's an empty one. And the vouchers they're getting toward health insurance don't go far: $125-$400 per month to spend toward private insurance.
"Since February when we were forced to purchase our own health insurance, retirees are paying $10-16k a year to insure themselves and a spouse. It's worst for those between 60-65." The Detroit Fire Department has a mandatory retirement age of 60, but are left hanging until Medicare kicks in when they turn 65.
Doogie's 34. He was paralyzed on the job, and has significant, ongoing, and extraordinarily expensive medical issues. The financial burden he and his wife face — not only because of his injury, but because of his decision to become a firefighter in Detroit — could be devastating.
"I'm anxious to see if there have been any provisional 'carve outs' for individuals like myself that suffered catastrophic injuries on the job," he says. "Catastrophic injuries and widows of those killed in the line of duty represent such a small percentage of the retiree population. I hope someone with some compassion is negotiating with our interests in mind."
We're all hoping for that.
That said, Doogie's trying to keep a cool head, and not answering his phone. "Honestly, I feel all these reporters are jumping the gun," he says. "We don't even have all the literature or ballots in our hand yet."
Please note: The Milewskis are not soliciting donations or hosting a fundraiser. But thanks to those who've asked.