The retired firefighters and paramedics we represent risked their lives each day throughout their careers to protect Chicago's citizens. Many suffered severe and debilitating injuries and illnesses directly linked to their public service. Now, in their time of need, the city has chosen let them become someone else's responsibility.
A previous court settlement had split the cost of a retiree's health care coverage three ways; the retiree, the retiree's pension fund and the City of Chicago would all contribute to pay premiums. Sounds fair, doesn't it? But Mayor Rahm Emanuel had other ideas. Even though this plan of "shared sacrifice" was in practice for decades, the city decided it wanted to "get out of the retiree health care business" altogether. These elders have now been left to fend for themselves. Many of these affected, including widows in their 80s and some in their 90s, are already living near the poverty level. Some no longer have the mental capacity to understand what is happening to them. Others are being forced to consider going back to work. Realistically, who will want to hire them? In others words, Chicago helped balance its budget by kicking former public servants to the curb. Nice.
Chicago calls itself a sanctuary city; a place where people can come to feel safe and secure. I guess that's true just as long as you're not one of these unfortunate former employees.
Tom Ryan, president
Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2
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