Retired Birmingham employees upset over premium increases - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Retired Birmingham employees upset over premium increases

Retirees and their supporters gather at city hall. Source: WBRC video Retirees and their supporters gather at city hall. Source: WBRC video
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

A group of retired Birmingham employees came to city hall on Tuesday to question a big jump in the cost of their healthcare.

"I was in shock," Michael Bell, a retired Birmingham Police officer, said.

Bell suffered a back injury on the job in 1992.

"My premium was going up $600 a month and I would no longer have as good of healthcare as I did. I couldn't afford the plan they were offering us," Bell said.

Bell says his retirement check would be eaten up by the increase. Representatives of the city's human resources department told council members the retirees were budgeted for $3 million but the healthcare cost was more than $9 million and this added to the problem over the years.

Representatives of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Birmingham Fire Fighters Association asked council representatives to reconsider the health insurance plan the council has already approved.

"Angry. A little disgusted a city could look at treating its former employees, retirees this way when the they struggle as it is on retirement checks," David Crews, President of the FOP Lodge One, said.

If the new rates stay it would have a detrimental impact according to the head of the Birmingham Fire Fighters Association.

"Those guys who should go on and retire are now rethinking the issue. So you run the risk of having a 70-year-old fireman on fire trucks and that is not a good thing for the citizens," Don Baker with the Birmingham Fire Fighters Association #117 said.

Councilwoman Valerie Abbott warned if they cut the cost on the retirees the cost would have to come from the employees or the taxpayers.

A meeting is set for Thursday at 5 p.m. at city hall for city council members to discuss the rate increase,

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