The Michigan Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Macomb County retirees’ benefits can be altered.
A class-action lawsuit against the county involved 16,000 unionized Macomb County retirees. The majority opinion says Macomb County's collective-bargaining agreements did not give the plaintiffs the right to unalterable and lifetime retirement health care benefits.
The plaintiffs sought monetary damages after the county made changes to retiree health care benefits.
John Schapka is Macomb County’s corporation counsel.
"The county's intention from the very beginning was never to curtail, limit, or eliminate, or reduce retiree health care," he said. "In fact, all of the county officials who've been, I think very wrongfully accused of trying to cancel retiree health care, are all going to be retirees someday."
The ruling reverses the Michigan Court of Appeals decision that sided with the retirees.
"The county long ago made a promise to its retirees and we have every, every intention to keep that promise," Schapka said. "Not just to the current retirees, but future retirees that would include people like me."
Macomb County officials say they do not intend to reduce retiree health care coverage.
The plaintiff's lawyers have not responded to requests for comment.