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Richard R.

I worked for a company called Wolverine Tractor in Byron Center, MI. On December 22, 2009, I was informed that I would no longer have a job and that on January 1st, 2010, Wolverine Tractor would no longer exist.

The company was “absorbed” by Alta Fork Lifts in Grand Rapids, a non-union company. I interviewed with them but was informed that I would not be offered a position with Alta Fork Lifts. I was given no reason why from Alta. So, after 35 years of work and over 20 years into CSPF with only a few years left to earn a full pension, I was told I just no longer had a position.

I found out later that others in the department were offered a position. Each one was younger with fewer years and less experience in the field. When I called and asked my supervisor why I had not received an offer for work, I was given no reason why. My supervisor told me that he had never been unhappy with my work. I’d never been written up, was always at work on time, was the top sales person, and was the most knowledgeable and experienced in my department.

The economy in 2009 in Michigan was dire. Who would hire me at 58 years old and so close to retirement? In 2009 – no one! I was on unemployment until I could begin collecting my pension at 60 years old. This was much earlier than I had wanted to do so but circumstances forced me to retire before I was ready to or wanted to. For the next two years, I used my reduced early retirement pension funds and my IRA to keep us afloat until I could begin to collect Social Security at 62. Those four years were some of the longest and hardest years of my life. I had planned on a full 30-year retirement benefit with plenty of money in an IRA to have some fun and travel. Instead, I ended up with a reduced pension, a smaller Social Security monthly payment and an IRA with zero dollars left in it. But, I made it – we made it! We still had our home, our vehicles, and finally – peace. Then, the letter came . . .

Reading it made my skin crawl. How can a government of the people, by the people, and for the people seriously even consider implementing a policy that breaks a promise and steals money from the most vulnerable of its citizens?  What representation did “we the people” have in this decision? Is this the best this country can do for citizens who have been positive contributors to its success and its ability to thrive? No. I will never believe that we can’t do better than this! There is a way and it is up to our “representatives” and our government to find a way – for the people!

There can be no more cuts to my already reduced pension benefit. I already took all of the cuts I could to survive the Great Recession. In return, I received no bailout, no bonus, and no golden parachutes to offset the financial hit I withstood. I survived by giving up many luxuries, extras and . . . joy in order to simply survive.

We will not ask our children to support us. They have their own future to support and build. I will not rob  them because the government robbed me. And, getting a job is not an option for me at this time either. I’m 64 and I am being treated for cancer.

If these cuts are put into place, we will lose our home and our ability to purchase and maintain a vehicle as well. After my wife retires, I don’t know how we will pay the health care premiums for Medicare Gap coverage and our prescriptions! How will we simply exist and survive under this impossible “solution” to this problem? We won’t. We will become an even bigger burden to the system when we become dependent on the government for support: welfare, food stamps, tax cuts, health care, housing and more.

I never dreamed I would have this much stress to endure during my retirement years. It isn’t supposed to be this way. I did my job. I paid into my Pension fund. I did everything I was asked to do. I held up my end of this bargain and I’ve paid enough for the poor decisions of others. NO MORE CUTS – enough is enough.

Power is fascinating. Too much and it destroys everything in its path. Too little and it has no influence. Power that is beneficial successfully empowers what is powerless productively. We are powerless and can’t change what is coming without the power of your influence. Your energy will either empower our independence or “pull the plug” on our life support system.

Please help us. Empower us to continue to live joyful, full and productive lives as citizens of this great country. More than this, restore our confidence in this country, our government . . . of the people, by the people and . . . for the people.

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