The Michigan Supreme Court begins hearing arguments today involving two disputed laws passed during the first term of Governor Rick Snyder.

First, justices will consider whether the state’s recent ‘right-to-work’ law, which eliminated the payment of union dues as a condition of employment, also applies to unionized state employees.  

Second, it will explore whether the state exceeded its authority in 2011 when Michigan pensioners became subject to a 4-percent contribution from their pay in order to keep full benefits.

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From the Detroit bankruptcy to a high-profile lawsuit against phone giant Verizon, pensions are in the news lately. With all the talk about pensions being frozen, or reduced, or bought out, we wanted to get kind of a “Pensions 101” perspective.

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Fewer Americans enjoy the benefits of a pension in retirement. The recession wiped out so much invested wealth, enough of it earmarked for public workers’ pensions, that states fell much further behind in funding them. A period of transition continues, with state and local governments switching more workers to 401k style retirement plans.

A class-action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of retired public employees against the state for extending Michigan’s income tax to pensions.

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State workers would no longer have to fork out four-percent of their salaries to keep their pensions if a judge’s ruling stands.