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Labor unions file suit against Milwaukee County over reduction in future pension payments

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MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - Three labor unions have gone to court to end a reduction in future lump sum pension payments for about 2,000 Milwaukee County government employees.

Last December, the County Board and County Executive Chris Abele voted to freeze the so-called “backdrop” payments at the levels which current employees earned as of this month.

Those hired after 2007 do not get backdrops at all – and about half of county employees will be in line for lump sum payments in exchange for smaller monthly pension checks.

Officials were hoping the freeze would make the backdrops disappear. Abele says they’ve cost hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years, and it has, “put a strain on our ability to provide critical services.”

Because of that, Abele said he was disappointed that the unions filed suit to restore the higher lump sum levels.

The backdrops were first approved in 2001. The system has paid out over $200 million to retirees, with some getting close to $1 million.

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