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The PFANJ Welcomes Our Brothers & Sisters from the Ocean City Fire Department -
Ocean City Firefighters IAFF Local 4032
Ocean City Firefighters Have Joined the Over 300,000 Members of the IAFF Throughout the United States and Canada
NJ AFL-CIO: How Gov. Christie Has Failed Working Families
He Broke His Word – and Broke the Law. Christie coaxed Democratic lawmakers to the table on a promise of restoring the state pension systemto fiscal health. He extracted painful concessions from active workers and retirees in exchange for a legal commitment to phase in the state’s full pension payment. Workers and retirees did their part – and Christie eventually went to court to have his own pension reform law declared invalid. His continued refusal to uphold the law he championed and signed has left the pension system in worse shape than when he became governor six years ago.
He Enriched His Friends. While shirking his legal responsibility to fund the pension system, Christie has turned over bigger and bigger portions of the pension investment portfolio to private fund managers. New Jersey paid a record $615 million in fund management fees last year, more than four times the amount paid to outside firms during Gov. Jon Corzine’s last year. The Wall Street managers didn’t beat the S&P 500, but NJ’s in-house pension managers did. Many of those fees went to firms run by big GOP donors.
He Mismanaged the Economy. New Jersey's economy has consistently lagged other states under Christie. The rate of economic growth in 2014 was 46th. Personal incomes of New Jersey residents also grew at a slower rate than neighboring states and the nation as a whole last year. Christie gave away more than $5 billion in corporate welfare, then rejected a bill to document the effectiveness of his signature economic growth strategy.
He Failed to Create Jobs. The state’s unemployment rate of 6.5 percent is the seventh highest of the 50 states, and a full point above the national jobless rate.
He Bullied Teachers and Undermined Public Education. He berated teachers for receiving a “full-time salary for a part-time job,” attacked the NJEA for fighting to preserve members’ pensions and advocated for public school dollars to be funneled to charter and religious schools.
He Wrecked the State’s Borrowing Credit. The governor’s failure to fiscally manage the state well has resulted in a record 9 credit downgrades among Wall Street rating agencies, the highest of any governor in New Jersey history. What that means for taxpayers is that the state pays more to borrow money – New Jersey is a worse credit risk now than when Christie became governor, despite the economic recovery happening around us.
Important Information on Supreme Court Health Care Decision
As many of you are aware, recently the Supreme Court handed down another landmark decision addressing the president’s controversial health care law known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In the case of King v. Burwell, the court was charged with determining if individuals purchasing health care through the federal exchange were permitted to receive tax subsidies. Since the court’s ruling, we have received numerous questions regarding the impact of the ruling on our members and their health plans. Generally speaking, there is no immediate effect on IAFF members or their plans. To help our IAFF members to better understand the ruling, we have prepared the following supplemental materials:
Regardless how the Supreme Court ruled, we have a major concern over the portion of the ACA which imposes a 40 percent excise tax on high-cost health plans beginning in 2018. The IAFF has taken a leading role in a coalition of labor and corporate interests in trying to repeal the excise tax. Current legislation (H.R. 2050) to repeal the tax has been introduced by Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT), a bipartisan bill with more than115 co-sponsors. We will continue our fight to repeal this provision of the ACA and work to ensure that the benefits our members and their families enjoy will not be diminished. I hope the information proves helpful. As always, I appreciate your hard work and leadership.
Harold A. Schaitberger
NJ State Legislature Votes in Favor of A4265
With a recent Legislative Vote, the State Assembly and Senate went AGAINST the objections of the PFANJ and passed the Residency Bill (A4265), which would require all new fire fighters and police officers to reside in the town they are hired in for at least 5 years.
With the passage of this bill, it has been sent to the Governor's desk for his signature.
The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant was paying the salaries and benefits of 50 firefighters, but the city planned to lay off them and 35 others to help close a huge budget deficit.
But on Wednesday, June 24, 2015, the city was notified it received approval to expand the grant, which will pay for 84 firefighters. Another has retired, acting Fire Chief Vincent Granese said.
If the city had to lay off firefighters, it would have lost the entire grant, including money that paid for promotions to captain.
Granese estimates the current grant, which is from 2013, will now run out around Sept. 8. The city is awaiting news on a two-year extension that would kick in after this one runs out.
That news should come in August, Granese said.
“This will give us time to keep working with the mayor and the (business administrator) to make sure they do the right thing for the residents and visitors of Atlantic City on the $22 million grant application we are working on now,” fire union President Chris Emmell said in a statement.
The grant means the city will keep all 234 firefighters currently on the payroll.
Mayor Don Guardian previously said the city needs only 185 firefighters, according to three fire chiefs who looked at the numbers. The city has not released details of those studies.
But with the grant, the city will stay at the current number, with the aim to get down to 185 through attrition.
An Update From CSC - Civil Service Commission On The Entrance Testing Process
Applications for the New Jersey Civil Service Entry-Level Fire Fighter Examination are NOW available.
IAFF Priority Legislation To Become Law, Despite Hurdles
The U.S. Senate recently voted on final passage of IAFF priority legislation, H.R. 2146, the Defending Public Safety Employees Retirement Act. The bill, championed by Representatives Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), now heads to the president for his signature.
The passage of H.R. 2146 marks a significant victory for the IAFF and its members. The new law improves retirement security for fire fighters in two ways.
First, it allows federal fire fighters to take early withdrawals before age 59 ½ from their deferred compensation accounts, known as Thrift Savings Plans, without incurring the current 10 percent early withdrawal penalty.
Second, the law allows municipal fire fighters to roll over DROP funds into a deferred compensation arrangement, such as a 457 plan or 401(k)-style plan, without penalty.
“Passing the Defending Public Safety Employees Retirement Act will provide an immediate benefit for tens of thousands of fire fighters,” says General President Harold Schaitberger. “Getting this done eliminates real inequities in the law and provides the needed retirement security for our fire fighters.”
Congress Sets The Stage For Fight On Toxic Flame Retardant Laws
This week, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H.R. 2576, legislation to amend the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) by a vote of 398-1. The House vote sets the stage for action in the Senate on its version of TSCA reform, S. 697.
TSCA, which grants the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) license to take regulatory action to restrict chemicals in commerce, is largely viewed as out-of-date and ineffective. Given the weak federal law, fire fighters who are exposed to multiple toxic substances on a daily basis have taken the battle to the states, fighting to ban and regulate toxic chemicals such as flame retardants.
NJ AFL-CIO Won’t Give Up Pension Funding Fight Despite Budget Vetoes
Governor Slashes Pension Payment to Protect Millionaires Again
Gov. Christie had the opportunity to put the people of New Jersey before his own political ambitions by signing a budget that protects working families, funds public pensions according to the law and raises taxes on the wealthiest.
Instead, he slashed pension funding, wrongly labeled benefits as ‘bloated’ and blamed ‘a broken system’ rather than his own refusal to fund it.
Despite the governor’s rhetoric, New Jersey pensioners are NOT getting something for nothing. The state’s average pension benefit is among the least generous in the country – PERS ranks 95th in generosity out of the country’s 100 largest pension systems, according to a joint analysis by Keystone Research and New Jersey Policy Perspective. A NJ Spotlight study shows government workers in New Jersey pay more for health insurance than anywhere else in the country.
Christie’s budget shields the wealthy and businesses from any shared sacrifice while again hurting working families.
Everyone is obeying the pension reform law – except the governor who signed it! Retirees forfeited their cost-of-living increases, active employees saw their pension contributions rise by 36 percent to 7.5 percent of their pay, local governments have never skipped a payment, and the Legislature again passed a budget that includes the required pension payment.
We thank Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto for sending the governor a responsible, balanced budget that fulfilled the pension obligation. We wonder how a would-be presidential candidate can keep breaking his own pension law by skipping legally required payments.
We won’t be fooled again by the governor’s broken promises! We will do whatever it takes for however long it takes fully fund pensions.
NJ State AFL-CIO to Gov. Christie: Fund Pensions
New Jersey State AFL-CIO leadership were joined by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and the leaders of the largest public-sector unions on Thursday, June 25, 2015, to urge Gov. Christie to obey his own law by fully funding pensions.
Everyone is abiding by the pension reform law – except the governor who signed it. Retirees forfeited their cost-of-living increases, active employees are paying more, local governments have never skipped a payment and the Legislature has again drafted a budget that includes the entire amount of required pension funding. And now, while the governor continues to break his own pension law by skipping contractually required pension payments, he is calling for additional concessions for public workers.
Despite the governor’s rhetoric, New Jersey pensioners are NOT getting something for nothing. The state’s average pension benefit is among the least generous in the country (PERS ranks 95th in generosity out of the 100 largest pension systems), while government workers here pay more for health insurance than those in any other state.
The labor movement and the Democratic-led Legislature are united in their conviction that pensions must be funded according to the law. We commend Senate President Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Prieto for their continuing commitment to full pension funding. They not only drafted a budget that contains the full $3.1 billion pension payment, but also led the way on a supplemental appropriation that would pump $300 million in unanticipated additional revenue into the pension system for next year.
The results of the governor’s reckless disregard for the law and callous disrespect for pensioners are well-known: A record nine credit downgrades under his watch; a record $616 million in fees paid to Wall Street pension managers who performed no better than in-house money managers; his willingness to argue against his own law in the state’s highest court rather than honor the deal he signed and touted in a cross-country victory lap; and his total disregard for the long-term effects his selfish fiscal policies will have on the public and private sectors while he’s looking out only for his own future.
We will continue to fight for our pensioners and the future of the pension system – even if the governor who signed the law refuses to lead the way.
The conference kicks off with the Opening Plenary Session and an inspirational message on living with resilience through adverse circumstances, followed by two days of presentations on topic-specific issues concerning fire fighter occupational health and safety and EMS in the fire service, including:
Current Health and Safety Issues
Responding to Incidents of Violence
Fire Behavior and Safety Research
Fire and EMS Operations
Line-of-Duty Death Investigations
This biennial health, safety and EMS conference combines the expertise and knowledge from fire fighting and EMS operations into one innovative and comprehensive program devoted to protecting the health and safety of all IAFF members.
Fire fighters, paramedics, medical directors, physicians, occupational safety professionals, fire officers, local decision makers and fitness trainers are invited to attend the conference, which includes two days of plenary sessions and two days of topic-specific workshops, briefings and information sessions.
NJ.COM - June 9, 2015 - The state Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Gov. Chris Christie can slash billions of dollars in contributions from New Jersey's troubled public employee pension system.
The court's ruling caps an intense fight for pension funding and deals a major blow to the state's labor unions, who challenged Christie's spending cuts. Christie had sought to dismantle the pension law, which he argued was unconstitutional.
Judges split 5-2 reversing the lower court's ruling that ordered Christie had broken his own landmark pension law and had to work with the Legislature to comply with it.
"That the state must get its financial house in order is plain. The need is compelling in respect of the state's ability to honor its compensation commitment to retired employees," the court said. "But this court cannot resolve that need in place of the political branches. They will have to deal with one another to forge a solution to the tenuous financial status of New Jersey's pension funding in a way that comports with the strictures of our constitution."
"That the state must get its financial house in order is plain. The need is compelling in respect of the state's ability to honor its compensation commitment to retired employees," the court said. "But this court cannot resolve that need in place of the political branches. They will have to deal with one another to forge a solution to the tenuous financial status of New Jersey's pension funding in a way that comports with the strictures of our constitution."
Tuesday's much-anticipated ruling spares Christie from trying to scrape together $1.57 billion before the end of the current fiscal year in three weeks and billions more in future budgets.
Christie is in New Hampshire ahead of a widely expected run for president. In a statement, Christie called the decision "an important victory not only for our taxpayers who simply cannot afford these unsustainably high costs, but for limited, constitutional government that recognizes the proper role of the executive and legislative branches of government."
Hetty Rosenstein, state director of the Communications Workers of America, the largest state worker union, said the decision will not deter workers from trying to secure full funding.
"We will never move from that position, and we will fight wherever we have to," she said.
The lawsuit turned on whether the pension law created a contractual right to pension funding.
The court stopped short of calling the pension law unconstitutional, but said the law does not create a "legally binding, enforceable obligation" for the state to make payments into the system.
The 2011 pension law, which the governor called his "biggest governmental victory" and a "model for America" won Christie national attention and acclaim. He boasted the cuts to health and retirement benefits would save tens of billions of dollars over the coming decades by suspending cost-of-living adjustments and requiring workers to pay more for their benefits.
Christie partnered with Democratic leaders from both legislative houses to defeat New Jersey's powerful unions, who protested the far-reaching plan by the thousands, and the majority of Democratic lawmakers.
The law also gave workers a contractual right to pension funding, which the state had agreed to ramp up over seven years until reaching the full amount recommended by actuaries.
The administration's hope for a robust economic recovery didn't shake out, and the state didn't take in enough tax revenue to meet the payment schedule in the 2014, 2015 and so far, 2016 budgets.
The Supreme Court's decision strikes down a trial court ruling that Christie had breached workers' contractual rights when he slashed $1.57 billion from this year's budget.
Labor leaders said that money was deferred compensation owed to public workers who'd toiled away at unglamorous jobs for public sector wages.
Prior to the 2011 pension overhaul, most workers had a nonforfeitable right to their benefits, but not to the state's contributions. The bipartisan pension law was drafted to close that hole, forcing the state to keep up with payments and right a feeble retirement system.
Christie's administration had argued the pension law clashed with the appropriations and debt limitations clauses in the state constitution, saying that creating a contractual right to pension funding would bind the hands of future lawmakers and burden New Jerseyans with debt without their consent.
The court said Tuesday that the state cannot be bound to future payments without voter approval.
"Although plaintiffs correctly assert that a promise was made by the legislative and executive branches when enacting (the law), and morally their argument is unassailable, we conclude that (the law) could not create the type of legally enforceable contract that plaintiffs argue," according to the decision.
In the dissent, Justice Barry Albin and Chief Justice Stuart Rabner fault Christie for impairing workers' contractual rights in violation of the U.S. constitution. In addition, the ruling leaves public workers, who have been contributing more into the system under the law, "holding the bag," Albin wrote.
"The decision unfairly requires public workers to uphold their end of the law's bargain — increased weekly deductions from their paychecks to fund their future pensions — while allowing the state to slip from its binding commitment to make commensurate contributions."
From the PFANJ:
Although you have faithfully made you pension payments pay check after paycheck, month after month, year after year, the Supreme Court ruled against you today with a vote of 5 – 2 to not force Governor Christie and the State of New Jersey to make their required payment. We are disappointed with the disgraceful Supreme Court’s decision. We will continue to work with the other unions and those legislator’s that put forth legislation to require the Governor and State of New Jersey to fully fund the Pension.
Welcome to IAFF Dispatch
The IAFF is proud to release the premiere episode of IAFF Dispatch, a new bi-monthly video news magazine that will highlight the good work of the IAFF, our affiliates and members.
(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, John Wisniewski, Herb Conaway, Marlene Caride and Annette Quijano to help ensure medical coverage is not canceled abruptly for family members of deceased first responders was advanced by an Assembly panel on Thursday, March 19, 2015. The measure was inspired by the recent death of a Cinnaminson firefighter.
"Most of us go to work every day and never worry about whether we'll return home safely," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "For family members of first responders, this is a persistent fear every day. This is the least we can do to help honor the sacrifices their loved ones make day in and day out. Whether Lt. Hunter's death was a direct result of his official duties is immaterial given the constant sacrifices he made throughout his career."
Cinnaminson Fire Lt. Chris Hunter was found unresponsive at his home in mid-November, just hours after his last shift ended. The cause of death was attributed to a cardiac event. However, because it was ruled that he did not die in the line of duty, his family was not eligible for a continuation of medical coverage under his plan.
The bill (A4062) is designed to ensure a six-month continuation of family medical coverage for the spouse and dependents of a deceased police officer, firefighter or emergency medical technician who dies within 24 hours of going off duty. Under current law, the employee's family medical coverage terminates upon death because the employment was terminated.
The families of public safety officers who die in the line of duty are covered for medical insurance by other provisions of law. In order to ensure that the surviving spouse and dependents are not charged an excessive premium for the six-moth medical coverage extension, the bill requires the employer to negotiate an extended coverage provision with the medical insurance carrier.
"Firefighters and all others who willingly put themselves into dangerous situations sacrifice their personal health and wellbeing for the sake of their communities. That can often put a significant strain on their loved ones as well," said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), New Jersey Fire Safety Commission chair. "This legislation is about providing the families of emergency responders with some peace of mind."
"The men and women who protect New Jersey residents daily should never have to worry about whether their families would be secure in their absence," said Conaway (D-Burlington). "This measure will help ensure that family members in mourning can focus their attention on remembering their loved one, not navigating health insurance."
"Our public safety officers devote themselves to the safety of others," said Caride (D-Bergen / Passaic). "This bill will provide peace of mind to them and to their loved ones by eliminating the fear of a sudden cancellation of medical coverage. This is a well-deserved safety net for the families of those who serve our state."
"The cause of death – regardless of whether it's on- or off-duty – shouldn't overshadow a lifetime of self-sacrifice when it comes to New Jersey's public safety officers," said Quijano (D-Union). "This measure honors the courage of our state's most noble men and women by helping to ensure the wellness of their dependents."
The bill was advanced by the Assembly Labor Committee.
It’s been seven weeks since Cinnaminson firefighter Christopher Hunter died and his presence is still strongly felt throughout the department he served for more than 20 years.
“If it happened in this department he was involved in it and to try to bridge that gap has been a lot,” says Lt. Dean Jernigan.
Hunter’s wife has also had a lot to deal with including losing health insurance.
“She went to the doctor’s office with her son and found out that there was no health insurance,” says Danny Norman, president of the Burlington County Professional Fire Fighters Association.
On November 15th Lieutenant Hunter died at home from cardiac arrest after completing a shift.
Officials say because the 38-year-old died within 24 hours after a shift his death is considered “active duty” rather than in the line of duty.
His family has to pay $1,700 a month for COBRA coverage.
Hunter’s situation compelled New Jersey Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D- Mount Laurel) to file Bill A4062 which would allow families of firefighters, police and EMT’s who died on active duty to keep their health insurance for an extended period.
“When they get their health insurance a part of their negotiation is that they shall have a component of their health insurance that allows the continuation of coverage in active duty deaths for at least six months to allow folks some time to transition to get their own health insurance,” says Singleton.
This measure wouldn’t help Lt. Hunter’s family, but it could make a big difference for his co-workers and many first responders throughout New Jersey.
“If passed, I’m not going to see a benefit from it, but I want to make sure my kids are taken care of more than anything,” says Jernigan.
Singleton says the bill was filed in December and has not been assigned to a committee yet.
Anyone who would like to help Hunter’s family can donate to the Hunter Children Fund c/o the Cinnaminson Fire Department, 1725 Cinnaminson Ave, Cinnaminson, NJ 08077.
Feb 3, 2015 - It’s the loophole through which New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been flying on private jets.
Christie’s personal travel habits, detailed in a New York Times article include a preference for Cessna Citation X flights, Four Seasons stays and champagne toasts, are all legally consistent with his state’s code of conduct for governors – as long as everything is paid for by friends.
“The governor may accept gifts, favors, services, gratuities, meals, lodging or travel expenses from relatives or personal friends that are paid for with personal funds,” the code reads.
Lately, those friends include King Abdullah of Jordan, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Republican superdonor Sheldon Adelson – all with big pockets and big toys, like the private jet Adelson had him fly with his family on during a 2012 trip to Israel, at the same time Adelson was trying to defeat a measure to legalize online gambling in New Jersey (Christie later signed the bill anyway).
Christie also added a provision to the state’s financial disclosure laws in a 2010 executive order that expressly permits him to accept travel and related expenses from foreign governments.
Apparently he wants the public to believe that when it comes to pensions, the buck stops elsewhere.
That’s wrong and he knows it.
It was Christie who in 2011 signed a law dramatically overhauling New Jersey’s public pension system, increasing the out-of-pocket contributions from workers and mandating a seven-year schedule of state payments to get the system back in the black.
Since the 2011 signing, everyone has been doing their part to follow the law, except Christie. He has decided the state simply cannot afford to live up to the terms of the law he signed and has cut $1.6 billion from the state’s obligation of $2.25 billion for the current fiscal year.
At the same time, Christie has found plenty of room in the budget for massive tax breaks for corporations and lining the pockets of the Republican Governors Association. The governor’s misplaced priorities are making the pension problem worse and doing nothing to improve New Jersey’s economy.
But Christie loves a scapegoat and wants the public to think firefighters, police officers and teachers are to blame for the pension problems, while he is the one shortchanging the bill. He wants the public to think these hard-working public employees don’t deserve a secure retirement.
The governor can point fingers all he wants, but it will likely be up to a court to sort through Christie’s smoke-and-mirrors approach to pensions. Three of the state’s largest pension funds are suing Christie and his administration for failing to make the legally required payments to the pensions.
According to Standard and Poor’s, the problem with the pension is not public employees and not the economy. It’s Christie not paying his bill. This from the ratings agency: “The long-term impact of continuation of a funding policy that allows the State to contribute less than the actuarially recommended contribution could impact, at some point, the Pension Plans’ ability to meet their obligations absent significant additional contributions by the State, increased investment returns, or actions or events resulting in reductions to liabilities of the Pension Plans.”
Firefighters and other public employees have been protesting the lack of required pension payments by the state for years. But we have always been told that the system was well managed and the strength of the markets would make up the difference. And, when dire predictions and alarms were issued by, among others, former State Treasurer Richard Leone in 1995, they too were dismissed.
Then in 1996 the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey, New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police and other public worker organizations filed a lawsuit on behalf of our workers concerning the default of pension payments required by the State and local municipalities. That lawsuit took many years to work its way through the court system, after many delays by the State of New Jersey. Finally the court ruled that although the proper pension payments were not being made, because no worker was yet denied a pension, there was no actual harm. The lawsuit was thus dismissed.
Currently, two of the three required contributors to the pension funds are fulfilling their obligations. Local governments have made their full required contributions, more than $1.4 billion according to the recent State bond filing. In fact, they’ve contributed twice as much as the state even though New Jersey owes more than twice as much as the local governments.
And of course, we fire fighters, police officers, and other state workers are contributing 100 percent of what we are required to. This is all that’s holding the pension system stable. That and the exponential increase of management fees also passed on to worker. The system boasts a net gain on the investments over the first 10 months of 2014 of 6.88 percent, right on target.
Clearly, if New Jersey had paid its full payments into its police and fire pension fund, instead of constantly skipping payments, the fund would be in substantially better shape. It should be obvious by now to everyone that Governor Christie is not interested in fixing the pension funding.
Any future schemes that include cutting benefits for firefighters and police officers are irresponsible. Firefighters and police officers are not eligible for Social Security Benefits; our pensions are all we have to retire on. Continually pointing fingers at firefighters and police officers and attempting to bully them will not solve the problems.
It is time for Christie to stop passing the buck and start paying his pension bill.
Dominick Marino is President of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey.
IAFF Calls Out Looters Of Public Pensions
Across America, state budgets are being balanced on the backs of current and former public employees by breaking commitments to fund their defined-benefit retirement plans. Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) is the latest to go this route, recently warning his state’s fire fighters, police officers, teachers and other public employees that he’ll propose skipping a couple (more) yearly installments against the state’s pension liability due to an unexpected revenue shortfall.
The Truth About Arbitration
Many politicians, local and state, want everyone to believe that binding arbitration is the reason local property taxes are high, when this simply is not true. Not daunted by the truth, the Governor and his allies are pushing for changes to binding arbitration that will reduce public safety, that will end innovative and cooperative approaches and will not save money nor preserve public safety and it certainly will not reduce your property taxes.
The truth is that arbitration is rarely used in the firefighter world as approximately 10% of the firefighter contracts over the last five years have been arbitrated and not negotiated. The truth is that binding arbitration exists because firefighters are not permitted by law to strike. When management and the bargaining group cannot agree on a contract, they must resort to binding arbitration, which is expensive for both management and labor. If these changes were instituted, more contracts would end in arbitration. This would increase the cost to local taxpayers not decrease it.
The push for these changes is a way to change the subject when the unpleasant truth is that the Governor is balancing the State’s budget on the backs of local property taxpayers by reducing aid to municipalities and school districts by more than $1.2 billion dollars in the current budget year. These cuts, and not arbitration, will raise your taxes and reduce your safety and quality of life.
Monday, March 31, 2014
To All PFANJ Members,
The existing arbitration law will expire as of midnight tonight. The Governor vetoed the compromised bill minutes after it was put on his desk. The Senate agreed with his CV and voted to approve the changes in the bill. The Assembly as of this point has not agreed and does not plan on taking up the Governors CV.
Here is what is at stake:
The new law would have changed the process of choosing an arbitrator from a random to each party submitting three names of arbitrators from the special panel and if none of the names submitted were the same, the random process would then be used. If more than one name were the same the commission would then randomly choose from those names. THE GOVERNOR REMOVED THIS LANGUAGE AND REVERTED BACK TO THE RANDOM PROCESS
The new law would have changed the “base” salary meaning to not include non-salary economic issues, pension and health and medical insurance costs. THE GOVERNOR REMOVED THIS LANGUAGE AND REVERTED BACK TO THE OLD MEANING.
The new law would have included in the base salary the savings’ realized by a public employer as of result of: (1) increased employee contributions toward health and medical insurance premiums occurring in the fourth year, except if the increase in the employee contributions toward health and medical insurance premiums are not in the fourth year at the time of the new collective bargaining agreement, base salary shall include the savings realized in the most recent year of implementation of increased employee contributions toward health and medical insurance premiums; and (2) a reduction in force which occurred prior to the expiration of the collective negotiations agreement. In the case of savings realized by a public employer under paragraphs (1) or (2) of this subsection, an arbitrator may render an award which increases base salary items by more than 2.0 percent, but not more than 3.0 percent. THE GOVERNOR REMOVED THIS LANGUAGE AND REVERTED BACK TO THE OLD MEANING!
THE GOVERNOR INSERTED LANGUAGE TO ESTABLISH “ANOTHER” TASK FORCE TO DO ANOTHER STUDY!
The new law would have exempted those contracts that otherwise meet the criteria set forth in the old law from the provisions of the new law when negotiating a future contract. THE GOVERNOR REMOVED THIS LANGUAGE AND REVERTED BACK TO THE OLD LAW WHICH WOULD KEEP IN FORCE THE 2% CAP.
Update on COLA Court Case - 1/28/2014
Today James Mets ESQ. appeared as counsel for PFANJ in challenging the cessation of COLA before the Appellate Division in Berg v. State. Because of the large number of attorneys involved in this matter, the primary responsibility for presenting the argument rested on Kenneth Nowak of Zazzali Fagella and Ira Mintz of Weisman and Mintz. The parties agreed that presenting redundant arguments would only serve to annoy the Appellate Division Judges. In this regard, we intended to present only supplemental argument to what Mr. Mintz and Mr. Nowak presented if necessary.
The Judges made it very clear at the argument today that after Mr. Mintz and Mr. Nowak argued on behalf of all the union plaintiffs, no additional argument was necessary or needed. Based on the demeanor of the judges and the fact that any argument we could have made would have been cumulative rather than supplemental, our attorney elected to rely on what was presented as well as what was contained in the briefs presented on behalf of all union plaintiffs. (Indeed, the Judges did get annoyed when an attorney for the interveners insisted on presenting argument that was cumulative and cut off the argument rather quickly.)
The Judges were very interested in our arguments regarding whether the elimination of the COLA by Chapter 78 violates the Contracts Clause of the Federal and State Constitutions. This issue was never addressed at the trial court level, because the trial court Judge decided the case on other constitutional grounds. It is the attorneys’ opinion that based on the Judges questioning and interest in this issue, it is likely for the Judges to issue a decision remanding this matter back to the trial court for consideration of the Contracts Clause issue.
In addition, the Court requested that the parties submit supplemental briefs regarding the issue of whether or not the COLA amendments of 1997 have any relationship to the Internal Revenue Code. Our attorney will submit a brief on behalf of the PFANJ and Teamsters Local 97 (President John Gerow). Our brief is due two weeks from today. The State’s opposition brief is due two weeks from the day our brief is due. While our attorney cannot predict, it is his hope that the Appellate Division issues a quick decision after it receives the supplemental briefs.
Grant Applicants: Get Bid Specifications Ready Early
Review your grant application's requirements and get your bid specifications ready now. If you receive an award, this early preparation will help you to implement your grant as soon as possible and help ensure you are able to complete your project within the period of performance.
Start to draft a bid solicitation that encourages competition by not using proprietary vendor specifications. By avoiding the use of proprietary vendor specifications, you encourage competition, which may decrease your overall costs. For example, you can request bids for a new pumper and specify that it have an "independent front suspension." But specifying that the pumper have a particular name-brand independent front suspension would be a proprietary specification that would limit competition to those vendors that build trucks containing those particular items.
Avoid any real or apparent conflicts of interest in your procurements. Remember that no employee, officer, or agent of your organization, who has a real or even apparent conflict of interest (potential for personal gain), may participate in the selection of the contractor or vendor that will supply the grant-funded items or services. They cannot accept gifts, favors, or anything of monetary value from potential contractors.
Maintain written procurement procedures. Become familiar with and keep on file the written procurement procedures and standards for your organization. If you are unsure, check with your local or state government for procedures. All grantees must have procurement procedures that follow local or state procurement procedures AND meet Federal procurement law as outlined in 44 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 13.36.
Have a record system set up for the grant. Make sure that you have system established that will maintain your grant records accurately and securely while still being accessible. All Federal awards are subject to a possible audit or desk review.
The law is widely viewed as the most historic overhaul of the U.S. health care system since the inception of Medicare and Medicaid.
While the law’s primary goal is to increase the number of insured Americans, there are other provisions within the law that also have implications for IAFF members.
In order to help IAFF members better understand the law the IAFF has developed a What You Need to Know About the Affordable Care Act online resource of information, including an overview of the Affordable Care Act, answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs), an educational video about the ACA, strategies on negotiating health care and links to both government and industry sources such Healthcare.gov, the AFL-CIO and the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Links to the NJ Division of Pensions and Benefits Health Benefits Handbooks may be found here
In the NJ Direct Handbook those preventative services which are mandated by the National Health Reform to be covered without co-payment are listed on pages 76, 77, and 81.
NJ State Health Benefits Mobile Phone Applications Aetna, CIGNA, and Horizon have developed applications for the iPhone, smartphones, and other web-enabled mobile devices to provide State Health Benefits Program (SHBP) members with plan information "on the go."
Medco Health Solutions, Inc. has also developed the Medco Pharmacy mobile app for its Prescription Plan, now available at no cost on BlackBerry® and Android™ smartphones using the Verizon Wireless network.
CHAPTER 330 RETIREES
Firefighters represented by the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey strongly disagree with the governor’s agenda and his decisions because they threaten public safety.
The governor failed to take advantage of a federal grant program that would improve public safety and create jobs.
While the governor argues forcefully that he is doing what’s best for New Jersey residents, the reality is that he continues to do what’s best for himself, using his so-called reforms to promote himself on a national stage.
He also is spreading misinformation.
In his speech last week, the governor took credit for the improved funding level of the Police and Firemen Retirement System in New Jersey. But the reason the PFRS pension fund is doing better is because local municipalities are finally meeting their financial obligations and paying what they are required to pay into the system – just as the firefighters in this state have always done.
He also inferred that when the state pension funds reach 80 percent a state-established board of government officials and firefighters can vote to raise annual cost of living adjustments to pensions. While that’s technically possible – and would be a welcome change – it has not happened, and benefits won’t increase until harsh restrictions on the state board are loosened.
The governor shouldn't take credit for something he didn't’t do, but that hasn't’t stopped him in the past. Once again, the governor’s statements need careful fact-checking. Once again, his credibility has been damaged because he has climbed atop his bully pulpit to spread falsehoods.
He is not our state’s savior. He is merely a politician angling for his next job in public office – and he has a public employee pension, too.
Rather than constantly oppose public employees or hammer away at our rights and benefits, the governor should sit down with us to discuss public safety and the wages, rights and benefits of those sworn to protect communities throughout our state. But to this day the governor still has not met with the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey.
And that’s no lie.
NJTV Interview with PFANJ President Marino -
October 2, 2012
To All IAFF Local Leaders:
Contact Information for IAFF 1st District Vice
(631) 893-9116 (Office)
(917) 834-1414 (Cell) email@example.com
Talking points with respect to S1913 and A3074:
The biggest point is that the legislature should reverse the Richardson Case from 2007. This case changed the criteria for what constitutes an accidental disability thus opening the door for a much easier avenue for members of a pension system to claim a job related disability.
If this were to be repealed, it would go a long way to correcting the issues with the disability pensions.
Other areas of issue:
1. A committee of 26 will not get anything done! Each system already has a board that oversees the system, there is no need to add an additional board.
2. Each system should be responsible for themselves. PERS should not be determining a disability pension for PFRS and likewise.
3. Any reference to Social Security Benefits must be removed, since Firefighters do not pay into social security therefore are not eligible to receive social security benefits.
4. Changing the eligibility years from 4 to 10 for an ordinary disability does a disservice to the firefighter workforce. If a member suffers an injury with prior to completing 10 years and it is not a traumatic injury that member would get no pension. Our profession puts us at harms way every time we go to work. The legislation should not change the number of years.
5. Reducing the disability pension of a firefighter who is no longer able to perform firefighting duties because he or she was able to supplement their income in other ways is disrespectful and unwarranted.
It's a slap in the face to those dedicated firefighters who were injured while serving the public because this legislation would decrease their disability pension if they were to go out and get extra income to provide for their families.
6. The one size fits all about the legislation is wrong. A firefighter or EMS workers level of risk is much greater than a teacher or office worker. The Pension systems must be treated different and separate. If our job functions weren't different, there wouldn't be different systems.
To NJ PERC Constituents, Labor Relations Professionals and Interested
Parties: PERC has modified the Unfair Practice Charge Form, and asks parties to utilize the new form immediately. The changes to the form include hyperlinks, space for a second respondent, and details about the status of negotiations, if any. Additionally, the form seeks more specific information about matters at PERC or other forums that are based upon the same facts alleged in the charge. We hope the new form will expedite
processing of charges.
here for a downloadable and printable IAFF document
and Demonstration of Interest"
for those individuals wishing to learn
and affiliate with the International Association of Fire Fighters...
Kindly fill out the form and then mail it to the
State Association Office