Association of Fire Fighters State Association
on the Front Line Protecting "New Jersey's Bravest"-- --Established 1929--
of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO
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representing the interests and concerns of New Jersey's Bravest and their loved
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Pensions Haunt Christie 4 Years After Being ‘Fixed’
Four years ago, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey signed bipartisan legislation to overhaul public employee pensions and declared he had “fixed” the problem that was crushing state and local governments across the country with enormous debts. He held up New Jersey as a model.
On February 24, 2015, he was back at the State House in Trenton talking about public employee pensions, pushing again “a bipartisan solution” that he vowed would be a “national model” to “once and for all fix this problem.”
The broad outlines of his plan, like his language, were much the same as what he signed in 2011 — public employees will give up benefits, the state will promise to make full payments into the pension system.
“We will not push this off,” he declared. “We will not leave it for another day, for another year, for another generation.”
The fact that he was making essentially the same case about public pensions that he had four years ago demonstrated just how this topic, once something Mr. Christie trumpeted as a great success, has become more of an albatross — and one that will not go away. And it was only made worse by a ruling the night before by a judge who said the governor had indeed pushed off the problem and had violated the law by failing to make the payments he had promised in 2011.
The judge ruled that public employee unions had a constitutionally protected contractual right to those payments. That ruling on Monday, February 23rd led to a chaotic day on Tuesday, as Mr. Christie gave his annual budget address. Contradictions abounded
Today, the Honorable Mary C. Jacobson, A.J.S.C. granted the Plaintiffs motion for summary judgment in Burgos v. State of New Jersey. This case was filed by a coalition of public sector unions in response to Governor Christie's failure to make the full amortization payment to the pension funds in both fiscal year 2014 and fiscal year 2015, despite the requirement that he do so set forth in
P.L. 2011, c. 78. (Chapter 78). The Court took the Governor to task, stating: "the Court cannot allow the State to 'simply walk away from its financial obligations,' especially when those obligations were the State's own creation."
The Court determined that the State's failure to make the full amortization payment as part of its contribution to the pension system for fiscal year 2015 as required by N.J.S.A. 43:3C-
9.5 (which was amended as part Chapter 78), impairs the Plaintiffs rights under the Contracts Clause of the New Jersey Constitution. As a result, the Court directed the Defendants, including Governor Chris Christie and Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff to work with the Legislature to satisfy this obligation. In addition, the Court ordered that Plaintiffs be reimbursed for attorneys' fees and costs.
This is an important win for public employees throughout the State. Defendants have forty-five (45) days to determine if they will appeal this decision.
The company has received 11 reports of extinguishers failing to discharge, but no injuries have been reported.
The recall includes 31 models of the extinguishers with Zytel black plastic valves. They are red, white or silver, and either ABC or BC rated.
The extinguishers were sold at retail stores and online from August 2013 through November 2014 for $18 to $200. They were manufactured in Mexico from July 23, 2013, through October 15, 2014, and imported by Walter Kidde Portable Equipment Co. of Mebane, North Carolina.
Consumers can contact Kidde for a replacement at 855-283-7991, or online at www.kidde.com.
NJ AFL-CIO Supports Concept of
Patient-Centered Health Care
After briefing the New Jersey State AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions on Thursday, February 12, 2015, Senate President Stephen Sweeney unveiled plans to pilot a new, patient-centered health care delivery system in select regions of the state.
The new model, endorsed by International labor unions and doctors alike, has been implemented for public-sector workers throughout the country, where it has been shown to trim health care costs while improving patients’ experiences with their doctors. Private companies such as IBM, Johnson & Johnson and Kaiser Permanente have also adopted the model.
Senate President Sweeney’s plan is still in the conceptual stage, but it compliments organized labor’s ongoing efforts to explore options for lowering health care costs without sacrificing patient care for our members. Two public employee design committees will be tasked with crafting the plan. The pilot program will enroll a maximum of 60,000 volunteer employees in northern, central and southern New Jersey. The results will be assessed after three years.
Like the Senate president, we recognize that runaway health care costs must be tamed. We also know there are proven ways to save the taxpayers on health care without reducing patient services or limiting care delivery. We agree with Senate President Sweeney on the concept of establishing a voluntary, patient-centered pilot program, and look forward to working with the health care design committees in crafting the details of this new program.
The following labor leaders attended the press conference: Donna Chiera, AFT; Sherryl Gordon, AFSCME; Dominick Marino, IAFF; Patrick Nolan, AAUP-AFT; Jean Pierce, HPAE; Hetty Rosenstein, CWA; Charles Wowkanech, NJ State AFL-CIO; Patrick Colligan, PBA; Davy Jones, STFA; Sean Spiller, NJEA; and Abdur Yasin, FMBA.
Stonewalled by the Christie administration, media outlets have been forced to sue to obtain even routinely disclosed information, such as payroll data. Rather than release documents connected to the George Washington Bridge scandal, pay-to-play allegations, possible ethics violations, and the out-of-state jaunts Christie has made while weighing a run for president, Christie's office and several state agencies have waged costly court battles. As the 2016 presidential primary race draws closer, and Christie considers jumping in, his administration is fighting 23 different open-records requests in court.
That's not surprising. The man is not doing his job, and the state is a mess. He was absent one-third of the time last year, and this year is shaping up to be even worse. Most of us would get fired if we did that.
The twist now is that even Republicans are turning on him, a first. In the latest poll, from Monmouth University, about half of them said they would vote for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush over Christie. And nearly 60 percent said the recent London trip was a campaign stop, not an honest attempt to promote trade. Ouch.
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.
When Gov. Chris Christie praised himself during the State of the State address for making the largest contributions to the State pension funds of any governor in New Jersey history, that statement was true, but not accurate.
While Gov. Christie has contributed $2.9 billion (if he makes the reduced $681 million payment for FY2015), what he fails to be clear about is that he will have skipped $14.9 billion in required pension payments during the past five years as Governor, according to his own Pension & Health Benefit Study Commission's Status Report.
Former Gov. Corzine made $2.1 billion in pension payments while skipping an additional $6.4 billion required from 2007 to 2010.
In fact, Gov. Christie's $14.9 billion skipped pension payments eclipses the $12.8 billion combined missed payments of his five predecessors over a 15-year period from 1996 to 2010. That was a pretty important fact that he omitted from his State of the State address.
For the last three years Gov. Christie has traveled the country congratulating himself for his 2011 bipartisan pension reforms, including prominently mentioning it during his keynote address for Mitt Romney at the 2012 Republican National Convention. He then failed to follow through on making the required payments.
The U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey has interviewed former Hunterdon County Assistant Prosecutor Bennett Barlyn, who claims he was fired because he objected to Christie officials dismissing indictments against political allies of the governor. Barlyn confirmed the investigation to ABC News. It was first reported by the International Business Times.
All PFANJ Members:
One of our own needs our help.
IAFF Local 290 Woodbridge Firefighters suffered a family loss this past December 27th.
Firefighter Michael Mastanduno's wife Jung was home with him and their 2 kids when he found her unresponsive, she was just 38 years old.
He as well as other members of the local attempted to revive her and she was transported to the hospital. She was revived numerous times but sadly could not be saved. She succumbed to a brain aneurysm.
Brother Mastanduno is now raising their children; Brianna 7 and Brenivan 5, by himself.
Local 290 member Ryan Horvath has started a "Go Fund Me" page for a college fund for the kids. One of Jung's biggest priorities was to make sure her children received the best education they could. The link is http://www.gofundme.com/kkn39o .
Please share the story and the link to gain as much support as possible for our IAFF Local 290 brother and his family.
The application period for Fiscal Year 2014 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants opens February 9, 2015, and closes March 6, 2015, at 5:00 p.m. (EDT).
The IAFF produced this video to assist departments with the application process.
The IAFF urges affiliates to work with their fire chiefs and local lawmakers to file for the grants. City management must submit the application, but the IAFF is available to assist fire department in applying for the grants. Municipalities with fire departments facing reduced emergency response capabilities can apply for SAFER funding, as well as departments that need to hire additional personnel to meet national standards for safe staffing.
Administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), SAFER has put thousands of fire fighters back to work, giving a much-needed boost to public safety in countless struggling communities. More than $340 million is available for FY 2014 grants.
The FY 2014 SAFER grant Guidance and Application Kit is posted on the Assistance to Firefighters web site. FEMA will also be posting a Get Ready Guide to help with the application process. All SAFER applicants should read the Guidance to fully understand the FY 2014 award criteria, funding priorities and important special application instructions for completing the application.
The IAFF Grants Administration Department is available to assist IAFF affiliates and their fire departments through the application process. To request a review of an application for feedback and comments prior to submission, affiliates can send their completed application, including both the data entry and narrative portions, to the IAFF Grants Administration Department.
For more information, contact the IAFF Grants Administration Department at (202) 824-1575 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s a system that Gov. Chris Christie, in his State of the State address last week, called “an insatiable beast.”
In boom years, New Jersey leaders shortchanged the pension system, and those “sins of the past,” Christie said, “have made the system unaffordable.”
Fully funding the pension system this fiscal year would cost $3.9 billion, but Christie cut the pension payment to just $700 million to balance the budget — a move that landed him in court, battling an attempt by unions to force him to pay more.
Union leaders accuse the governor of going back on his word to have the state make full payments in exchange for higher contributions from workers. It’s a hot issue in Trenton made even bigger with Christie considering a White House run.
Missing from the article is that fire and police NEVER missed a payment! We always paid the required amount every paycheck, without fail!
The system consists of five separate and distinct parts. In addition to the Police and Fireman’s Retirement System (PFRS), school employees are members of the Teachers Pension and Annuity Fund (TPAF), Troopers are members of the State Police Retirement System (SPRS), judges are members of the Judicial Retirement System (JRS) and all other public employees are members of the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). Each system has specific funding formulas and retirement benefits.
In 2011, the Legislature enacted Chapter 78, which consisted of reforms to all five parts of the pension system. Among those reforms included higher contributions from employees, reductions to benefits for active and future employees and the elimination of cost-of-living adjustments (COLA).
Another important piece of the legislation was the creation of local and state distinctions between the systems. What that means is firefighters, police, EMTs, dispatchers and other local government employees do not receive funding from the state for their pensions; they rely solely on payments from the employees and their municipalities. Local government budgets fund the employer portion of the system.
Currently, the police and fire (PFRS) system is funded to 77 percent. Actuaries consider 80 percent to be healthy. Since 2010, PFRS members contribute 10 percent of their salary toward their pension, which is an increase from 8.5 percent. No other workers covered by the New Jersey public employee pension system contributes to that level.
Unfortunately, the state has continued its actuarial practice of using the increased contributions of career firefighters and police officers to offset other items in the state budget outside of the pension fund. Last year, more than $54 million of increased employee contributions were pilfered from the PFRS system.
The police and fire pension system’s unique characteristics must be considered. PFRS is funded at a higher level, because municipalities and police and firefighters have been contributing their share. The other four parts of the pension system, however, require the state to contribute to them, but it has continuously shortchanged them.
Local governments are making their payments. If the monies from the system stay in the system and strict funding practices are followed, our system will grow even stronger and healthier without further amendments or restructuring. Why would we restructure part of a system that is working?
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.
Currently the program is available in the following 12 counties: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren.
Firefighter Daughter in Need
Dawn is the daughter of deceased Newark, NJ Firefighter Joe Alfano.
She is 45 years old and has been diagnosed as having Lymphoma B with tumors on her lung and pancreas. Her health insurance company recently went bankrupt and has failed to pay most of her medical expenses. She is also in need of a hospital bed as she cannot lie flat due to the location of the tumors and has difficulty breathing, and sleeping. She is on oxygen now and being evaluated, and tested, for a treatment regiment. We ask that all of our fellow Firefighter families, and friends, do what they can to help her mom, Jeanie Alfano, through this very difficult time.
Whatever you can spare will be greatly appreciated.
The 2015 Conference will include one of the nation’s first Presidential Forums featuring prospective 2016 presidential candidates from both political parties. Members will hear directly from candidates for the nation’s highest office – without the spin and without the filter.
In addition to this exciting political event, members will learn more about IAFF priority legislation and have the opportunity to advocate directly with legislators.
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 Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey has Teamed up with Operation Warm!
Through this invaluable partnership, Professional Firefighters across the state of New Jersey are expanding Operation Warm’s mission.
Your contribution will help them provide the gift of warmth to
less-fortunate children in the communities they protect.
Help us provide new winter coats to New Jersey children in need.
There are a number of PFANJ locals from all across the state are participating in Operation Warm. You may donate to their page or to the PFANJ page. All money collected from the PFANJ page gets divided amongst the PFANJ locals participating.
Support jobs in the USA.
Help the PFANJ and its locals provide new winter coats to those children in need.
Please Click on the Link below to donate www.operationwarm.org/pfanj
Interested locals can contact our New Jersey rep, Laura Wisneski at email@example.com or 610.388.2500 x117.
Enjoy Military-Friendly Services and Reduced Tuition
Kaplan University, along with the IAFF, is proud to support our military and veterans in their educational pursuits by offering various military-friendly services and significantly reduced tuition:
All undergraduate program tuition is reduced up to 38 percent for veterans*
Specially trained Military Student Support Center
Award of credit for prior learning and military training†
Kaplan University is accredited, online and a member of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC).‡
For U.S.- and Canada-based members who are not in the military, you can still qualify for a significant tuition reduction rate of $210 per credit for any undergraduate fire science degree program from our U.S.-based university.*
Choose from more than 180 programs. Click here or contact an admissions advisor at 866.583.6765 (toll free) for more
F.I.E.R.O. PPE Symposium
March 16-18, 2015
Raleigh, North Carolina
Want to learn more about the PPE you wear, maintain and manage?
The Fire Industry Equipment Research Organization (F.I.E.R.O.) Fire PPE Symposium, scheduled for March 16-18, 2015, in Raleigh, North Carolina, is the premier educational event on PPE.
The three-day conference includes education sessions, networking and exhibits. In addition, the F.I.E.R.O. Symposium will feature a tour of Textile Protection and Comfort Center (a.k.a. T-PACC) at North Carolina State University's College of Textiles. T-PACC is one of the world's premier research and testing facilities for fire fighter PPE. Attendees will see the testing equipment used to determine NFPA compliance, as well as other equipment used in PPE product development.
In 2010 the State Legislature with the approval of Governor Christie committed to
make pension contributions on behalf of the members of this Fund.
When this commitment was made, the firefighters and police officers were mandated to pay more into their pensions.
The firefighters and police officers have paid the higher costs, faithfully since it was mandated and have ALWAYS made their required payments. Unfortunately the State hasn't.
Instead of doing so, recently the Governor has declared that he would cut the promised contributions in violation of the contractual and legal rights of each member of this Fund. This will have the devastating effect of the loss of investment return on the required contributions.
As fiduciaries to this Fund, the PFRS board of trustees exercised their obligation to protect the trust and the rights of the members who are going to collect pensions from it.
I commend the PFRS board of trustees for voting today to protect the solvency of the PFRS Fund and its future, by commencing litigation to require the government to make the legally mandated contributions to this Fund.
Update on the Pension Payment Shortages by the Governor with His 2014 and Budgeted 2015 Numbers:
A meeting was held on Tuesday June 3rd, late afternoon with the NJEA and CWA attorneys. Besides the PFANJ, the following unions were in attendance; CWA, AFSCME, IFPTE, AFT, NJEA. The FOP were not present, but are on board. We had the Democratic Senate and Assembly Chiefs of staff in attendance. They discussed the budget and it’s shortfalls and listened to our comments and suggestions. We again got a commitment from the Senate COS that the Senate President is still committed to put the required funding in the budget and also the revenue sources where it should come from, but that the Governor will undoubtedly line item veto it and remove both from the budget.
We also offered the following to the Democratic Senate and Assembly COS’s:
Recoup a portion of the billions of dollars in corporate welfare by enacting a corporate business tax.
Reinstate the tax rate on millionaires which expired.
Mandate quarterly pension payments
End the treasurers ability to change actuarial assumptions after they have been approved for the fiscal year.
As you know, we had sent out via all our social media; email, Facebook, twitter and our mobile APP, to have everyone (active and retired) send letters to the pension board through the website the NJEA designed for all unions to use, to demand that their respective pension board take action.
At last count that I am aware of there were over 23,000 letters generated for the TPA, which were delivered Thursday at the TPA pension board meeting. Thursday was the first meeting of one of the pension systems, the TPA – Teachers. The teachers do not have a “majority” on the Pension board so they will have a more difficult time in getting the board to “move” on it. Unfortunately, the board voted 2-2. The motion with the TPA failed.
The next one up is the PFRS, ours on Monday June 9th and at last count there were over 6,000 letters generated which we will be delivering on Monday to the board. For all intents and purpose we do believe that a “majority” of members should vote in favor of hiring an independent council to demand that the governor pay the proper amount for 2014 and budget the proper amount for 2015, but you never know. We have two members, a PBA and an PFANJ/IAFF, on the board who can present to the board the request in writing and we will also hand deliver the 6,000+ letters.
We also had a lengthy discussion as to filing a suit against the Governor and State and how to go about it. It was agreed by all in the room that we would do this jointly! The NJEA and CWA attorneys would be the “lead” attorneys and they would keep all the unions attorneys in the loop. We also would invite all the other unions to join the “united unions” suit. We are attacking this on two fronts, one – interim relief because of the harm it does to the pension systems and through the normal system because the Governor is breaking the law. This suit is expected to be dropped on Monday, June 9th.
Available for Download HERE for Apple and iPad Devices
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 Lawsuit on Health Care Cost and Final Compensation Determination 2/4/2014
To all members:
The following is an update on our lawsuit against the state with respect to P.L. 2010,c.2:
On January 31, 2014, the Appellate Division issued a decision in Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey, Teamsters Local 97, NJ Fraternal Order of Police, NJ State PBA, FMBA and the NJEA v. State of New Jersey, et. als. These cases challenged Judge Feinberg’s January 20, 2011 decision granting the State’s motion to dismiss the Complaints challenging the imposition of P.L. 2010 c.1,2 and 3; 1.5% contribution for Health Care, change in definition of final compensation for pension purposes
The Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s decision and dismissed the Complaints.
Our next available avenue for appeal is to the New Jersey Supreme Court. The New Jersey Supreme Court only hears a small number of cases each year. It can, and does, refuse to hear most cases that are brought before it. We will be evaluating with Teamster Local 97 President, whether or not we should appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court. We will keep you updated.
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) firstname.lastname@example.org
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