September 29, 2016
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International Association of Fire Fighters State Association

--Always on the Front Line Protecting "New Jersey's Bravest"--
--Established 1929--

Member of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO

Welcome to the home page of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey, proudly representing the interests and concerns of New Jersey's Bravest and their loved ones.

We encourage our membership to periodically, if not several times daily, review the contents of this web site and it's various departments, in order to remain up to date and conversant on the issues facing our profession in the 21st century.

In the event you need more specific or additional information, we further encourage you to submit your inquiry or commentary via e-mail to pfanj@pfanj.org. We will endeavor to provide any needed information or address any concern in a timely manner.



Make Your Voice Heard:

What's New at the PFANJ:

Our thoughts and prayers are with our brothers and sisters from Wilmington Firefighter's Association - IAFF Local 1590 who lost two members on the morning of September 24, 2016 and others are in critical condition. Please keep the families of the fallen and those in the hospital in your thoughts and prayers.Senior Firefighter Jerry Fickes' public Viewing will be held on Thursday, September 29, 2016 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church, 2033 Graves Road, Hockessin, Delaware 19707, (302) 239-6481. The Funeral Service will be held on Friday, September 30, 2016 at 4:00 p.m. at the same location.

Lieutenant Chris Leach's Viewing will be held on Friday September 30, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church, 809 S. Broom Street, Wilmington, Delaware 19805, (302) 652-3626. The Funeral Mass will follow at 12 noon at the same location.

A Public Memorial Service in honor of Brothers Leach and Fickes will be held on Saturday, October 1, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. at the Chase Center on the Riverfront, 815 Justison Street, Wilmington, Delaware 19801, (302) 425-3929.

Expressions of sympathy or condolences for the family or the local can be sent to IAFF Local 1590, 804 Maryland Avenue, Wilmington, DE 19805-4835


Nearly 10,000 Bottles of Eyewash Recalled, FDA Announced
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that Honeywell is voluntarily recalling one production lot of 32-ounce bottles of Eyesaline Eyewash solution, which is used for emergency eye rinsing after an injury.


NJ Firefighters’ Union Casts Garrett Aside in 2016 Endorsements
One of New Jersey’s most influential unions is weighing in on this presidential cycle’s congressional and statewide races. The Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey announced its endorsements Tuesday, endorsing a long line of incumbents along with one Democratic newcomer.

The group, which represents professional firefighters and emergency medical personnel, and is affiliated with the International Association of Fire Fighters, is giving its blessing to Josh Gottheimer, who is running a competitive congressional campaign against incumbent Scott Garrett. Gottheimer has been the surprise fundraising success story among this year’s crop of new congressional candidates.

The union announced its effort to unseat Garrett earlier this year, saying in an official announcement that Garrett’s vote against funding for fire fighters had cost him their support.


PFANJ Endorsements for the Upcoming November Elections

At the regular scheduled September meeting of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey, the Delegates and members in attendance made the following endorsements for the upcoming November 2016 elections.  The individuals chosen by the delegates were chosen based on their position of the issues that are most important to the firefighters, emergency medical personnel and supports service members of the PFANJ.

For President of the United States

NO Endorsement

For United States House of Representatives

DISTRICT  1

DISTRICT 7

Donald W. Norcross (D)

Leonard Lance (R)

DISTRICT  2

DISTRICT 8

Frank A. LoBiondo ( R)

Albio Sires (D)

DISTRICT  3

DISTRICT 9

Tom MacArthur (R)

Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D)

DISTRICT 4

DISTRICT 10

Christopher H. Smith (R)

Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D)

DISTRICT 5

DISTRICT 11

Josh Gottheimer (D)

Rodney Frelinghuysen (R)

DISTRICT 6

DISTRICT 12

Frank Pallone, Jr. (D)

Bonnie Watson Coleman (D)

For New Jersey Senate and Assembly

Senate District 18

Assembly District 18

Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr (D)

Robert J. Karabinchak (D)


Sweeney: Police and Firefighters Should Control their Own Pension Investments

New Jersey’s police and fire unions would manage their own members’ pensions under a bill state Senate President Stephen Sweeney plans to introduce.

The bill would take responsibility for police and firefighter pensions away from the State Investment Council, which manages all public pension funds and is made of gubernatorial, legislative and union appointees, as well as trustees from the pension systems.

Unions have criticized the council for investing too heavily in “alternative investments” like hedge funds, which have higher fees, rather than more traditional investments. Only after a long dispute between gubernatorial and union appointees did the council recently agree to slash its hedge fund holdings.


New IAFF Behavioral Health Treatment Center for Fire Fighters and Paramedics
Few if any callings subject our members to more stress and trauma than serving as a fire fighter or paramedic.

Whether it’s responding to a grisly accident, working to save the lives of others, being in a life-threatening situation or dealing with constant alarms, IAFF members face challenges that are virtually unknown to the public. The fact is, one in five fire fighters experiences post-traumatic stress at some point in their career.

“As I travel across our two great countries, I hear first-hand about the struggles some of us face with post-traumatic stress,” says General President Harold Schaitberger. “It’s a condition that affects our members at double the rate of the general population. But there have been few programs to address it.”

As more members are experiencing post-traumatic stress, the IAFF has undertaken an intensive effort to remove the stigma associated with behavioral health issues and provide resources for treatment and recovery.


Camden to Hire 27 New Firefighters with $5.2M Federal Grant
Camden's fire department has received a $5.2 million grant to hire 27 more firefighters, officials recently said.

The money, which comes after years of layoffs that hampered response times in the city, is from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It will boost the number of firefighters to 196.

Fire Chief Michael Harper, in a brief statement Wednesday, called the hires "a breath of fresh air."

These new firefighters will be a wonderful addition to our department," Harper said.

In 2011, the city laid off 60 firefighters - a third of the department - to cut costs. Though some of them were later rehired, suburban fire companies were needed to assist on calls, and response times sometimes stretched to eight minutes. That was beyond the six-minute mark reached in most calls before the layoffs.


UPDATE: Assistance to our Brothers and Sisters in Louisiana

Brothers and Sisters, 

By now you have heard of the devastating floods in Louisiana.  Many of our IAFF Brothers and Sisters have been adversely effected.  The first estimate was that 300 IAFF members’ homes have been flooded.  Because the area that flooded was not a known flood area and has never flooded before, flood insurance was not required.  Without the flood insurance, many of our brothers and sisters will have no insurance to rebuild or renovate their homes.

We initially put out an email and post for clothing so that we could get necessary clothing to our members in need in Louisiana.  But when I contacted the Louisiana State President, he advise that although they appreciated the offer, they had already received truckloads of clothes and that clothing was not needed at this time.  But what was needed was gift cards and financial assistance.

New Jersey IAFF members could help with the need of financial assistance and  “gift cards” which would be a tremendous help at the present time.  We are in the process of setting up some type of fund drive to raise money for our brothers and sisters in Louisiana.

In the meantime, we ask that any local and its members that can donate “gift cards” from  Sams Club, Costco and Target, in denominations of $50 or less (so distribution is easy)  that would be a tremendous help at this time.  If you could get the purchased gift cards to the State Office by Monday September 5th, we can get them down to the Louisiana State President as a complete package from New Jersey.  When sending in the cards or if you can get them to one of the executive board members  or hand deliver the cards to the state office, please have a cover letter so that all locals can be properly acknowledged for their participation.

Thank you for your consideration

Dominick


Assistance to our Brothers and Sisters in Louisiana

Brothers and Sisters, 

As you are aware, almost 300 members of IAFF Local 557 suffered through 21 inches of rainfall. The IAFF has been working with members in the flooded area to assess needs and provide assistance.

The water has receded but due to the severity of the flooding many of our Brothers and Sisters have been left with nothing.

After speaking with the Louisiana State President, he advises that the members have already received truckloads of clothing. What they need more now is financial assistance. The PFANJ along with many of the New Jersey locals will be holding a fund raiser for Louisiana. Details will be posted shortly.

Thank you for your support in this most difficult time for our members in Louisiana and the citizens of Louisia.

Dominick



Delegates at the IAFF 53rd Convention spent the week making decisions that will guide this union for the next two years and beyond. Read more about the votes and decisions your colleagues made about your union:

*** See All Convention Coverage ***

NEWS ~ VIDEOS ~ PHOTO GALLERY ~ RESOLUTION ACTION

The IAFF 54th Convention and 100-Year Anniversary is
August 6-10, 2018 in Seattle, Washington


Opening Ceremony Highlights
The IAFF 53rd Convention in Las Vegas opened with a spectacular Opening Ceremony in celebration of the theme Strength, Solidarity and Success. The program began with a parade of members carrying flags from all of the U.S. states and Canadian provinces and territories that contain IAFF affiliates. At the peak of the ceremony, IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger delivered the State of the Union address.


Schaitberger Tells Delegates at 53rd Convention – No Endorsement for POTUS, Focus Will Be on Down Ballot Races
During his state-of-union address at the IAFF 53rd Convention in Las Vegas, General President Harold Schaitberger announced that, after discussions with on this critical decision over the last 16 months, the IAFF Executive Board had made a decision not to support either candidate in the race for president.

“This election is like none we have faced in our lifetime,” he said. “We all know we have a politically diverse union, and have always faced a membership with strong partisan views. But it’s clear those intensely held feelings are unlike normal political disagreements we’ve seen in past election cycles.”

The decision not to endorse reflects the reality of the circumstances in this very different election season, and also recognizes the harm a decision to endorse – either way – could do to our union’s solidarity.

“Solidarity has made this union strong,” he said. “We won’t break that solidarity or tear our union apart for anyone.


Second Edition Voice Radio Communications Guide Released
The importance of radio communications for fire fighter safety is the focus of the newly-released Voice Radio Communications Guide for the Fire Service.

Developed by the IAFF in partnership with the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) and supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate, First Responders Group, Office for Interoperability and Compatibility, this second edition provides the fundamental awareness of radio communications technology and human resource issues, and covers basic radio technology, digital and analog technology, conventional and trunked radio systems, portable radios, system design and implementation, interoperability and spectrum licensing.

Kitchen Table - Overcoming Post-Traumatic Stress

General President Harold Schaitberger talks with IAFF members who have struggled and recovered from post-traumatic stress, one of the biggest but often untreated health issues among our ranks.


NJ SPOTLIGHT ROUNDTABLE: SOLVING NEW JERSEY’S PUBLIC-PENSION CRISIS
How do you reform a system that’s at least $44 billion in debt and saddled with retiree healthcare costs that are spiraling out of sight?




From the New Jersey AFL-CIO...

Christie Tells It Like He Wants It to Be

Gov. Christie didn’t let facts get in the way during this month’s State-of-the-State speech. While he devoted 11-and-a-half minutes to union bashing, the New Jersey AFL-CIO deconstructed the lies and “Tell It Like It Really Is” in just over a minute.


Chris Christie and His Lies!




Open Letter from Plan Design Committee regarding Governor's Exec. Order on Public Worker Health Benefits

As you are most likely aware, recently Governor Christie issued an Executive Order concerning public worker and retiree health benefits (EO 209,  find it here: http://nj.gov/infobank/circular/eocc209.pdf )

In his EO Chrisite does his usual routine, in this case blaming workers and unions for the failure of his own administration to take effective action to achieve health care cost savings.

Christie seeks to force our unions to implement health care cost savings of his choice (read: not actually cost savings just make members pay more.)

Fortunately, a year and half ago our unions won an Appellate Court ruling (3-0) concerning retiree prescription drug copays that made clear that only the New Jersey State Health Benefit Plan Design (PDC) has the authority to make changes to the State Health Benefit Plan.   The PDC has equal numbers of union and management representatives meaning that nothing passes unless labor and management can agree to changes.

Apparently in recognition of this important court ruling,  Christie's EO does not attempt to interfere with the health benefits of our members but instead takes hostages by freezing half of municipal aide payments and also freezing a host of other budget items.

So while our members health benefits are not immediately threatened, our members working and/or living in municipalities impacted by Christie's freeze on municipal aide, especially in places like Paterson, Newark, Camden and Atlantic City, will be impacted by Christie's hostage strategy.

Union Cost Saving Proposals:
The unions of the Plan Design Committee (PDC) have in the past helped implement very significant cost saving changes.   The unions continue to be willing to work cooperatively with management to achieve more cost savings as long as the cost savings do NOT shift costs to members and members see a benefit from any cost savings implemented.
The attached letter to legislators from the unions of the PDC explains our position in detail and outlines three specific union cost saving proposals.  Please read and distribute.

Here are a few key points to keep in mind:

*       For the last six months, the unions of the PDC have been discussing cost saving ideas with management,

*       Management cancelled the last PDC meeting,

*       Management has had union proposals for very significant health cost
         savings for two weeks,

*       The Unions  have proposed a better way to purchase prescription drugs that would save between $200 and $240 million a year, though management has been working on it since 2013 they have been unable in three years to award a new prescription drug contract,

*       Passage of out-of-network legislation would save the state $40 million a year in health benefit costs, local governments would also save,

*      Incentives for members to voluntarily join tiered network plans would bring tens of millions of dollars in cost savings,

*       Union supported changes concerning compound drugs and chiropractic out of network charges will already save $200 million this year.  This is in addition to the $100 million a year in retiree drug cost savings implemented four years ago with union support.



MDA National Ambassador Joe Akmakjian


MDA 2016 PFANJ Convention Presentation


The IAFF, along with the International Association of Fire Chiefs, Metropolitan Fire Chiefs, the Congressional Fire Services Institute and the International Fire Service Training Association, have updated and released the 3rd Edition of the Fire-Based EMS Toolkit.

Updates to the online toolkit include up-to-date information on Fire-Based Community Healthcare Providers (FBCHP) - or “communityparamedicine” - and a new section on responding to violence, including resources for active shooter response.


IAFF Dispatch: Season 2, Episode 1: Fighting Fire With Facts

Two exciting new data systems will ultimately help keep you safe, as well as give us the scientific data needed to hold communities accountable when it comes to public and fire fighter safety. 


IAFF Dispatch Season 2 Episode 2

• Stronger and Safer – What happens at IAFF conventions affects us all
• Legislative Victories – Getting lawmakers to understand what we've known all along.


IAFF Dispatch - Season 2, Episode 2: Cancer Awareness




Brothers and Sisters,

Following Super Tuesday, presidential hopefuls on both sides of the political aisle continue to accrue delegates in the primary season as they approach their respective nominating conventions in July.

As we made clear in our last notice on a potential IAFF presidential endorsement, our Executive Board, after careful consideration – including extensive feedback from our leaders and members across the union – will not be considering a presidential endorsement until after the primaries play out.

However, it is still our job and responsibility to keep our members informed about where all of the candidates stand on our issues – because the president of the United States has a dramatic impact on issues that affect your work, your health and public safety.

So, as we continue to follow the candidates on the campaign trail, we are continuing to focus on our basket of issues. We are looking for a president who will be on our side:

  • A president who will work to make your lives better at work and at home and who have consistently championed fire service issues.

  • A president who will advocate for defined benefit pension systems that ensure you have a secure retirement after a career spent risking your life for others.

  • A president who supports collective bargaining and giving you and other public sector unions the right to have a say in your safety and the safety of the communities you serve.

  • A president who will repeal the excise tax – known as the Cadillac tax – and strengthen the system of employer-paid health care.

  • A president who will fight to make sure funding is available for FIRE and SAFER grants to hire or retain fire fighters, purchase equipment and other fire department resources and provide the critical training our members need to stay safe and do your jobs effectively.

Although a president doesn’t directly introduce legislation, he or she does set broad policy goals that translate into a budget and programs that could either be helpful or harmful to our members and the fire service.

Any candidate who doesn’t support your right to have a voice in the workplace, who won’t protect your retirement and stand with us on public safety, who will work against unions, support Right-to-Work laws and other anti-worker legislation, or eliminate SAFER and FIRE Act grants – simply doesn’t deserve the endorsement of this IAFF, because it’s our job to fight to protect all of those things on your behalf.

For this IAFF, it’s not about Democrats or Republicans – it’s about our members and their jobs. And this presidential election absolutely matters to our great profession, your safety on the job and ultimately how well you can provide for your families.

We know that there are a diverse array of political and social viewpoints across the membership of this great union, and those differing opinions are regularly expressed at the kitchen table in your station houses when I make my visits – and we’re proud to represent all of you.

We fully embrace your right to make your own, personal decisions when casting your ballot. At the same time, we strongly encourage you to place a serious priority on these core IAFF issues as you make your voting decisions going forward because we need elected officials in office who have our back, and to get those leaders in office, we need to support them at the ballot box when the time comes.

We will continue to update you as the election progresses.

Stay informed, and stay safe.

Fraternally,


Harold A. Schaitberger
General President




Once Again, Governor VETO's First Responders Protection Act

To All PFANJ Members, 

For the second time, Governor Christie vetoed legislation that would have protected all first responders, paid or volunteer and their families! 

Governor Christie’s callous action against first responders and their families is revolting.  Without any real documentation to justify his veto, Christie is putting his political needs ahead of the needs of the workers who make New Jersey the great state it is.  We are outraged that after working with the legislature to bring forth a good solid bill that addressed Christie’s concerns the first time he vetoed our bill, he still vetoed it. 

Apparently nothing is going to satisfy Christie.  He is not leading New Jersey, he is burying New Jersey. 

This second veto proves that our current Governor continues to disrespect you and your families.  

We will not stop, we will continue to fight for this legislation and other legislation that will benefit you and your families. 

Stay strong, Stay the course!

Dominick



Take Action: Support Pension Funding

Do not delay, act today.  After you send your message via the link below, forward this email to all your contacts and ask them to support Pension Funding.  

Requiring the state to live up to its obligation to fund pensions will restore New Jersey’s retirement system to fiscal health for the 800,000 active and retired workers who are counting on receiving the modest pension they earned.

We urge you to send a message to your legislators in the state Senate and Assembly to convey the importance of passing resolution S-184/ACR-3 to place a ballot question for fully funded pensions before voters. By providing your address and zip code, you automatically will be matched to your state representatives. You can then easily forward the pre-written message or express you own thoughts on the importance of living up to pension promises.

The link below has been provided by the New Jersey AFL-CIO. 
https://actionnetwork.org/letters/take-action-support-pension-funding?source=email&


State Health Benefits Program Information (SHBP)

Medical Plan Summaries of Benefits and Coverage - Plan Year 2016

Monthly Rates - For Plan Year 2016

Monthly Rates - For Plan Year 2015

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

Chapter 330 Medical Plan Summaries of Benefits and Coverage - Plan Year 2016

Chapter 330 Monthly Rates - Plan Year 2016

Chapter 330 Monthly Rates - Plan Year 2015

SPECIAL NOTE FOR CHAPTER 330 RETIREES

Below is a link to the State Health Benefits Website and a printable change form.

Chapter 330 Coverage Change Form
http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/pensions/epbam/exhibits/pdf/hr0809.pdf

Link to State Health Benefits Website
http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/pensions/


NEW PFANJ CUSTOM DECALS AVAILABLE
NOW

DECAL IS APPROXIMATELY 4” SQUARE

(See Sample Below)
Sample New PFANJ Custom Decal

All  requests for these CUSTOM Decals MUST come from the
President of the Local.
To Place Orders, Local Presidents should contact the PFANJ Office via email at: pfanj@pfanj.org
Be sure to include specifics, including name and local number,
total decals requested, and how your local name should be displayed.
All orders MUST be prepaid.


Report of State Health Plan Design Committe (PDC)

To All Members:

Report from Dudley Burdge, AFL-CIO member of the PDC

On July 6, 2015 the State Health Plan Design Committee (PDC) adopted resolutions establishing a new primary care initiative, a new limited network option, changes concerning Hepatitis C medications, compound drugs, chiropractic and acupuncture out of network payments, ER copays, and a Rutgers University wellness pilot.

This was the first time that the state has engaged in serious negotiation with public worker unions concerning the design, implementation and monitoring of State Health Benefit Plan programs.  The PDC adopted a detailed resolution establishing a new primary care initiative -- this proposal was a union initiative that was not proposed or originally supported by either management or Horizon.

Though the PDC was established in 2011 by Chapter 78, up to now management has treated the PDC as a sort of impediment to the functioning of the State Health Benefit Plan.    However, a decisive union victory in December 2014 concerned retiree prescription drug copayments established and reaffirmed the authority of the PDC.

The goals of the unions was to control costs and premiums without shifting costs to members which it is believed these new measures will achieved.   A copy of the new programs and changes to existing programs may be found HERE.


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.

Fraternally,

Harold A. Schaitberger
General President 



The Luxe Life of Chris Christie, With a Little Help From His ‘Friends’

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.


Marino: Christie Has Smoke-and-Mirrors Approach to Pensions
Gov. Chris Christie continues to blame everyone for the state’s pension problems — previous governors, politicians, fire fighters and police officers — but he knowingly refuses to take responsibility for his own actions on the issue.

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.


Chris Christie: Smoke and Mirrors


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.


Available for Download HERE for Apple and iPad Devices

Available for Download HERE for Android 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.



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.
1.

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.

2.

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.

3. 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.
4.

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.



Planning for Your Healthcare
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a federal statute signed into law by President Obama in March 2010. 

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.



Firemen Still Not in Christie's Corner
A recent news article entitled “From jeers to cheers: Gov. Christie suddenly applauded by N.J. firemen’s group,” that ran September 14 is deeply misleading. The story leads readers to believe that all firefighters support the governor. That is false.

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 President William Romaka:

(631) 893-9116 (Office)
(917) 834-1414 (Cell)
bromaka@iaff.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.

The form may be found at:
http://www.state.nj.us/perc/NJ_PERC_Unfair_Practice_Charge_2011.08.19.pdf

 
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  • Time to Stop Bulling Police and Firefighters!

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  • Memo from PFANJ Attorneys Mets Schiro & McGovern, LLP Regarding Challenges to P.L. 2010, c. 2 and P.L. 2011, c. 78

  • The Truth About Arbitration

  • The Unspoken Truth About Pensions

  • Trenton’s Un-Truth about Police and Fire Pensions

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  • Gov. Christie Recants Campaign Promise of Not Altering N.J. Firefighters' Pensions

  • NJ Governor's Current Attack on Firefighters and Labor!

  • Gov. Christie Falsely Blames Public Employees for New Jersey’s Fiscal Problems

  • Attention Potential IAFF
    EMS Members!

    Click here for a downloadable and printable IAFF document
    "Showing and Demonstration of Interest"
    for those individuals wishing to learn more about
    and affiliate with the International Association of Fire Fighters...

    Kindly fill out the form and then mail it to the
    State Association Office ASAP!


    YOUR MEDIA...

    Professional Pension Benefit & Retirement Consultation
    for PFANJ Members
    Click Here
    for Information

    Upcoming Events:

    PFANJ State Delegate Meeting
    October 12, 2016
    Middlesex County Fire Academy
    1001 Fire Academy Drive Sayreville, NJ 08872

    PFANJ State Delegate Meeting
    November 9, 2016
    Middlesex County Fire Academy
    1001 Fire Academy Drive Sayreville, NJ 08872

    PFANJ State Delegate Meeting
    December 14, 2016
    Middlesex County Fire Academy
    1001 Fire Academy Drive Sayreville, NJ 08872
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