Association of Fire Fighters State Association
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What's New at the PFANJ:
Christie Officials Gave Millions In Public Funds To VC Firm, Despite “Pay To Play” Rules
As Pando has previously reported, New Jersey has some of the nation’s strongest anti pay-to-play and anti-corruption laws and rules. These aim to prohibit public pension contracts from being awarded to investment firms whose executives make financial contributions to politicians, election funds and political party organizations operating in the state. They are buttressed by SEC rules engineered to do the same thing.
Yet, despite all of these laws and rules, Pando has discovered evidence that Gov. Chris Christie’s administration awarded a public pension contract to a technology venture capital firm shortly after a partner at that same firm made a $10,000 contribution to the New Jersey Republican State Committee.
In an 11-page letter to the ethics commission, New Jersey AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech said that the chair of the State Investment Council, Robert Grady, “has violated the Division's own rules barring politics in the selection and retention of such funds and investments, and has further created an appearance of impropriety.”
On September 11, 2014 we will mark the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
In New York, the names of those killed in the attacks will be read aloud by their family members, friends and coworkers. Across the country, Americans will gather at memorials to honor the memories of those who died.
As a nation, we rightly resolved to never forget the attacks. But the truth is, we haven’t entirely kept that promise.
What many Americans may not know is that as the nation recovered, a public health disaster was just beginning to unfold. Thousands are sick because of the attacks, as well as the rescue and recovery operations that continued for months afterward.
In the days approaching this Sept. 11 and on the day itself, we ask Americans to remember all the victims of that terrible day — those who lost their lives, and the thousands of living victims who are sick and dying from illnesses and injuries, some of which have taken years to fully manifest.
We all know the outlines of the story. After 9/11, Americans from all 50 states rushed to Ground Zero to help in any way they could. Thousands of people worked in extremely hazardous conditions, often without proper protective equipment.
As they labored, the site smoldered, and rescue and recovery workers breathed in a toxic stew of chemicals, asbestos, pulverized cement and other health hazards released into the air when the towers fell.
The dust cloud that so unforgettably rolled through lower Manhattan after the attacks settled in homes, offices, buildings and elsewhere — exposing tens of thousands more to the same toxins.
Thirteen years later, more than 30,000 9/11 responders, as well as survivors of the attacks and area residents and workers, have an illness or injury caused by the attacks or their aftermath, and over two-thirds of those have more than one illness.
Many are disabled and can no longer work. They are suffering from a host of chronic diseases: asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease and gastroesophageal reflux disease, to name but a few.
Medical research has identified more than 60 types of cancer caused by 9/11 toxins. At least 2,800 people have been diagnosed with cancers caused or made worse by the aftermath of the attacks, a number that is sure to grow in the years to come.
More than 800 New York Fire Department members and more than 550 New York Police Department personnel are struggling with serious 9/11-related illnesses, many of them cancers, and have had to retire from their jobs for health reasons.
That is in addition to the more than 70 firefighters and 60 NYPD officers who have died from their 9/11-related illnesses.
Memorials and monuments to our losses continue to be built across the country in Arizona, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey and elsewhere. This outpouring of commemoration — not just in metal and stone, but in solemn ceremonies and prayer vigils, stair climbs and other events — is important to the American spirit. It is a source of comfort for those who lost loved ones and shows that the nation truly remembers those who lost their lives.
But sadly, there is still little mention that 9/11 is, on a daily basis, impacting the health of thousands of living Americans every day. That needs to change.
This Sept. 11, as Americans gather to honor and remember those who lost their lives that day, we are calling on the organizers of these memorials — governors, mayors, city councils and neighborhood and civic groups throughout America — to recognize the living victims of the attacks as well.
As your town or neighborhood holds a 9/11 remembrance, we hope you will remember and mention the thousands who struggle every day with illnesses or injuries caused by the attacks. These heroes need your support, too.
Alles is national legislative director with the Uniformed Fire Officers Association. Slevin is vice president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. Both are members of the 9/11 Health Watch board of directors
There are two very important deadlines approaching. For all our Brothers and Sisters who came to the WTC site and volunteered on 9/11 and the days after, you may be entitled to benefits and health care for those diseases and Cancers deemed caused by your exposure. The ONLY way to qualify is to have registered with the NYS Workers Compensation Board and provide necessary proof of service. It is important to remember that you do NOT have to currently be sick or receiving treatment to register. Registering is the ONLY way to protect you and your family’s future, should something unfortunate happen due to your exposure. Be careful to read and understand all the requirements on the WTC-12 form below. It must be notarized and received by the NYS Workers Compensation Board by this Thursday, September 11th. Sending it registered mail, with a return receipt will help you provide proof of timely filing. THIS IS YOUR FINAL CHANCE!
The second deadline is for those who are registered, and who have already been diagnosed with Cancer. October 12th, 2014 is the last day to register a claim with the Zadroga 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund for those with a certified Cancer. Additional information can be found on the IAFF web site at http://wtc.iaff.org/. Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Additionally, it is to everyone who volunteers benefit to be part of the World Trade Center Health Program. It provides medical monitoring and treatment for all eligible responders and survivors who are certified (or approved) for treatment of a condition. The Program also provides medical care, testing, and prescription drugs for all certified conditions. To enroll, you should call 1-888-982-4748. It is important to remember that this is also a National Program where treatment can be authorized in your area should the need arise.
Please pass this on to your membership and thank you for looking out for your members!
IAFF 1st District Vice President
Gov. Christie Shifted Pension Cash to Wall Street, Costing New Jersey Taxpayers $3.8 Billion
Gov. Chris Christie's administration openly acknowledged that more New Jersey taxpayer dollars were going to land in the coffers of major financial institutions. It was 2010, and Christie had just installed a longtime private equity executive, Robert Grady, to manage the state's pension money. Grady promoted a plan to put more of those funds into riskier investments managed by Wall Street firms. Though this would entail higher fees, Grady said the strategy would "maximize returns while appropriately managing risk."
Four years later, New Jersey has secured only half the promised results. The state has sent more pension money to big-name Wall Street firms like Blackstone, Third Point, Omega Advisors, Elliott Associates and Grady's old firm, The Carlyle Group. Additionally, the amount of fees the state pays financial managers has more than tripled since Christie assumed office. New Jersey is now one of America’s largest investors in hedge funds.
If a man is only as good as his word, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie breaks his word to first responders, what does that say about the character of a man who is trying to position himself as the next U.S. president?
It says Gov. Christie does not care much about the brave men and women who risk their lives to keep New Jersey safe. It says he is not to be trusted.
Back in 2009, when Christie was running for office, he promised New Jersey police and firefighters: “The claim that any harm would come to your pension when I’m elected governor is absolutely untrue. It is a 100 percent lie. Your pension will be protected when I am elected governor.” He further stated: “It is a sacred trust. Nothing will change for the pensions of current officers, future officers or retirees in a Christie administration.”
But once in the governor’s office, Christie launched a cynical campaign attacking public employees and claiming the state cannot afford the retirement security police officers and firefighters were promised.
In 2011, Christie signed pension reform, forcing public employees to pay more for their pensions, compelling them to work longer and cutting their cost-of-living increases. As part of this bipartisan deal he signed with state lawmakers, Christie agreed to make regularly scheduled payments for seven years until the pension system regains balance.
Now, however, Christie is traveling around the state as part of his “No pain, no gain” campaign claiming, “We have made promises we cannot keep.”
A sacred trust? The only thing sacred to Christie seems to be his political future.
But if breaking the promises made to first responders and to voters is not enough to get our attention, Christie’s fiscal mismanagement should cause alarm not just in New Jersey, but across the nation he claims to have the character to lead.
Under his watch, New Jersey’s bond rating has fallen five times. That’s Wall Street rendering its verdict on Christie’s brand of leadership.
Christie’s budget projections have been erroneous. And rather than foster a business climate beneficial to all of New Jersey, Christie has lavished subsidies (more than $4 billion since 2010) on the false promise of more jobs.
The only thing those subsidies have accomplished is lining the campaign coffers of the Republican Governors Association, which Christie chairs, with checks written by those who benefit from the subsidies. Meanwhile, New Jersey’s unemployment rate remains among the worst in the nation.
Rather than own up to his dismal fiscal stewardship, Christie is once again on the campaign trail blaming New Jersey’s hard-working police officers, firefighters and teachers for economic problems he should have fixed already.
Rather than honoring his promise to pay what is owed to bring the retirement system into balance, Christie once again is scapegoating public employees and raiding their paychecks.
Police officers and firefighters are not lazy and undeserving, as Christie seems to want us all to believe. They put their lives on the line every day to protect the citizens of this great state. They are our neighbors and hard-working taxpayers. They spend their money right here in New Jersey and help keep the economy strong.
Police officers and firefighters don’t get lavish economic development subsidies or corporate tax breaks. They are not sports team ownership groups that receive sweetheart taxpayer-funded deals for stadiums and other facilities (the Philadelphia 76ers recently received an $82 million subsidy for the construction of a practice facility in Camden from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority).
The people of New Jersey – and the American people, for that matter – have seen enough of Chris Christie’s brand of leadership. There’s no need to continue the nonstop campaign tour. Christie has broken his word to New Jersey’s first responders. He is shortchanging the state’s public retirement system while throwing billions of dollars at those he expects to help him politically. And he has failed to improve New Jersey’s economy.
New Jersey deserves better. And the nation deserves better than what Chris Christie has to offer.
Ed Brannigan is national vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police. Bill Romaka is 1st District vice president of the International Association of Fire Fighters.
From California to Illinois to New Jersey and beyond, pension gutting efforts are being overturned by judges who recognize that breaking promises to workers isn’t just regrettable, it’s illegal. Pension opponents castigate the courts as the enemy while conveniently ignoring why legal protections exist in the first place—to protect public employees from politicians who spent years playing politics with their retirement savings.
For decades, elected officials across the country skipped pension payments, often while funneling money into pet projects. Until the Great Recession, politicians were able to hide these mistakes behind a booming economy. But by 2008 the economy had plummeted, shining the spotlight on this financial malfeasance.
Wall Street mega firms Blackstone, Third Point, Omega Advisors, Elliot Associates and The Carlyle Group have reportedly pocketed $3.8 billion dollars in fees since 2010 at a rate triple what was paid to pension fund managers prior to Christie assuming office.
Christie advisor Robert Grady notably had a long career at The Carlyle Group prior to joining the government, according to the International Business Times.
The switch was made in 2010 to give the state "diversified portfolio and maximize returns while appropriately managing risk," Grady told the trade publication Institutional Investor in a report headlined "New Jersey ups the ante."
The Carlyle Group has received $450 million in state pension funds while ranking among the top fee earners on Wall Street, according to state disclosure documents.
All management fees paid to firms by the pension have skyrocketed from only $125.1 million in 2009 to nearly $400 million in 2013, according to the New Jersey State Investment Council, which oversees the pension.
Officer: Boss Told Me To 'Shut Up' About Bridge TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Police officers on the George Washington Bridge last September during lane closures apparently ordered by Republican Gov. Chris Christie's aides as political payback said they warned superiors about the hazardous conditions created and were told not to talk about it on their radios, according to a summary provided by their lawyer to a legislative panel investigating the scandal.
Attorney Dan Bibb, who works for the union representing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officers, relayed information from 11 officers, including at least three who said they were told about the traffic change by a lieutenant who ordered them not to move the traffic cones blocking the lanes.
Christie Fighting Public Records Requests
Oil from the same underground well involved in one of the worst rail disasters in recent history has been quietly traveling past thousands of Bergen County homes and businesses for the past 11 months, and few would have known about it if it weren’t for documents released by New York State. New Jersey officials have resisted requests from The Record for the same information since June.
Millions of dollars’ worth of NJ Transit trains were ruined last year when officials ignored their own storm planning and moved the cars to low ground during Superstorm Sandy. The state released emails and internal planning documents that showed the full extent of the agency’s mismanagement only after months of public pressure and a lawsuit filed by The Record.
And the Christie administration is now waging more than 20 simultaneous legal battles to keep other government documents out of public view, including hotel receipts from the governor’s out-of-state trips and records that would state why several top Christie officials left their jobs in the aftermath of the George Washington Bridge lane-closure investigations.
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 meetings between Christie's political team and the state's pension overseer challenge assurances from the governor that the investment of state pension funds has been fully insulated from the political process. The meetings occurred as Christie's campaign benefited from contributions from executives at financial firms that have secured lucrative contracts to manage growing slices of New Jersey pension money.
State and federal laws severely restrict campaign donations from companies that manage state pension money. These so-called pay-to-play rules are aimed at preventing pension funds from being invested according to political dictates rather than in pursuit of the greatest return. A former federal prosecutor cognizant of such laws, Christie has maintained that New Jersey's pension funds have been effectively walled off from political influence.
The governor’s most recent budget had promised $3.8 billion for the state’s struggling pension funds over the next two years, but he announced last week that he would take back $2.43 billion of that total. Christie said the move was “not only the best but the only decision we’re left with” for the state’s $2.7 billion two-year deficit.
But the circumstances that left Christie in that hole didn’t arise on their own. He created them by spending $2.1 billion on business tax subsidies over the first three years of his tenure and by overseeing “alternative investments” of pension money with hedge funds and other high-fee money managers who pocketed a combined $1.2 billion in fees that would otherwise have gone into the state’s pension funds over the past year alone.
Suppport the Members of Local S18 - A.C. Int. Airport Firefighters
********* ALERT *********** BLOODS RETILATION ON ALL JERSEY CITY COPS WORKING THE DOT TRAFFIC DETAILS, SINGLE MAN DETAILS
Information from a reliable source within the BLOODS stated that the BLOODS within Jersey City have requested assistance from the BLOODS GANG MEMBERS from Camden and Newark to shoot another POLICE OFFICER in Jersey City. The Cops targeted are those who are working the DOT Skyway Detail single man unit. In addition to shooting a Police Officer, members of the BLOODS will attack and shoot Jersey City EMT’s, because they know the Police Officers will respond immediately to their back-up. Members of THE BLOODS are stashing AK-47’s in whatever abandoned houses/apartments, Etc, between Grant and Orient Avenues on MLK Dr. Confident Informant stated that the BLOODS will not stop until the National Guards are called in.
BROTHERS AND SISTERS PLEASE BE ALERT AND STAY SAFE
It wasn’t all that long ago that we could find Gov. Christie on one of his many political trips around the country boasting of the bipartisan plan he forged with the Legislature to save the state’s pension system from ruin.
That plan included ramping up not only the state’s contributions, which have lagged badly over the past couple of decades, but also significantly increased the paycheck deductions taken from the workers who contribute to it. There was also the elimination of the annual cost-of-living increase for retirees as well as steep increases in the contributions paid by workers for their health plans.
Now, less than three years after signing that landmark legislation into law, the governor refuses to uphold his end of the bargain and instead has turned his back on working and retired teachers, police officers, firefighters and other public servants who have upheld their end of a far heavier burden placed on them and their families.
The governor has gone from touting the pension changes made three years ago as “a model for the nation” to refusing to share in the burden by withholding $900 million in payments appropriated by the Legislature and due in the fiscal year that just ended June 30.
Statement on the June 9, 2014 PFRS Board Meeting:
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.
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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.
TIME TO STOP BULLYING POLICE AND FIREFIGHTERS! (Trenton) Governor Christie continues to poke this State’s public employees in the eye on a variety of issues ranging from pensions, working conditions, and overall attacks on their integrity.
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.
January 14, 2014
To all PFANJ Members,
If you were not able to watch or listen to the Governors state of the state address today, here are the bullet points that affect you and your family.
Not allowing Interest Arbitration Reform to Sunset this April.
Shared Services and Consolidation Reforms
Civil Service Reforms
Eliminate Sick Leave Payout
Pension Disability Reform
No User Fee's
Skip Payment to Pension System
Additional Pension Reform
It is obvious from his speech, demeanor and his tone that he has no intention of letting up on his attacks on public servants. The fact that he continues to attack your pensions and earned compensation to balance the state budget is disgusting. Even though he signed into law legislation that requires his administration to make specific pension payments, he has the nerve to say that he doesn’t want to make the payment so he can fund other programs. The battle lines are definitely clear. Enough is enough. You have done your part, you have seen your pension payments raised and your paychecks and compensation reduced. We will not sit back and allow this governor to demonize and attack our members and our profession without a fight. We have always negotiated fairly. He has never negotiated fairly! Shortly we will be meeting with legislative leadership and they will be told that the line in the sand that the Governor has drawn is it. They need to stand up for you and your family, the working middle class now and tell this governor that he is wrong and not allow him to continue in the manor he is. As things progress or digress, it will be posted on our website and Facebook page and emailed.
Dominick Marino, President
Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey
January 10, 2014
We have published the first in a series of summary "primers" on how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) affects IAFF members.
Over the coming weeks and months, we will continue to provide communications, reference materials, tools and support to our affiliates and members, explaining in detail the provisions of the new law and how they affect our members.
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.
To All Members:
The City of Brigantine NJ has a serious union issue now.
The City is planning to not replace retired firefighters and will not be hiring any new EMT/ Firefighters.
You may see advertised statewide that the City is offering part time per diem
These jobs would be in direct conflict with our union work.
The Jobs offer no Health Benefits, No Pension, and no Job Security. There are plenty of cities that hire Firefighter/EMTs legitimately and with benefits and there are many areas where these types of opportunities are available with no conflict to our union work.
The PFANJ and it's Executive Board are requesting that no PFANJ member, family member, or PFANJ supporter seek employment with the City of Brigantine or any city for that matter who attempt to cut firefighter positions with part-time per diem employees.
Please help us protect our Brother and Sister's jobs in Brigantine and statewide.
Please pass this message to as many friends and family as possible.
November 18, 2013
From the beginning of the national debate on healthcare reform, the IAFF has been very clear about our position -- do no harm to our members, the fire fighters and paramedics who protect communities throughout this nation daily and when disaster strikes.
And from the beginning of the debate over what should and shouldn’t be in the new healthcare law, we made our position very clear to our members, to other unions, and to members of Congress from both parties, and we made our position very clear to the Obama administration – over and over again. WATCH VIDEO
Ultimately, after just about every segment of the population, industry, corporation and interest group in this entire country weighed in on the bill, in March of 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- also known as Obamacare -- was passed and signed into law.
The law is massive, cumbersome, complex and very confusing.
On one hand, it’s important to note that the law has some elements that are good and important for our members – your coverage can’t be dropped when you or a member of your family is sick; insurance must cover the full cost of preventive care, including annual physicals and immunizations; you can’t be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions; your children can stay on your plan until the age of 26, if needed; and there are no lifetime limits on benefits, among other things. These are all positive improvements for the healthcare of all consumers, including IAFF members and their families.
However, as everyone knows, there are also considerable, structural and long-term problems with Obamacare that extend well beyond the epic failure of the launch of the federal healthcare exchange web site.
Because the law was passed in such a dramatic, high profile and partisan fashion – supported by Democrats, while Republicans voiced loud opposition – there are a lot of half-truths, much misinformation and some outright lies being spouted by the talking heads on both sides of the issue.
To be clear and on the record once again, here’s where the IAFF stands on the elements of the ACA that we know will most affect our members’ healthcare today and going forward.
First, the promise President Obama made to the American people that, “if you like your healthcare you can keep it,” is not true.
In addition, while the president claimed during his press conference on November 14 that when he made that declaration he was thinking about the 95 percent of people who are covered by employer-based insurance plans (like most union members) and those with Medicare, the problem is that it is not true for those groups, either.
While many pundits claim that only those with substandard coverage are losing their health insurance, the truth is that certain provisions of the ACA will impact the plan design and, ultimately, the survival of high-quality employer sponsored and union negotiated plans – including many of our members’ plans.
Clearly, the new law will force changes in virtually every insurance plan on the market today – whether you hold an individual policy or are in a group plan like most IAFF members. Things are going to change. The only questions that remain to be answered fully are: How much change will there be? When will the changes occur? And how much will the changes help or hurt our members?
Because of the dramatic effects of the law, many IAFF members can expect insurance carriers to notify you of changes in your policies, including span of coverage, benefits offered within the plans and the amount of out-of-pocket costs you will pay. Some of these changes will have to be negotiated with your local, particularly in jurisdictions where healthcare is a subject of bargaining. But in many cases, members can just expect to be notified by insurance carriers or employers of increases in costs and changes to benefits.
The IAFF is working with a coalition in labor, with other stakeholders and with our friends in Congress to amend the law to eliminate or lessen the negative effects of the ACA on your healthcare plans.
The most dramatic and long range threat is the excise or “Cadillac” tax that will impose a 40 percent tax on high value plans beginning in 2018. This excise tax will apply to plans that charge premiums of $10,200 or more for single coverage or $27,500 or more for families. The tax will apply to amounts in excess of the thresholds. The tax will be imposed on the insurance companies that sell the plans, rather than on the plan participants. However, we expect that insurers will simply either stop offering high-quality plans, causing a reduction in benefits, or they will pass the cost on to our members.
The law also creates many problems for our self-funded/union-administered plans going forward, which will affect our members and their benefits. Your union remains at the forefront in trying to significantly change or repeal these portions of the law to protect your interests. Over the coming months and years, we will need to engage our grassroots network and communications efforts to win these battles.
The IAFF continues to believe that reform of the healthcare system in the United States is necessary to control the rising costs that plagued our members even prior to passage of the ACA. However, we promise to continue fighting on your behalf to fix the many problems that exist in the current law.
Over the coming weeks and months, the IAFF will be providing extensive communication, reference materials, tools and support to our affiliates and members, explaining in detail the provisions of the new law and help you develop and implement strategies for dealing with the ACA in bargaining or when talking with local decision makers, because there are many ways we can work to mitigate the negative effects that the new law will bring.
Stay tuned to www.iaff.org and watch your email for future updates.
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
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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.
To All IAFF Local Leaders:
Contact Information for IAFF 1st District Vice
(631) 893-9116 (Office)
(917) 834-1414 (Cell) email@example.com
Talking points with respect to S1913 and A3074:
The biggest point is that the legislature should reverse the Richardson Case from 2007. This case changed the criteria for what constitutes an accidental disability thus opening the door for a much easier avenue for members of a pension system to claim a job related disability.
If this were to be repealed, it would go a long way to correcting the issues with the disability pensions.
Other areas of issue:
1. A committee of 26 will not get anything done! Each system already has a board that oversees the system, there is no need to add an additional board.
2. Each system should be responsible for themselves. PERS should not be determining a disability pension for PFRS and likewise.
3. Any reference to Social Security Benefits must be removed, since Firefighters do not pay into social security therefore are not eligible to receive social security benefits.
4. Changing the eligibility years from 4 to 10 for an ordinary disability does a disservice to the firefighter workforce. If a member suffers an injury with prior to completing 10 years and it is not a traumatic injury that member would get no pension. Our profession puts us at harms way every time we go to work. The legislation should not change the number of years.
5. Reducing the disability pension of a firefighter who is no longer able to perform firefighting duties because he or she was able to supplement their income in other ways is disrespectful and unwarranted.
It's a slap in the face to those dedicated firefighters who were injured while serving the public because this legislation would decrease their disability pension if they were to go out and get extra income to provide for their families.
6. The one size fits all about the legislation is wrong. A firefighter or EMS workers level of risk is much greater than a teacher or office worker. The Pension systems must be treated different and separate. If our job functions weren't different, there wouldn't be different systems.
To NJ PERC Constituents, Labor Relations Professionals and Interested
Parties: PERC has modified the Unfair Practice Charge Form, and asks parties to utilize the new form immediately. The changes to the form include hyperlinks, space for a second respondent, and details about the status of negotiations, if any. Additionally, the form seeks more specific information about matters at PERC or other forums that are based upon the same facts alleged in the charge. We hope the new form will expedite
processing of charges.
here for a downloadable and printable IAFF document
and Demonstration of Interest"
for those individuals wishing to learn
and affiliate with the International Association of Fire Fighters...
Kindly fill out the form and then mail it to the
State Association Office