May 2, 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:

Firefighter Cancer Registry Act Event w/ Sen. Menendez & Rep. Pascrell

As a member of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, Congressman Pascrell, is the lead cosponsor of H.R. 4625, Firefighter Cancer Act of 2016, which would establish a specialized national cancer registry to improve collection infrastructure and research activities related to monitoring and studying cancer incidence among firefighters. The Congressman and Senator Menendez will be having an event regarding the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act on Thursday. All PFANJ members are invited to attend.

DATE:
May 5, 2016 @ 10:30 a.m.

LOCATION:
Clifton Fire Station 5
51 Brighton Road, Clifton, NJ

WITH Senator Menendez, Congressman Pascrell and other stakeholders.


Millions Face Pension Cuts Thanks to Wall Street Recklessness
In October of 2008, while the economy was in the early stages of what the IMF called “the worst recession since World War II,” The Washington Post reported that the “stock market’s prolonged tumble has wiped out about $2 trillion in Americans’ retirement savings in the past 15 months, a blow that could force workers to stay on the job longer than planned.”

Thanks, in other words, to Wall Street’s reckless and criminal behavior, workers who were promised a secure retirement were cheated out of the benefits they worked hard — for decades — to attain.

Which brings us to 2016: Just over a week ago, The Washington Post reported (déjà vu?), “More than a quarter of a million active and retired truckers and their families could soon see their pension benefits severely cut — even though their pension fund is still years away from running out of money.”

Why? “Like many other pension plans,” Jonnelle Marte explains, “the Central States Pension Fund suffered heavy investment losses during the financial crisis that cut into the pool of money available to pay out benefits.” This fact has pushed what is “one of the nation’s largest pension funds” to “reduce benefits for retirees,” provided that such a move will “improve the solvency of the fund.”

If the Treasury Department approves the cuts, it would set a precedent that “could encourage dozens of other pension plans across the country that are facing financial struggles to make similar cuts.”


Supreme Court Broadens First Amendment Protections for Public Employees
Public employees can sue, claiming their civil rights were violated, as long as their employers thought a constitutional right was in play, the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled.

The decision was a victory for a New Jersey man, Jeffrey Heffernan, who was a police officer in Patterson, New Jersey, when the mayor was running for re-election.

Heffernan was demoted after city officials mistakenly assumed he was campaigning for a candidate who was running against the mayor.


Disappearing Pensions Hurt U.S. Economy as Well as Workers
Retirement has taken a back seat to corporate profitability for more than 40 years as the United States has embraced the reduction of pensions, and now the U.S. economy is paying the price with lowered productivity.

 

 




Senator Menendez Comments on Crisis in AC


Prieto Fires Back After Christie Calls for Him to Post Assembly Takeover Bill
The standoff over competing bills to have the state take over Atlantic City continued this week, with Assembly Speaker Vince Prieto (D-32) and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) failing to come to a compromise despite meeting in person to reach consensus. Following Governor Chris Christie’s dismissal of Prieto’s bill as hobbled by its lack of a 41-vote majority in the lower house, Prieto fired back Friday with a harsh appraisal of Christie’s standing with the public.



Prieto Fires Back at Christie on A.C. Takeover

Following Governor Chris Christie’s accusation he is using his opposition to the state takeover of Atlantic City as a political springboard, Assembly Speaker Vince Prieto (D-32) recently doubled down on his opposition to the bill. Christie has taken a hard line on the takeover along with sponsor and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), both calling it the city’s last alternative to bankruptcy.


Prieto Details the Many Ways Gov. Christie has Neglected his Job by Failing to Use Existing Authority to Help Atlantic City from NJ Assembly Democratic Office on Vimeo.


Ocean City Fire House Condemned
Some Ocean City firefighters are worried that shutting down an damaged Ocean City fire house will sacrifice public safety. NBC10’s Jersey Shore Bureau reporter Ted Greenberg shows us why local leaders disagree.



The 2016 Call to Convention packets were distributed via our State Delegate Meeting and U.S. mail to all PFANJ Locals.
In the event you have not received your Call to Convention, please notify the state office @ 609-396-9766 or via e-mail @ PFANJ@aol.com.

The Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey
2016 Annual Convention and Affiliate Leadership Seminar

Resorts Atlantic City
1133 Boardwalk
Atlantic City, New Jersey 08401

Seminar’s scheduled for this convention - Thursday, June 2, 2016:

Negotiating Health Care Benefits – Health care cost continues to rise.  This workshop reviews other strategies available that may help departments maintain their existing level of insurance in a manner that benefits both the employees and management.

Local Union Administration – Designed to help affiliate leaders achieve the goals of their locals, this course teaches the skills necessary to be effective in any role as a union officer.  Information is provided on the duties of each local union officer, as well as responsibilities of the executive board and other committees in the local and acquaints participants with the various services and assistance available from the IAFF.

To register for the seminars go to: 
https://my.iaff.org/Web/Events/Event_Display.aspx?EventKey=PEP2016_NJ  



IAFF Dispatch Season 2 Episode 1
In this episode: big news about two new data systems that provide updated, simple and easy to use interfaces for our members, the unique challenges facing our federal affiliates and the incredible success our great union achieves on our members’ behalf when our locals, state and provincial affiliates and our international offices are strong and unified.



Registration is open for the 2016 A. Michael Mullane Health and Safety Symposium, scheduled for May 19-20, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.

This two-day event features exceptional guest speakers from diverse backgrounds who will share their knowledge and experience on important health and safety topics, including heart disease, cancer, behavioral health and many more.

The Symposium carries forward the legacy of the late 3rd District Vice President A. Michael Mullane, whose 43 years of service was dedicated to providing all fire fighters the health and safety information they need for a long and prosperous career in this great profession.

Registration is $125.

For more information, visit the conference website or download an event flyer .

For additional information or questions contact Gregory Mackin at 617-343-3080 or greg.mackin@boston.gov .




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






Taking Orders for PFANJ Car Shields NOW Available Through the PFANJ Shop

Order NOW for April Delivery
-PFANJ/IAFF Locals Only-

Click Here for More Details





Safety Tips for Preventing TV Tip Over Accident
The IAFF and Nationwide Insurance have teamed up on a new safety campaign as part of Nationwide’s “Make Safe Happen” child safety initiative to educate and raise awareness of preventable childhood injuries and death.

For kids, furniture is like a mountain range waiting to be scaled. Dressers, televisions and even appliances can tip over and hurt a little climber.

This co-branded TV Tip Over campaign offers safety tips and other resources – including a public service announcement – to use to help educate the public about why it's important to make sure televisions and furniture are secure.


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.



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&


Watch Pilot Episode of Kitchen Table

The IAFF is pleased to announce the premiere episode of the Kitchen Table, a new program presented by the IAFF, which has been formatted to replicate the station visits that IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger makes as he travels across North America.

The pilot episode features a discussion on how generational differences, technology and social media have changed the way IAFF members want to receive information from their union.

 


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/


COLA’s for Firefighters Pension in New Jersey – A Contractual Right/State Obligation
By
The State of New Jersey entered into a contract with each firefighter on the day they were hired. As part of that employment contract, firefighters were promised a specified pension benefit after a career of service. For that retirement benefit, in addition to their service, firefighters were required to contribute a portion of their pay to fund the promised retirement benefits. The state, likewise, was committed to pay their portion of the cost of those retirement benefits.

From their first paycheck at hire, to their last paycheck at retirement, firefighters have never missed a pension payment. Firefighters have fully and faithfully met their obligations under the employment contract, both in service and in payment.

The state, on the other hand, beginning with Governor Whitman in the 80’s, decided to violate its own contract and failed to make annually required payments into the pension system. Up to that point the pension system was well funded and employer contributions modest. Like any unpaid debt, the amount owed grows over time, especially when compounded with interest.   Again and again state government chose to fund its immediate political priorities, by failing to live up to the payments it had contracted for, essentially borrowing from benefits promised to employees at retirement. After failing to consistently make State required payments to the retirement system, the debt has grown exponentially.   Actuarial calculations show that if the proper required payments had been made, the systems would be well funded.

Governor Christie, acknowledging this failure, enacted a law requiring the state to ramp up its payments to the full amount called for under the contract over a seven year period. Less than two years later, Governor Christie violated his own commitment under the law he championed, and declared the required payments unconstitutional. Once again money was borrowed from the employees’ futures to pay for current political priorities.

The question before the state Supreme Court now is: Can the state, after a firefighter has fully and faithfully met their obligations under a contract of the states making, simply renege, and fail to perform its contractual obligations to provide a COLA? For the Governor or any State Legislator to insert their personal opinion on what the Supreme Court ruling should be or what it would mean to the pension system is nothing more than a sound bite for their own political gains.

These Cost of Living Adjustments are important. Firefighters in New Jersey are not eligible for Social Security. If a firefighter and one of our New Jersey neighbors each retired with a benefit of $2,000 per month, after 30 years of 3% inflation, the New Jersey Social Security retiree would have a pension of $4,855. The firefighter pension would still be $2,000 — 60% less than the Social Security retiree.

Decisions have consequences. The state choosing to borrow from their employees future retirement benefits to fund today’s political priorities, for decades, is not and should not be sufficient reason to be relieved from its contractual obligations. If a person purchases a home and entered into a mortgage; failure to make those mortgage payments results in consequences.

We are a Nation of laws. Firefighters have lived up to their legal obligations under the contract; the state should be required to do the same. So fundamental is this principal that impairment of contracts is prohibited by the US Constitution.

Dominick Marino is the President of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey.  The Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey (PFANJ) is the IAFF charted state association in New Jersey representing nearly 3,500 career firefighters and more than 500 career emergency medical care providers in the Garden State.

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 6th 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.


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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.

Respectfully,

Dominick Marino


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

Breaking News:
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  • Prieto Extending Counter-Offer on A.C. Takeover

  • Christie Takes Aim at Union Contracts in Pitching Atlantic City Takeover

  • Atlantic City Fire Fighters, Police Won't Get Paid During Government Shutdown

  • Report: Gov. Christie's Travel Last Year Cost NJ Taxpayers Over $600,000

  • Union Leader Rips Christie for Skipping State Trooper’s Funeral

  • Christie Skips N.J. Trooper Funeral to Campaign for Trump

  • Bill Asks For More Money For Fallen N.J. Officers' Families

  • What Chris Christie Didn't Tell N.J. About Pension Payments: Opinion

  • Christie Pension Commission Calls for N.J. Public Worker Health Care Cuts

  • MacArthur Legislation to Preserve the 9/11 Memorial Passes Out of Committee

  • Two Storms, Three Years, Still No Home for O.C. Station No. 2

  • Ocean City Firefighters in Moldy, Rodent-Infested Trailer, Union Chief Alleges

  • How Many Workers Will the Cadillac Tax Hit?

  • Why You Have Less Time to Escape a House Fire Today than 30 Years Ago

  • Op-Ed: Deeper Debt Waiting for Taxpayers Due to Pension Irresponsibility

  • The Truth About N.J.'s Pension Crisis And How To Fix It | Opinion

  • Pension Challenge May Cost New Jersey Billions

  • Saving a $100M a Year by Joining State Health Benefits Plan

  • IAFF Responds to Fred McChesney Opinion Piece, “Fewer fires, so why are there far more firefighters?”

  • New Jersey State AFL-CIO Votes to Not Patronize Carl Icahn-Owned Taj Mahal & Tropicana Casinos

  • N.J. Supreme Court to Decide if Christie Violated Retired Public Worker Pension Rights

  • 3 Pension Funds Sue New Jersey for Billions in Damages

  • Christie's Sleight of Hand on Pension Payments | Opinion

  • Democratic Legislation Inspired by Recent Death of Cinnaminson Firefighter Gains Panel Approval

  • Death Of NJ Firefighter Inspires Push For Measure That Would Ensure Health Insurance Coverage For Families Of First Responders

  • What Chris Christie Didn't Tell N.J. About Pension Payments: Opinion

  • Opinion: Presto, Gov. Christie Shifts Blame For Pension Hole

  • Opinion: Christie Broke Promises To Police, Firefighters, N.J. Voters

  • Time to Stop Bulling Police and Firefighters!

  • Christie's Flat-Out Slander Against Teachers' Union: Editorial

  • NJ Gov. Chris Christie's Pension Moves Cost Taxpayers And Retirees Billions

  • Governor Christie Embraces Theft

  • 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

  • Christie Campaign Letter Promised 'No Harm' to Police, Firefighter Pensions

  • 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 Golf Outing
    May 31, 2016
    11:00 AM - 5:30 PM
    Atlantic City Country Club
    One Leo Fraser Drive Northfield, NJ 08225
    Click Here for a registration form.
    - Sponsorships Available-

    PFANJ Annual Convention and Affiliate Leadership Seminar
    May 31-June 3, 2016

    Resorts Casino-Hotel
    1133 Boardwalk
    Atlantic City, NJ 08401

    IAFF 53rd Bi-Annual Convention
    August 15-19, 2016

    Las Vegas, Navada

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


    IAFF Fallen Firefighter Memorial
    September 17, 2016
    Colorado Springs, Colorado

    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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