Association of Fire Fighters State Association
on the Front Line Protecting "New Jersey's Bravest"-- --Established 1929--
of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO
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
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 email@example.com.
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Make Your Voice Heard:
What's New at the PFANJ:
Nominate Tim Colacci for Police and Firemen's Retirement System (PFRS) Trustee
To All Active Members: Tim has served with the utmost dedication since being elected to the PFRS Board of Trustees. Tim is an advocate and asset for all firefighters and police officers. Tim has earned the respect of the other board members and that was shown when Tim was appointed by the other members of the board to be the Chairman of the PFRS Board of Trustees.
A way of thanking Tim for his dedication and accomplishments is to nominate him as a candidate for the PFRS Board. Although this is the first step and an election will be held next year, I ask you to all to nominate Tim.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR NOMINATING A CANDIDATE FOR THE PFRS ELECTION:
Timothy Colacci is seeking to become a candidate for an upcoming election to serve as your
firefighting representative on the PFRS Board of Trustees. Nominations to support your
choice for a candidate are now made electronically through a secure website. The process is
very easy and it only takes a few minutes to support the candidate of your choice. You just
need to have access to a computer and log on to https://vote.election-america.com/PFRS-Fire/ and follow the simple directions. The only information you will need to provide is the last 4 digits of your social security number, the first 4 letters of your last name, and your year/month of birth. The list of those declaring their interest in being a candidate will then be available for your selection.
In accordance with N.J.A.C. 17:4-1.4, in order to nominate a candidate for the Firefighting position on the PFRS Board, you must be an active Firefighting member of the PFRS.
Please register your support for your candidate as soon as possible!
Nominations must be submitted by no later than 4:00 p.m. Friday, December 4, 2015.
PLEASE REGISTER YOUR NOMINATION FOR: TIMOTHY COLACCI
Holiday Safety Tips From The IAFF & PFANJ
November 21, 2015
To all PFANJ Members and Their Families
From Dominick Marino, President, PFANJ
Brothers and Sisters,
Over the last day or so, some of the Locals have contacted the PFANJ about a rally planned for Monday. I wanted to make sure all of the members of the PFANJ understand why we are not participating in the “rally” on Monday concerning the Zadroga bill.
The PFANJ, IAFF staff (including President Schaitberger directly) and Local 94 and 854 have been working on moving the Zadroga bill forward for months.
The IAFF has been intimately, politically and legislatively involved, lining up votes from across the country utilizing our membership in every state to pressure their Congressional delegations to sign onto the bill. Our International has been working hand-in-hand with Locals 94 and 854. President Schaitberger authorized the creation of multiple videos for TV and internet communications to thank multiple key lawmakers and to push others to sign onto the bill as co-sponsors. The IAFF funded and executed an ad buy in the Milwaukee Journal just prior to the last Republican debate asking the participants where they stand on the bill.
Our union at every level has been holding a number of DC/Capitol Hill events and lobbing days with busloads of our NYC brothers and sisters, our District Vice President Bill Romaka and many leaders called into DC by the IAFF from across the country to target specific Senators and Representatives for signing on. The video, TV and Internet communications have been out and posted on all the PFANJ social media outlets and on all the IAFF affiliates social media outlets for quite some time. The IAFF and PFANJ have been working closely with the NYC leadership who has been on the point on Zadroga from the beginning of this re-authorization consideration. And the IAFF has been coordinating their work and supporting the Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act.
Because of the efforts of the PFANJ in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut IAFF State Presidents and the New York City locals we have been successful in getting every member of the Senate and House from these states to sign onto the bill.
Overall, because of all this combined effort noted above, the Zadroga Act has 66 Senate cosponsors and more than 253 House cosponsors. That means the bill to renew the Zadroga Act has almost unprecedented bipartisan support and would easily pass if it gets to a floor vote. And the IAFF reports that according to Senator Schumer, lead advocates for renewal were negotiating with House and Senate leaders in order to get the bill to the House floor for a vote before departing in December for the holidays.
Simply put, since the entire New Jersey Congressional delegation has already signed on, and because our IAFF staff in DC says we have the bill where we want it, we are concerned that a "rally" right now is not needed. Our members have done their part on this issue and to ask them to rally for an issue that we have successfully garnered support for already seems to be an unnecessary event. Since we need key committee chairs from both parties to move this critical bill through Congress before the Christmas break, a rally in those areas would better serve our Nations firefighters and first responders.
That’s why your PFANJ Leadership have decided that this “rally” isn’t what’s needed right now and we are not participating. Let me know if you have any concerns or questions.
Thank you for your support throughout the process of getting this important bill passed. I’ll provide an update when new information is available.
The Burn Team invites you to attend the 29th Annual Firefighter Safety Seminar Saturday, January 9, 2016
Saint Barnabas Medical Center
8:30 AM – 3:00 PM
Featured topics include:
“The Strategic Six in the First Five” Lieutenant Mike Daley; Monroe TWP FD
“Normalization of Deviance & FF Behavior & Injury”Lieutenant John Dixon; Teaneck FD
“Plan for an event, Prepare for an Incident” District Fire Chief Dennis Costin Boston Fire Special Operations Command Hazmat/WMD
Kindly contact BH Call Center 1-888-724-7123 no later than January 6, 2016 to register
Due to on-going construction, parking only available Barnabas Health Corporate,
opposite the Emergency Department entrance
Washington, DC – U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), one of the cosponsors of the James Zadroga Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act spoke on the Senate floor late yesterday to underscore the need for Congress to reauthorize and fully fund the bill, which provides funding for first responders and survivors who have suffered 9/11-related illnesses since 9/11.
In September, Booker joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers from the U.S. Senate and House along with more than 100 first responders and survivors and former Daily Show host Jon Stewart to push Congress to pass a full and permanent extension of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act which expired at the end of September.
IAFF Dispatch - Episode 3
This episode highlights the federal grants available through the IAFF to improve fire fighter and public safety, looks at the increasingly complex wildland fire fighting environment and shows how who sits in the highest office in the land affects the everyday work-lives of IAFF members.
Another Ground Zero worker, Roy McLaughlin, died Sept. 10, one day before the anniversary. McLaughlin, 38, was a Yonkers police officer when the World Trade Center was attacked. Later promoted to a lieutenant, the married father of four young children was diagnosed with brain cancer five years ago.
The 12 recent deaths add a sense of urgency to efforts to renew legislation that provided medical care to rescue workers and other first responders who became ill as a result of their work at Ground Zero, advocates say. That legislation, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, expired Sept. 30.
9/11 Health Authorization Expires While Congress Dithers
Call your members of Congress at the Capitol switchboard at
(202) 224-3121 or go to the "Take Action" tool to urge lawmakers
to renew the World Trade Center Health program.
Despite scores of bipartisan cosponsors, Congress missed an important deadline September 30 to reauthorize the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to fund the World Trade Center Health Program, which has provided health monitoring and treatment for tens of thousands of responders and survivors of 9/11. More than 72,000 Americans currently participate in the program, including 33,000 who are sick or injured.
Although the authorization has expired, the program is expected to have enough money to continue operating into 2016. However, as money continues to run low, responders and survivors may experience a diminution of services as administrators shift their focus from providing care to shutting down the program.
There is a solution. Introduced by Senators Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in the Senate, and Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Peter King (R-NY) in the House, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act would permanently reauthorize the World Trade Center Health Program, as well as its sister program, the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund.
The IAFF has lobbied hard for the bill -- earlier this month, IAFF members, including many from Locals 94 and 854 -- stormed the Hill soliciting support for the Act, but as of yet, neither the House nor the Senate has scheduled the measure for a vote. The IAFF is calling on members to contact their members of Congress and tell them to cosponsor the Zadroga 9/11 Reauthorization Act and demand that their leadership schedule a vote today.
The Zadroga Act that helps victims and first responders of the 9/11 atacks with related health problems expired at midnight Wednesday, September 30th.
Congress did not approve an extension or make the law permanent.
The federal health benefits affect around 70,000 people. The original act only covered five years of care, but was later extended.
Some lawmakers said there is enough funding to keep assistance going for another year.
Advocacy groups disagree, and fear funding will run out sooner than that.
For now, first responders who rushed to the World Trade Center after the 2001 terrorist attacks, worked for weeks and now suffer from illnesses like pulmonary disease and cancers will still be able to get their health care.
But federal officials who administer the program say it will face challenges by February and will have to start shutting down by next summer.
Letting the program expire creates "enormous anxieties and fears in the minds of very sick people," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who has been lobbying her colleagues to make the program permanent and recently was joined by comedian Jon Stewart.
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
***Health Benefit Changes*** State Health Benefits Plan
Fall 2015 and January 2016
Moderate Premium Increases --on average rates will increase by 4.5% for state employees and 6.0% for local government workers though the actual premiums for family and employee/child coverage will increase more than single and employee/spouse/partner coverage.
Pilot Project - Direct Primary Care Medical Homes (voluntary) -- union members, early retirees, and family members in any non-HMO plan can join this new pilot program any time during the year. It features no copays for members and dependents and 24/7 access to a physician.
The patient load for doctors will be reduced from the typical level of 2500 patients per doctor to less than a 1000 per doctor allowing for much more regular interaction between patient and doctor, especially allowing doctors to provide more help to those with chronic conditions.
It is anticipated that these intensive primary care efforts will keep members healthier, improve the quality of healthcare, and produce significant savings by reducing the need for specialist referrals, ER visits, and hospital admissions.
The pilot will operate for three years with a goal of 60,000 members participating among south, central and northern pilots. The quality and cost of the pilot will be evaluated by an independent group with the option to expand the effort if it is successful.
This initiative is believed to improve health quality and achieve both immediate and long-term savings for members.
Participation by members in the pilot is entirely voluntary and the member retains the ability to visit any specialist or facility while participating in the pilot. The pilot starts on April 1, 2016.
New Horizon & Aetna Tiered (limited) Network Options –this new option will be available starting on 1/1/16 to members who are seeking a lower premium plan. Members can choose this option during open enrollment--no one will be compelled to join.
The Tiered (aka Narrow or Limited) Network plan will have two tiers of coverage – a smaller tier 1 network for full coverage and a tier 2 network that includes all current NJ Direct providers but with much higher copays, co-insurance (20% by member), deductibles ($1500), and maximum out of pockets ($4500) than in Tier 1.
Like an HMO, the tiered network plan will have no out of network coverage. However, any participant that goes to a Tier 1 hospital or facility is guaranteed no balanced billing from an out of network doctor working at the in-network hospital or facility.
This plan will cost 25% less than NJ Direct 15, and is a better alternative to a High Deductible plan; however participants must be careful to be sure that their physician and necessary services are in the tier one network. The Tier One network will include 12 hospital systems with over thirty locations; located only in New Jersey.
This plan will not be for everyone. The Tiered Network option will feature sharply reduced (25%) member premiums -- without cost shifting to members, if you're careful and use Tier One providers.
Hepatitis C Drugs -- effective October 1, 2015 we agreed to use a Step Therapy approach for the newest, very effective and very expensive Hepatitis C drugs. The drug for which Express Scripts negotiated significant cost reductions, Viekira Pak, will be the first choice for treatment. If it doesn't work, has side effects that are not tolerated, or there is a medical reason to use another drug, members can go on to another of the new medications.
Members in a course of treatment with one of the other drugs prior to implementation of the new step therapy program will continue with that course of treatment.
Since a course of the new Hepatitis C treatment costs around $80,000 to $90,000 and Express Scripts appears to be able to reduce these costs by nearly a third with step therapy, this was a smart move.
Limiting Compound Drugs --compound drug costs have exploded, rising over 1000% over three years primarily from boiler room type huckstering for creams that are supposed to stop pain. Very few of these compound drug treatments have been tested for effectiveness or safety. The use of these topical compound drugs will be significantly restricted. Compound drugs will still be available for those who cannot take an FDA approved drug by the normal means of delivery, are allergic to an ingredient, or whose medical conditions prohibits the use of the prescribed (non-compound) drug. The new rules will be implemented sometime in the Fall 2015. This change alone kept premiums about 2% lower than they would have been otherwise.
ER Copays --Emergency Room copays will go up $25 effective 1/1/16 for all plans; however, the increased copay is waived for all patients under the age of 19, for any patient referred to the ER by a physician, and for any patient admitted to the hospital within 24 hours.
Chiropractic and Acupuncture Payments --in-network reimbursement for these two services will be increased to attract more in-network providers. Out of network reimbursement for these providers will be limited to 75% of the in-network reimbursement effective 1/1/16.
TO: All IAFF Affiliate Leadership,
Beginning earlier this year with our Presidential Forum in March, and as the campaign for president of the United States has ratcheted up significantly, your IAFF Executive Board has been discussing our union’s potential endorsement of a candidate for the most powerful job in the world.
That discussion has continued among our Executive Board - during the June and September Board meetings and as we have seen each other on the road and via conference calls. All through that time, our staff has continued to do their due diligence in researching all of the current candidates, including asking each to fill out a questionnaire, which are still coming in. And to ensure that our process included our members’ views and preferences, we conducted focus groups of IAFF members in August and recently completed a telephone survey of our members and officers.
Here’s where we are:
We all know that our members are a very diverse group politically, and the poll confirmed that. Our union is divided pretty evenly with about 1/3 Republican, 1/3 independent and 1/3 Democrat, with a slight tilt toward the conservative side of the scale overall. Because of that dynamic, we all also know that we will NEVER have unanimity among our members on who we support for president. And while we remain focused on making our endorsement based on our basket of issues, we must also be careful to not make an endorsement that could be counterproductive for our union based on our members’ views.
We always use our clear, simple principle – supporting candidates who support us, regardless of political party – as our core guide. As the field of declared candidates in the race unfolded, early on Hillary Clinton stood out as the one with the best record on fire service related issues, and that included the Republicans in the race, whose records on our issues are either terrible or non-existent.
Then, through the spring and summer, I continued to travel quite a bit as I normally do, sitting at kitchen and dinner tables, talking with our members and our leadership about what they are facing on the ground and the issues important to them. Our district vice presidents do the same. And what we were hearing more and more is that even though Hillary has a good record on our basket of issues from her time in the U.S. Senate, our members just do NOT support an endorsement of her at this time.
The other dynamic that has come strongly into play over the past couple of months is that one of this union’s greatest champions over the past 30 years – Vice President Joe Biden – has talked publicly about potentially getting in the race. With that as our backdrop, your Board recently decided to keep this union’s powder dry, for now, and not make an endorsement at this time.
While we didn’t intend to make this announcement publicly because we did not want to embarrass the Clinton campaign in any way, The New York Times got a hold of the story and printed it. Now that it’s public, I wanted to make sure you heard the whole story directly from me, as well.
What all of this really means is that our process works. In the end, we recognize and respect our members’ right to choose candidates based on issues that they decide are most important to them, but this union will continue our long-standing practice of making endorsements solely on our basket of issues related to our members’ jobs, safety and health and financial/retirement security.
Because we know the importance of having a president who is strong on our issues – FIRE and SAFER Act appropriations, PSOB and many other issues – being in the political game is critical for us. And at the appropriate time, with the right candidate on our issues, we will get in.
Looking ahead, as the campaign progresses, you will hear more from us as we continue with our process.
COLA’s for Firefighters Pension in New Jersey – A Contractual Right/State Obligation By Dominick Marino 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:
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.
Feb 3, 2015 - It’s the loophole through which New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been flying on private jets.
Christie’s personal travel habits, detailed in a New York Times article include a preference for Cessna Citation X flights, Four Seasons stays and champagne toasts, are all legally consistent with his state’s code of conduct for governors – as long as everything is paid for by friends.
“The governor may accept gifts, favors, services, gratuities, meals, lodging or travel expenses from relatives or personal friends that are paid for with personal funds,” the code reads.
Lately, those friends include King Abdullah of Jordan, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Republican superdonor Sheldon Adelson – all with big pockets and big toys, like the private jet Adelson had him fly with his family on during a 2012 trip to Israel, at the same time Adelson was trying to defeat a measure to legalize online gambling in New Jersey (Christie later signed the bill anyway).
Christie also added a provision to the state’s financial disclosure laws in a 2010 executive order that expressly permits him to accept travel and related expenses from foreign governments.
Apparently he wants the public to believe that when it comes to pensions, the buck stops elsewhere.
That’s wrong and he knows it.
It was Christie who in 2011 signed a law dramatically overhauling New Jersey’s public pension system, increasing the out-of-pocket contributions from workers and mandating a seven-year schedule of state payments to get the system back in the black.
Since the 2011 signing, everyone has been doing their part to follow the law, except Christie. He has decided the state simply cannot afford to live up to the terms of the law he signed and has cut $1.6 billion from the state’s obligation of $2.25 billion for the current fiscal year.
At the same time, Christie has found plenty of room in the budget for massive tax breaks for corporations and lining the pockets of the Republican Governors Association. The governor’s misplaced priorities are making the pension problem worse and doing nothing to improve New Jersey’s economy.
But Christie loves a scapegoat and wants the public to think firefighters, police officers and teachers are to blame for the pension problems, while he is the one shortchanging the bill. He wants the public to think these hard-working public employees don’t deserve a secure retirement.
The governor can point fingers all he wants, but it will likely be up to a court to sort through Christie’s smoke-and-mirrors approach to pensions. Three of the state’s largest pension funds are suing Christie and his administration for failing to make the legally required payments to the pensions.
According to Standard and Poor’s, the problem with the pension is not public employees and not the economy. It’s Christie not paying his bill. This from the ratings agency: “The long-term impact of continuation of a funding policy that allows the State to contribute less than the actuarially recommended contribution could impact, at some point, the Pension Plans’ ability to meet their obligations absent significant additional contributions by the State, increased investment returns, or actions or events resulting in reductions to liabilities of the Pension Plans.”
Firefighters and other public employees have been protesting the lack of required pension payments by the state for years. But we have always been told that the system was well managed and the strength of the markets would make up the difference. And, when dire predictions and alarms were issued by, among others, former State Treasurer Richard Leone in 1995, they too were dismissed.
Then in 1996 the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey, New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police and other public worker organizations filed a lawsuit on behalf of our workers concerning the default of pension payments required by the State and local municipalities. That lawsuit took many years to work its way through the court system, after many delays by the State of New Jersey. Finally the court ruled that although the proper pension payments were not being made, because no worker was yet denied a pension, there was no actual harm. The lawsuit was thus dismissed.
Currently, two of the three required contributors to the pension funds are fulfilling their obligations. Local governments have made their full required contributions, more than $1.4 billion according to the recent State bond filing. In fact, they’ve contributed twice as much as the state even though New Jersey owes more than twice as much as the local governments.
And of course, we fire fighters, police officers, and other state workers are contributing 100 percent of what we are required to. This is all that’s holding the pension system stable. That and the exponential increase of management fees also passed on to worker. The system boasts a net gain on the investments over the first 10 months of 2014 of 6.88 percent, right on target.
Clearly, if New Jersey had paid its full payments into its police and fire pension fund, instead of constantly skipping payments, the fund would be in substantially better shape. It should be obvious by now to everyone that Governor Christie is not interested in fixing the pension funding.
Any future schemes that include cutting benefits for firefighters and police officers are irresponsible. Firefighters and police officers are not eligible for Social Security Benefits; our pensions are all we have to retire on. Continually pointing fingers at firefighters and police officers and attempting to bully them will not solve the problems.
It is time for Christie to stop passing the buck and start paying his pension bill.
Dominick Marino is President of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey.
IAFF Calls Out Looters Of Public Pensions
Across America, state budgets are being balanced on the backs of current and former public employees by breaking commitments to fund their defined-benefit retirement plans. Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) is the latest to go this route, recently warning his state’s fire fighters, police officers, teachers and other public employees that he’ll propose skipping a couple (more) yearly installments against the state’s pension liability due to an unexpected revenue shortfall.
The Truth About Arbitration
Many politicians, local and state, want everyone to believe that binding arbitration is the reason local property taxes are high, when this simply is not true. Not daunted by the truth, the Governor and his allies are pushing for changes to binding arbitration that will reduce public safety, that will end innovative and cooperative approaches and will not save money nor preserve public safety and it certainly will not reduce your property taxes.
The truth is that arbitration is rarely used in the firefighter world as approximately 10% of the firefighter contracts over the last five years have been arbitrated and not negotiated. The truth is that binding arbitration exists because firefighters are not permitted by law to strike. When management and the bargaining group cannot agree on a contract, they must resort to binding arbitration, which is expensive for both management and labor. If these changes were instituted, more contracts would end in arbitration. This would increase the cost to local taxpayers not decrease it.
The push for these changes is a way to change the subject when the unpleasant truth is that the Governor is balancing the State’s budget on the backs of local property taxpayers by reducing aid to municipalities and school districts by more than $1.2 billion dollars in the current budget year. These cuts, and not arbitration, will raise your taxes and reduce your safety and quality of life.
Monday, March 31, 2014
To All PFANJ Members,
The existing arbitration law expired. The Governor vetoed the compromised bill minutes after it was put on his desk. The Senate agreed with his CV and voted to approve the changes in the bill. The Assembly as of this point has not agreed and does not plan on taking up the Governors CV.
Here is what is at stake:
The new law would have changed the process of choosing an arbitrator from a random to each party submitting three names of arbitrators from the special panel and if none of the names submitted were the same, the random process would then be used. If more than one name were the same the commission would then randomly choose from those names. THE GOVERNOR REMOVED THIS LANGUAGE AND REVERTED BACK TO THE RANDOM PROCESS
The new law would have changed the “base” salary meaning to not include non-salary economic issues, pension and health and medical insurance costs. THE GOVERNOR REMOVED THIS LANGUAGE AND REVERTED BACK TO THE OLD MEANING.
The new law would have included in the base salary the savings’ realized by a public employer as of result of: (1) increased employee contributions toward health and medical insurance premiums occurring in the fourth year, except if the increase in the employee contributions toward health and medical insurance premiums are not in the fourth year at the time of the new collective bargaining agreement, base salary shall include the savings realized in the most recent year of implementation of increased employee contributions toward health and medical insurance premiums; and (2) a reduction in force which occurred prior to the expiration of the collective negotiations agreement. In the case of savings realized by a public employer under paragraphs (1) or (2) of this subsection, an arbitrator may render an award which increases base salary items by more than 2.0 percent, but not more than 3.0 percent. THE GOVERNOR REMOVED THIS LANGUAGE AND REVERTED BACK TO THE OLD MEANING!
THE GOVERNOR INSERTED LANGUAGE TO ESTABLISH “ANOTHER” TASK FORCE TO DO ANOTHER STUDY!
The new law would have exempted those contracts that otherwise meet the criteria set forth in the old law from the provisions of the new law when negotiating a future contract. THE GOVERNOR REMOVED THIS LANGUAGE AND REVERTED BACK TO THE OLD LAW WHICH WOULD KEEP IN FORCE THE 2% CAP.
Update on COLA Court Case - 1/28/2014
Today James Mets ESQ. appeared as counsel for PFANJ in challenging the cessation of COLA before the Appellate Division in Berg v. State. Because of the large number of attorneys involved in this matter, the primary responsibility for presenting the argument rested on Kenneth Nowak of Zazzali Fagella and Ira Mintz of Weisman and Mintz. The parties agreed that presenting redundant arguments would only serve to annoy the Appellate Division Judges. In this regard, we intended to present only supplemental argument to what Mr. Mintz and Mr. Nowak presented if necessary.
The Judges made it very clear at the argument today that after Mr. Mintz and Mr. Nowak argued on behalf of all the union plaintiffs, no additional argument was necessary or needed. Based on the demeanor of the judges and the fact that any argument we could have made would have been cumulative rather than supplemental, our attorney elected to rely on what was presented as well as what was contained in the briefs presented on behalf of all union plaintiffs. (Indeed, the Judges did get annoyed when an attorney for the interveners insisted on presenting argument that was cumulative and cut off the argument rather quickly.)
The Judges were very interested in our arguments regarding whether the elimination of the COLA by Chapter 78 violates the Contracts Clause of the Federal and State Constitutions. This issue was never addressed at the trial court level, because the trial court Judge decided the case on other constitutional grounds. It is the attorneys’ opinion that based on the Judges questioning and interest in this issue, it is likely for the Judges to issue a decision remanding this matter back to the trial court for consideration of the Contracts Clause issue.
In addition, the Court requested that the parties submit supplemental briefs regarding the issue of whether or not the COLA amendments of 1997 have any relationship to the Internal Revenue Code. Our attorney will submit a brief on behalf of the PFANJ and Teamsters Local 97 (President John Gerow). Our brief is due two weeks from today. The State’s opposition brief is due two weeks from the day our brief is due. While our attorney cannot predict, it is his hope that the Appellate Division issues a quick decision after it receives the supplemental briefs.
Grant Applicants: Get Bid Specifications Ready Early
Review your grant application's requirements and get your bid specifications ready now. If you receive an award, this early preparation will help you to implement your grant as soon as possible and help ensure you are able to complete your project within the period of performance.
Start to draft a bid solicitation that encourages competition by not using proprietary vendor specifications. By avoiding the use of proprietary vendor specifications, you encourage competition, which may decrease your overall costs. For example, you can request bids for a new pumper and specify that it have an "independent front suspension." But specifying that the pumper have a particular name-brand independent front suspension would be a proprietary specification that would limit competition to those vendors that build trucks containing those particular items.
Avoid any real or apparent conflicts of interest in your procurements. Remember that no employee, officer, or agent of your organization, who has a real or even apparent conflict of interest (potential for personal gain), may participate in the selection of the contractor or vendor that will supply the grant-funded items or services. They cannot accept gifts, favors, or anything of monetary value from potential contractors.
Maintain written procurement procedures. Become familiar with and keep on file the written procurement procedures and standards for your organization. If you are unsure, check with your local or state government for procedures. All grantees must have procurement procedures that follow local or state procurement procedures AND meet Federal procurement law as outlined in 44 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 13.36.
Have a record system set up for the grant. Make sure that you have system established that will maintain your grant records accurately and securely while still being accessible. All Federal awards are subject to a possible audit or desk review.
The law is widely viewed as the most historic overhaul of the U.S. health care system since the inception of Medicare and Medicaid.
While the law’s primary goal is to increase the number of insured Americans, there are other provisions within the law that also have implications for IAFF members.
In order to help IAFF members better understand the law the IAFF has developed a What You Need to Know About the Affordable Care Act online resource of information, including an overview of the Affordable Care Act, answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs), an educational video about the ACA, strategies on negotiating health care and links to both government and industry sources such Healthcare.gov, the AFL-CIO and the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Firefighters represented by the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey strongly disagree with the governor’s agenda and his decisions because they threaten public safety.
The governor failed to take advantage of a federal grant program that would improve public safety and create jobs.
While the governor argues forcefully that he is doing what’s best for New Jersey residents, the reality is that he continues to do what’s best for himself, using his so-called reforms to promote himself on a national stage.
He also is spreading misinformation.
In his speech last week, the governor took credit for the improved funding level of the Police and Firemen Retirement System in New Jersey. But the reason the PFRS pension fund is doing better is because local municipalities are finally meeting their financial obligations and paying what they are required to pay into the system – just as the firefighters in this state have always done.
He also inferred that when the state pension funds reach 80 percent a state-established board of government officials and firefighters can vote to raise annual cost of living adjustments to pensions. While that’s technically possible – and would be a welcome change – it has not happened, and benefits won’t increase until harsh restrictions on the state board are loosened.
The governor shouldn't take credit for something he didn't’t do, but that hasn't’t stopped him in the past. Once again, the governor’s statements need careful fact-checking. Once again, his credibility has been damaged because he has climbed atop his bully pulpit to spread falsehoods.
He is not our state’s savior. He is merely a politician angling for his next job in public office – and he has a public employee pension, too.
Rather than constantly oppose public employees or hammer away at our rights and benefits, the governor should sit down with us to discuss public safety and the wages, rights and benefits of those sworn to protect communities throughout our state. But to this day the governor still has not met with the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey.
And that’s no lie.
NJTV Interview with PFANJ President Marino -
October 2, 2012
To All IAFF Local Leaders:
Contact Information for IAFF 1st District Vice
(631) 893-9116 (Office)
(917) 834-1414 (Cell) firstname.lastname@example.org
Talking points with respect to S1913 and A3074:
The biggest point is that the legislature should reverse the Richardson Case from 2007. This case changed the criteria for what constitutes an accidental disability thus opening the door for a much easier avenue for members of a pension system to claim a job related disability.
If this were to be repealed, it would go a long way to correcting the issues with the disability pensions.
Other areas of issue:
1. A committee of 26 will not get anything done! Each system already has a board that oversees the system, there is no need to add an additional board.
2. Each system should be responsible for themselves. PERS should not be determining a disability pension for PFRS and likewise.
3. Any reference to Social Security Benefits must be removed, since Firefighters do not pay into social security therefore are not eligible to receive social security benefits.
4. Changing the eligibility years from 4 to 10 for an ordinary disability does a disservice to the firefighter workforce. If a member suffers an injury with prior to completing 10 years and it is not a traumatic injury that member would get no pension. Our profession puts us at harms way every time we go to work. The legislation should not change the number of years.
5. Reducing the disability pension of a firefighter who is no longer able to perform firefighting duties because he or she was able to supplement their income in other ways is disrespectful and unwarranted.
It's a slap in the face to those dedicated firefighters who were injured while serving the public because this legislation would decrease their disability pension if they were to go out and get extra income to provide for their families.
6. The one size fits all about the legislation is wrong. A firefighter or EMS workers level of risk is much greater than a teacher or office worker. The Pension systems must be treated different and separate. If our job functions weren't different, there wouldn't be different systems.
To NJ PERC Constituents, Labor Relations Professionals and Interested
Parties: PERC has modified the Unfair Practice Charge Form, and asks parties to utilize the new form immediately. The changes to the form include hyperlinks, space for a second respondent, and details about the status of negotiations, if any. Additionally, the form seeks more specific information about matters at PERC or other forums that are based upon the same facts alleged in the charge. We hope the new form will expedite
processing of charges.
here for a downloadable and printable IAFF document
and Demonstration of Interest"
for those individuals wishing to learn
and affiliate with the International Association of Fire Fighters...
Kindly fill out the form and then mail it to the
State Association Office