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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will endeavor to provide any needed information or address any concern in a
Welcome to IAFF Dispatch
The IAFF is proud to release the premiere episode of IAFF Dispatch, a new bi-monthly video news magazine that will highlight the good work of the IAFF, our affiliates and members.
The Bill makes changes to tax provisions allowing federal employees under special/ early retirement (fire fighters, federal law enforcement, air traffic controllers) to make TSP (401K plan) withdraws at age 50 (upon retirement) without a tax penalty.
The Bill also allows municipal public safety employees with DROP plans to roll over their DROP money into a 457 plan, and not have to worry about the 10% penalty.
The Bill will now go to the Senate for further action.
The IAFF legislative staff worked with several other labor unions and Rep. Reichert (R-WA) and other Ways and Means Committee members to get the Bill to the floor for a vote.
Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT) has introduced a bill to repeal this provision that was added to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) at the last minute, with little debate or careful consideration. The IAFF opposed the tax at the time, and remains opposed.
Firefighters To Atlantic City: Don’t Do It
In a city with 40,000 residents and on any given day upwards of 100,000 visitors, eliminating 85 Firefighters and slashing fire protection by 36% cannot be considered SAFE!
If the city of Atlantic City is allowed to slash 85 firefighters from their fire department, the lives of the 40,000 residents, hundreds of thousand visitors and the fire fighters themselves will be in peril.
Balancing the budget by sacrificing lives and property cannot be an option. By cutting the fire department by over 1/3 the administration is prioritizing politics over public safety. The administration should not be gambling on lives.
Sign the Petition to Stop Deregulation of New Jersey’s Telecom Industry The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and the telecommunication industry are attempting to quietly and quickly implement a proposal that would eliminate some of the few remaining consumer protections for local phone service. These actions will immediately harm our union brothers and sisters and members of the public.
CLICK HERE to sign a petition sponsored by IBEW 827 that urges the BPU to oppose the deregulation of local phone service.
Please also share this petition with your friends to help surpass the goal of 1,000 signatures.
Christie conditionally vetoed the bill (A1698), taking out its most substantial provisions and instead recommending that the state Department of Community Affairs study whether it should require sprinklers for only new townhouses.
"Mandating sprinkler installation would increase the upfront cost of every new freestanding home by thousands of dollars, even as this state's citizens continue the struggle to rebuild their lives after Superstorm Sandy," Christie wrote in his veto message. "That storm left unprecedented damage across the state in its wake, leaving whole communities devastated and entire houses demolished. This bill would further burden New Jerseyans rebuilding their homes after Superstorm Sandy."
Added Christie: "With all construction, the law must reach the right balance between safety and cost, and I am concerned about any bill that would jettison traditional considerations in place of an unyielding mandate."
But Christie said that it can be more affordable to install sprinkler systems in townhouses and that, since they're attached, there's more risk of a fire spreading from one house to another.
"If, after comparing the marginal cost of such devices with their marginal benefits, DCA determines that sprinklers in such structures are warranted, then DCA should amend the Uniform Construction Code as it deems appropriate," Christie wrote.
This is the second time Christie has vetoed the bill. In January 2014, at the end of he last legislative session, he let a previous version lapse without taking action.
(TRENTON) – In advance of Wednesday's Assembly Budget Committee hearing with the state Treasury Department, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) issued a multimedia package Tuesday in which he discusses the reasons behind his filing of an Amicus Brief stating that the Christie administration is ignoring the law and the legislative intent of the 2011 pension reform bill.
The multimedia package consists of Speaker Prieto's comments and audio and a transcript of same.
A transcript of Speaker Prieto's comments is appended below:
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto:
"The issue at hand is the pensions in the State of New Jersey.
"So, in 2011, we did reforms. And we changed the pension system, the way it was funded. Employees started paying more into the system. They actually then started paying for their health benefits. And, in turn, over a seven year period, we were going to do 1/7th payment every year to fully fund the pensions, to make up for all those years of non-payment – that pension holiday that the state took.
"So, we wanted to do the right thing.
"And last year, the Legislature did send a balanced budget that included all our obligations and, in turn, it was vetoed by the governor. Last year we put the minimum payment: $681 million. It was supposed to be $2.25 billion, which we actually figured out how to do that.
"He decided to veto it.
"When you are trying to change the game after it started, it's difficult. When people have invested their time, their life, their commitment to these jobs, you know, we owe them. And when we signed that law in 2011, we constitutionally said this is what's due to you. There is a contractual obligation.
"And Governor Christie, for him to now come and say that it's not constitutional, I think that is incorrect and that's why we were compelled to file that Amicus Brief, to show the courts that we are in support of what the unions are saying: that this was a contractual obligation.
"Remember this: these people took on jobs that didn't pay a lot. And one of the reasons they took the jobs was that there was some pension at the end of the day.
"The average state pension is $26,000, which is not a exorbitant amount of money. When they talk, 'we have one of the most lavish pensions,' there was just a report: out of the top 100 pension systems in the nation, we're 95th.
"We have to be mindful that these are not numbers. These are people. These are lives. These are real human beings. And now it is our obligation because they have been doing the right thing. They've been putting their money in.
"So, what this means for us is that we need to really get to the table, start working together, figure out where we can fund it; how we can fund it. How does the State of New Jersey meet all its obligations?
"We have revenue issues. We need to grow our economy. We need to do things so we can meet all our obligations and we definitely take care of these people that have been doing the right thing for many years and now we can't just hang them out to dry."
(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, John Wisniewski, Herb Conaway, Marlene Caride and Annette Quijano to help ensure medical coverage is not canceled abruptly for family members of deceased first responders was advanced by an Assembly panel on Thursday, March 19, 2015. The measure was inspired by the recent death of a Cinnaminson firefighter.
"Most of us go to work every day and never worry about whether we'll return home safely," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "For family members of first responders, this is a persistent fear every day. This is the least we can do to help honor the sacrifices their loved ones make day in and day out. Whether Lt. Hunter's death was a direct result of his official duties is immaterial given the constant sacrifices he made throughout his career."
Cinnaminson Fire Lt. Chris Hunter was found unresponsive at his home in mid-November, just hours after his last shift ended. The cause of death was attributed to a cardiac event. However, because it was ruled that he did not die in the line of duty, his family was not eligible for a continuation of medical coverage under his plan.
The bill (A4062) is designed to ensure a six-month continuation of family medical coverage for the spouse and dependents of a deceased police officer, firefighter or emergency medical technician who dies within 24 hours of going off duty. Under current law, the employee's family medical coverage terminates upon death because the employment was terminated.
The families of public safety officers who die in the line of duty are covered for medical insurance by other provisions of law. In order to ensure that the surviving spouse and dependents are not charged an excessive premium for the six-moth medical coverage extension, the bill requires the employer to negotiate an extended coverage provision with the medical insurance carrier.
"Firefighters and all others who willingly put themselves into dangerous situations sacrifice their personal health and wellbeing for the sake of their communities. That can often put a significant strain on their loved ones as well," said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), New Jersey Fire Safety Commission chair. "This legislation is about providing the families of emergency responders with some peace of mind."
"The men and women who protect New Jersey residents daily should never have to worry about whether their families would be secure in their absence," said Conaway (D-Burlington). "This measure will help ensure that family members in mourning can focus their attention on remembering their loved one, not navigating health insurance."
"Our public safety officers devote themselves to the safety of others," said Caride (D-Bergen / Passaic). "This bill will provide peace of mind to them and to their loved ones by eliminating the fear of a sudden cancellation of medical coverage. This is a well-deserved safety net for the families of those who serve our state."
"The cause of death – regardless of whether it's on- or off-duty – shouldn't overshadow a lifetime of self-sacrifice when it comes to New Jersey's public safety officers," said Quijano (D-Union). "This measure honors the courage of our state's most noble men and women by helping to ensure the wellness of their dependents."
The bill was advanced by the Assembly Labor Committee.
It’s been seven weeks since Cinnaminson firefighter Christopher Hunter died and his presence is still strongly felt throughout the department he served for more than 20 years.
“If it happened in this department he was involved in it and to try to bridge that gap has been a lot,” says Lt. Dean Jernigan.
Hunter’s wife has also had a lot to deal with including losing health insurance.
“She went to the doctor’s office with her son and found out that there was no health insurance,” says Danny Norman, president of the Burlington County Professional Fire Fighters Association.
On November 15th Lieutenant Hunter died at home from cardiac arrest after completing a shift.
Officials say because the 38-year-old died within 24 hours after a shift his death is considered “active duty” rather than in the line of duty.
His family has to pay $1,700 a month for COBRA coverage.
Hunter’s situation compelled New Jersey Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D- Mount Laurel) to file Bill A4062 which would allow families of firefighters, police and EMT’s who died on active duty to keep their health insurance for an extended period.
“When they get their health insurance a part of their negotiation is that they shall have a component of their health insurance that allows the continuation of coverage in active duty deaths for at least six months to allow folks some time to transition to get their own health insurance,” says Singleton.
This measure wouldn’t help Lt. Hunter’s family, but it could make a big difference for his co-workers and many first responders throughout New Jersey.
“If passed, I’m not going to see a benefit from it, but I want to make sure my kids are taken care of more than anything,” says Jernigan.
Singleton says the bill was filed in December and has not been assigned to a committee yet.
Anyone who would like to help Hunter’s family can donate to the Hunter Children Fund c/o the Cinnaminson Fire Department, 1725 Cinnaminson Ave, Cinnaminson, NJ 08077.
Public-Sector Unions to File Suit against Christie Administration for Failing to Follow Pension Funding Law in FY2016 Proposed Budget Action Follows Gov. Christie’s Intent to Violate Chapter 78 Law Again
The 14 unions below collectively announced today that they have instructed their attorneys to prepare papers to go back into court to require the Governor to comply with his legal obligations under Chapter 78 to make the State's Annual Required Contribution to the pension system for FY 2016.
Gov. Christie announced in his February 24, 2015 State Budget address his intention to violate the funding requirements of Chapter 78, the 2011 pension law that he negotiated, promoted and signed. The suit seeks to hold the Governor accountable to follow the law he signed. This is the third consecutive budget in which he has violated the contractual rights of pensioners, putting at risk the retirement security of our members.
“This governor’s continuing disregard for his own pension funding law leaves us no choice but to go back to court to resume this fight in court on behalf of hundreds of thousands of public-sector workers who make their full pension contributions and depend on the modest income they earn in retirement,” said New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech. “This governor’s illegal underfunding has brought the pension system to the brink of crisis and resulted in more credit downgrades than any previous governor in history. It’s a shame that this governor has decided to spend all his time courting Iowa caucus-goers, not addressing the serious problems plaguing his home state.”
Leaders of three large unions that will be part of the lawsuit shared their reactions:
American Federation of Teachers New Jersey (AFTNJ) President Donna M. Chiera: "The governor needs to meet his obligation so future generations of teachers, nurses and public safety workers can care for themselves after long productive careers of caring for others. New Jersey's working families and the court plainly see that the Governor's manufactured budget shortfall is a result of his refusal to hold millionaires and large corporations accountable to contribute their fair share to the State's treasury.”
New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) President Wendell Steinhauer: “Last year, the Legislature funded the pensions according to the law, and Gov. Christie vetoed it. Last month, the Court ordered that legally required funding and Gov. Christie defied it. It’s time to return to the rule of law in our state and to protect the future of hundreds of thousands of New Jersey families.”
Communications Workers of America (CWA) New Jersey Director Hetty Rosenstein: "Gov. Christie flippantly said he wants to 'flip the script.' But this isn't a House of Cards script. It's a legal obligation. And ignoring the law is what caused this very problem in the first place -- which will never get fixed so long as Christie refuses to meet both his moral and legal responsibilities.”
In February, Judge Mary Jacobson ordered the Christie administration to obey the law and make a $1.6 billion pension contribution this year. The suit seeks to hold the governor accountable to make the statutorily required pension payment of $3 billion in Fiscal Year 2016.
The following unions will be plaintiffs in the lawsuit:
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
Council 1 (AFSCME)
American Federation of Teachers New Jersey (AFTNJ)
Communications Workers of America (CWA)
Fraternal Order of Police (FOP)
Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE)
International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 194 (IFPTE)
International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 195 (IFPTE)
International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 200 (IFPTE)
New Jersey Education Association (NJEA)
New Jersey Principal and Supervisors Association
New Jersey State AFL-CIO
Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 32
Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey (PFANJ)
Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 225 Branch 4
A Message From PFANJ President Dominick Marino:
Months ago, we advised our membership that the coalition of unions collectively agreed to not meet with the governor’s pension commission because all systems are not equal. Unfortunately, a few groups broke from the rest and met with the commission. The coalitions thought process was that the committee would not treat the systems differently and would “paint” a picture with a wide brush. We have been down this road before with Governor Christie’s previous commissions that did not listen to any suggestions of unions.
Since the Governor’s 2015 Budget Address, much has been said by various unions and legislators. Some have had their words and opinions printed and others have not. Some groups have come out condemning the NJEA. Other groups, PFANJ included, meet with the NJEA to discuss the supposed deal they were working on.
We must be clear of one thing. What a group decides to do on behalf of their members is entirely that group’s decision. Each group is responsible to operate in the best way they feel is appropriate for their membership, whether other groups agree with their direction or not. Now is not the time to divide the labor movement more in New Jersey. Labor must continue to work, although difficult, as collectively as possible. After meeting with the NJEA and having them explain their position and what has transpired from their meeting with the Governor’s Pension Commission, it is safe to say that the NJEA was “used” by the Governor to push a wedge between the unions in this state.
What matters is not what the Governor or his commission is or has said. What matters is how the legislature responds to it. And let us all remember something, the UNIONS won in court. The judge has ordered the state to make the proper payments into the pension systems. What we and the rest of the labor unions have been saying all along is that the money has to be put in and all systems are different. Once that is achieved the systems will begin to “heal” and move in the right direction.
The legislators are hearing us!
Senator Sweeney and other legislators have publicly stated that the pension systems are very different and what “might” work for one doesn’t necessarily work for another. He has also stated that no matter what direction forward the legislature moves on with regard to the pension systems the money has to be put in.
We remain committed to working with all those legislators who are willing to work with us.
Today, the Honorable Mary C. Jacobson, A.J.S.C. granted the Plaintiffs motion for summary judgment in Burgos v. State of New Jersey. This case was filed by a coalition of public sector unions in response to Governor Christie's failure to make the full amortization payment to the pension funds in both fiscal year 2014 and fiscal year 2015, despite the requirement that he do so set forth in
P.L. 2011, c. 78. (Chapter 78). The Court took the Governor to task, stating: "the Court cannot allow the State to 'simply walk away from its financial obligations,' especially when those obligations were the State's own creation."
The Court determined that the State's failure to make the full amortization payment as part of its contribution to the pension system for fiscal year 2015 as required by N.J.S.A. 43:3C-
9.5 (which was amended as part Chapter 78), impairs the Plaintiffs rights under the Contracts Clause of the New Jersey Constitution. As a result, the Court directed the Defendants, including Governor Chris Christie and Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff to work with the Legislature to satisfy this obligation. In addition, the Court ordered that Plaintiffs be reimbursed for attorneys' fees and costs.
This is an important win for public employees throughout the State. Defendants have forty-five (45) days to determine if they will appeal this decision.
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 will expire as of midnight tonight. The Governor vetoed the compromised bill minutes after it was put on his desk. The Senate agreed with his CV and voted to approve the changes in the bill. The Assembly as of this point has not agreed and does not plan on taking up the Governors CV.
Here is what is at stake:
The new law would have changed the process of choosing an arbitrator from a random to each party submitting three names of arbitrators from the special panel and if none of the names submitted were the same, the random process would then be used. If more than one name were the same the commission would then randomly choose from those names. THE GOVERNOR REMOVED THIS LANGUAGE AND REVERTED BACK TO THE RANDOM PROCESS
The new law would have changed the “base” salary meaning to not include non-salary economic issues, pension and health and medical insurance costs. THE GOVERNOR REMOVED THIS LANGUAGE AND REVERTED BACK TO THE OLD MEANING.
The new law would have included in the base salary the savings’ realized by a public employer as of result of: (1) increased employee contributions toward health and medical insurance premiums occurring in the fourth year, except if the increase in the employee contributions toward health and medical insurance premiums are not in the fourth year at the time of the new collective bargaining agreement, base salary shall include the savings realized in the most recent year of implementation of increased employee contributions toward health and medical insurance premiums; and (2) a reduction in force which occurred prior to the expiration of the collective negotiations agreement. In the case of savings realized by a public employer under paragraphs (1) or (2) of this subsection, an arbitrator may render an award which increases base salary items by more than 2.0 percent, but not more than 3.0 percent. THE GOVERNOR REMOVED THIS LANGUAGE AND REVERTED BACK TO THE OLD MEANING!
THE GOVERNOR INSERTED LANGUAGE TO ESTABLISH “ANOTHER” TASK FORCE TO DO ANOTHER STUDY!
The new law would have exempted those contracts that otherwise meet the criteria set forth in the old law from the provisions of the new law when negotiating a future contract. THE GOVERNOR REMOVED THIS LANGUAGE AND REVERTED BACK TO THE OLD LAW WHICH WOULD KEEP IN FORCE THE 2% CAP.
Update on Lawsuit on Health Care Cost and Final Compensation Determination 2/4/2014
To all members:
The following is an update on our lawsuit against the state with respect to P.L. 2010,c.2:
On January 31, 2014, the Appellate Division issued a decision in Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey, Teamsters Local 97, NJ Fraternal Order of Police, NJ State PBA, FMBA and the NJEA v. State of New Jersey, et. als. These cases challenged Judge Feinberg’s January 20, 2011 decision granting the State’s motion to dismiss the Complaints challenging the imposition of P.L. 2010 c.1,2 and 3; 1.5% contribution for Health Care, change in definition of final compensation for pension purposes
The Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s decision and dismissed the Complaints.
Our next available avenue for appeal is to the New Jersey Supreme Court. The New Jersey Supreme Court only hears a small number of cases each year. It can, and does, refuse to hear most cases that are brought before it. We will be evaluating with Teamster Local 97 President, whether or not we should appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court. We will keep you updated.
Update on COLA Court Case - 1/28/2014
Today James Mets ESQ. appeared as counsel for PFANJ in challenging the cessation of COLA before the Appellate Division in Berg v. State. Because of the large number of attorneys involved in this matter, the primary responsibility for presenting the argument rested on Kenneth Nowak of Zazzali Fagella and Ira Mintz of Weisman and Mintz. The parties agreed that presenting redundant arguments would only serve to annoy the Appellate Division Judges. In this regard, we intended to present only supplemental argument to what Mr. Mintz and Mr. Nowak presented if necessary.
The Judges made it very clear at the argument today that after Mr. Mintz and Mr. Nowak argued on behalf of all the union plaintiffs, no additional argument was necessary or needed. Based on the demeanor of the judges and the fact that any argument we could have made would have been cumulative rather than supplemental, our attorney elected to rely on what was presented as well as what was contained in the briefs presented on behalf of all union plaintiffs. (Indeed, the Judges did get annoyed when an attorney for the interveners insisted on presenting argument that was cumulative and cut off the argument rather quickly.)
The Judges were very interested in our arguments regarding whether the elimination of the COLA by Chapter 78 violates the Contracts Clause of the Federal and State Constitutions. This issue was never addressed at the trial court level, because the trial court Judge decided the case on other constitutional grounds. It is the attorneys’ opinion that based on the Judges questioning and interest in this issue, it is likely for the Judges to issue a decision remanding this matter back to the trial court for consideration of the Contracts Clause issue.
In addition, the Court requested that the parties submit supplemental briefs regarding the issue of whether or not the COLA amendments of 1997 have any relationship to the Internal Revenue Code. Our attorney will submit a brief on behalf of the PFANJ and Teamsters Local 97 (President John Gerow). Our brief is due two weeks from today. The State’s opposition brief is due two weeks from the day our brief is due. While our attorney cannot predict, it is his hope that the Appellate Division issues a quick decision after it receives the supplemental briefs.
Grant Applicants: Get Bid Specifications Ready Early
Review your grant application's requirements and get your bid specifications ready now. If you receive an award, this early preparation will help you to implement your grant as soon as possible and help ensure you are able to complete your project within the period of performance.
Start to draft a bid solicitation that encourages competition by not using proprietary vendor specifications. By avoiding the use of proprietary vendor specifications, you encourage competition, which may decrease your overall costs. For example, you can request bids for a new pumper and specify that it have an "independent front suspension." But specifying that the pumper have a particular name-brand independent front suspension would be a proprietary specification that would limit competition to those vendors that build trucks containing those particular items.
Avoid any real or apparent conflicts of interest in your procurements. Remember that no employee, officer, or agent of your organization, who has a real or even apparent conflict of interest (potential for personal gain), may participate in the selection of the contractor or vendor that will supply the grant-funded items or services. They cannot accept gifts, favors, or anything of monetary value from potential contractors.
Maintain written procurement procedures. Become familiar with and keep on file the written procurement procedures and standards for your organization. If you are unsure, check with your local or state government for procedures. All grantees must have procurement procedures that follow local or state procurement procedures AND meet Federal procurement law as outlined in 44 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 13.36.
Have a record system set up for the grant. Make sure that you have system established that will maintain your grant records accurately and securely while still being accessible. All Federal awards are subject to a possible audit or desk review.
The law is widely viewed as the most historic overhaul of the U.S. health care system since the inception of Medicare and Medicaid.
While the law’s primary goal is to increase the number of insured Americans, there are other provisions within the law that also have implications for IAFF members.
In order to help IAFF members better understand the law the IAFF has developed a What You Need to Know About the Affordable Care Act online resource of information, including an overview of the Affordable Care Act, answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs), an educational video about the ACA, strategies on negotiating health care and links to both government and industry sources such Healthcare.gov, the AFL-CIO and the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Links to the NJ Division of Pensions and Benefits Health Benefits Handbooks may be found here
In the NJ Direct Handbook those preventative services which are mandated by the National Health Reform to be covered without co-payment are listed on pages 76, 77, and 81.
NJ State Health Benefits Mobile Phone Applications Aetna, CIGNA, and Horizon have developed applications for the iPhone, smartphones, and other web-enabled mobile devices to provide State Health Benefits Program (SHBP) members with plan information "on the go."
Medco Health Solutions, Inc. has also developed the Medco Pharmacy mobile app for its Prescription Plan, now available at no cost on BlackBerry® and Android™ smartphones using the Verizon Wireless network.
CHAPTER 330 RETIREES
Firefighters represented by the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey strongly disagree with the governor’s agenda and his decisions because they threaten public safety.
The governor failed to take advantage of a federal grant program that would improve public safety and create jobs.
While the governor argues forcefully that he is doing what’s best for New Jersey residents, the reality is that he continues to do what’s best for himself, using his so-called reforms to promote himself on a national stage.
He also is spreading misinformation.
In his speech last week, the governor took credit for the improved funding level of the Police and Firemen Retirement System in New Jersey. But the reason the PFRS pension fund is doing better is because local municipalities are finally meeting their financial obligations and paying what they are required to pay into the system – just as the firefighters in this state have always done.
He also inferred that when the state pension funds reach 80 percent a state-established board of government officials and firefighters can vote to raise annual cost of living adjustments to pensions. While that’s technically possible – and would be a welcome change – it has not happened, and benefits won’t increase until harsh restrictions on the state board are loosened.
The governor shouldn't take credit for something he didn't’t do, but that hasn't’t stopped him in the past. Once again, the governor’s statements need careful fact-checking. Once again, his credibility has been damaged because he has climbed atop his bully pulpit to spread falsehoods.
He is not our state’s savior. He is merely a politician angling for his next job in public office – and he has a public employee pension, too.
Rather than constantly oppose public employees or hammer away at our rights and benefits, the governor should sit down with us to discuss public safety and the wages, rights and benefits of those sworn to protect communities throughout our state. But to this day the governor still has not met with the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey.
And that’s no lie.
NJTV Interview with PFANJ President Marino -
October 2, 2012
To All IAFF Local Leaders:
Contact Information for IAFF 1st District Vice
(631) 893-9116 (Office)
(917) 834-1414 (Cell) email@example.com
Talking points with respect to S1913 and A3074:
The biggest point is that the legislature should reverse the Richardson Case from 2007. This case changed the criteria for what constitutes an accidental disability thus opening the door for a much easier avenue for members of a pension system to claim a job related disability.
If this were to be repealed, it would go a long way to correcting the issues with the disability pensions.
Other areas of issue:
1. A committee of 26 will not get anything done! Each system already has a board that oversees the system, there is no need to add an additional board.
2. Each system should be responsible for themselves. PERS should not be determining a disability pension for PFRS and likewise.
3. Any reference to Social Security Benefits must be removed, since Firefighters do not pay into social security therefore are not eligible to receive social security benefits.
4. Changing the eligibility years from 4 to 10 for an ordinary disability does a disservice to the firefighter workforce. If a member suffers an injury with prior to completing 10 years and it is not a traumatic injury that member would get no pension. Our profession puts us at harms way every time we go to work. The legislation should not change the number of years.
5. Reducing the disability pension of a firefighter who is no longer able to perform firefighting duties because he or she was able to supplement their income in other ways is disrespectful and unwarranted.
It's a slap in the face to those dedicated firefighters who were injured while serving the public because this legislation would decrease their disability pension if they were to go out and get extra income to provide for their families.
6. The one size fits all about the legislation is wrong. A firefighter or EMS workers level of risk is much greater than a teacher or office worker. The Pension systems must be treated different and separate. If our job functions weren't different, there wouldn't be different systems.
To NJ PERC Constituents, Labor Relations Professionals and Interested
Parties: PERC has modified the Unfair Practice Charge Form, and asks parties to utilize the new form immediately. The changes to the form include hyperlinks, space for a second respondent, and details about the status of negotiations, if any. Additionally, the form seeks more specific information about matters at PERC or other forums that are based upon the same facts alleged in the charge. We hope the new form will expedite
processing of charges.
here for a downloadable and printable IAFF document
and Demonstration of Interest"
for those individuals wishing to learn
and affiliate with the International Association of Fire Fighters...
Kindly fill out the form and then mail it to the
State Association Office