Association of Fire Fighters State Association
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What's New at the PFANJ:
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.
Petition to Stop the Closure of the Lebanon Worker's Compensation Court There is a attempt by the NJ State Treasurer's Office to close one of New Jersey's Workers' Compensation Courts. Please click onto the link to read why this will be detrimental to injured workers in New Jersey. The organization opposing the closure is the New Jersey Advisory Council on Safety and Health (COSH). COSH is a non-profit organization of Petitioners' Attorneys, Doctors and Unions working together to protect the rights of injured workers in Workers' Compensation Courts throughout New Jersey.
The 2015 Conference will include one of the nation’s first Presidential Forums featuring prospective 2016 presidential candidates from both political parties. Members will hear directly from candidates for the nation’s highest office – without the spin and without the filter.
In addition to this exciting political event, members will learn more about IAFF priority legislation and have the opportunity to advocate directly with legislators.
Pensions Haunt Christie 4 Years After Being ‘Fixed’
Four years ago, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey signed bipartisan legislation to overhaul public employee pensions and declared he had “fixed” the problem that was crushing state and local governments across the country with enormous debts. He held up New Jersey as a model.
On February 24, 2015, he was back at the State House in Trenton talking about public employee pensions, pushing again “a bipartisan solution” that he vowed would be a “national model” to “once and for all fix this problem.”
The broad outlines of his plan, like his language, were much the same as what he signed in 2011 — public employees will give up benefits, the state will promise to make full payments into the pension system.
“We will not push this off,” he declared. “We will not leave it for another day, for another year, for another generation.”
The fact that he was making essentially the same case about public pensions that he had four years ago demonstrated just how this topic, once something Mr. Christie trumpeted as a great success, has become more of an albatross — and one that will not go away. And it was only made worse by a ruling the night before by a judge who said the governor had indeed pushed off the problem and had violated the law by failing to make the payments he had promised in 2011.
The judge ruled that public employee unions had a constitutionally protected contractual right to those payments. That ruling on Monday, February 23rd led to a chaotic day on Tuesday, as Mr. Christie gave his annual budget address. Contradictions abounded
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.
NJ AFL-CIO Supports Concept of
Patient-Centered Health Care
After briefing the New Jersey State AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions on Thursday, February 12, 2015, Senate President Stephen Sweeney unveiled plans to pilot a new, patient-centered health care delivery system in select regions of the state.
The new model, endorsed by International labor unions and doctors alike, has been implemented for public-sector workers throughout the country, where it has been shown to trim health care costs while improving patients’ experiences with their doctors. Private companies such as IBM, Johnson & Johnson and Kaiser Permanente have also adopted the model.
Senate President Sweeney’s plan is still in the conceptual stage, but it compliments organized labor’s ongoing efforts to explore options for lowering health care costs without sacrificing patient care for our members. Two public employee design committees will be tasked with crafting the plan. The pilot program will enroll a maximum of 60,000 volunteer employees in northern, central and southern New Jersey. The results will be assessed after three years.
Like the Senate president, we recognize that runaway health care costs must be tamed. We also know there are proven ways to save the taxpayers on health care without reducing patient services or limiting care delivery. We agree with Senate President Sweeney on the concept of establishing a voluntary, patient-centered pilot program, and look forward to working with the health care design committees in crafting the details of this new program.
The following labor leaders attended the press conference: Donna Chiera, AFT; Sherryl Gordon, AFSCME; Dominick Marino, IAFF; Patrick Nolan, AAUP-AFT; Jean Pierce, HPAE; Hetty Rosenstein, CWA; Charles Wowkanech, NJ State AFL-CIO; Patrick Colligan, PBA; Davy Jones, STFA; Sean Spiller, NJEA; and Abdur Yasin, FMBA.
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.
All PFANJ Members:
One of our own needs our help.
IAFF Local 290 Woodbridge Firefighters suffered a family loss this past December 27th.
Firefighter Michael Mastanduno's wife Jung was home with him and their 2 kids when he found her unresponsive, she was just 38 years old.
He as well as other members of the local attempted to revive her and she was transported to the hospital. She was revived numerous times but sadly could not be saved. She succumbed to a brain aneurysm.
Brother Mastanduno is now raising their children; Brianna 7 and Brenivan 5, by himself.
Local 290 member Ryan Horvath has started a "Go Fund Me" page for a college fund for the kids. One of Jung's biggest priorities was to make sure her children received the best education they could. The link is http://www.gofundme.com/kkn39o .
Please share the story and the link to gain as much support as possible for our IAFF Local 290 brother and his family.
The application period for Fiscal Year 2014 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants opens February 9, 2015, and closes March 6, 2015, at 5:00 p.m. (EDT).
The IAFF produced this video to assist departments with the application process.
The IAFF urges affiliates to work with their fire chiefs and local lawmakers to file for the grants. City management must submit the application, but the IAFF is available to assist fire department in applying for the grants. Municipalities with fire departments facing reduced emergency response capabilities can apply for SAFER funding, as well as departments that need to hire additional personnel to meet national standards for safe staffing.
Administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), SAFER has put thousands of fire fighters back to work, giving a much-needed boost to public safety in countless struggling communities. More than $340 million is available for FY 2014 grants.
The FY 2014 SAFER grant Guidance and Application Kit is posted on the Assistance to Firefighters web site. FEMA will also be posting a Get Ready Guide to help with the application process. All SAFER applicants should read the Guidance to fully understand the FY 2014 award criteria, funding priorities and important special application instructions for completing the application.
The IAFF Grants Administration Department is available to assist IAFF affiliates and their fire departments through the application process. To request a review of an application for feedback and comments prior to submission, affiliates can send their completed application, including both the data entry and narrative portions, to the IAFF Grants Administration Department.
For more information, contact the IAFF Grants Administration Department at (202) 824-1575 or email email@example.com.
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.
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 Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey has Teamed up with Operation Warm!
Through this invaluable partnership, Professional Firefighters across the state of New Jersey are expanding Operation Warm’s mission.
Your contribution will help them provide the gift of warmth to
less-fortunate children in the communities they protect.
Help us provide new winter coats to New Jersey children in need.
There are a number of PFANJ locals from all across the state are participating in Operation Warm. You may donate to their page or to the PFANJ page. All money collected from the PFANJ page gets divided amongst the PFANJ locals participating.
Support jobs in the USA.
Help the PFANJ and its locals provide new winter coats to those children in need.
Please Click on the Link below to donate www.operationwarm.org/pfanj
Interested locals can contact our New Jersey rep, Laura Wisneski at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610.388.2500 x117.
F.I.E.R.O. PPE Symposium
March 16-18, 2015
Raleigh, North Carolina
Want to learn more about the PPE you wear, maintain and manage?
The Fire Industry Equipment Research Organization (F.I.E.R.O.) Fire PPE Symposium, scheduled for March 16-18, 2015, in Raleigh, North Carolina, is the premier educational event on PPE.
The three-day conference includes education sessions, networking and exhibits. In addition, the F.I.E.R.O. Symposium will feature a tour of Textile Protection and Comfort Center (a.k.a. T-PACC) at North Carolina State University's College of Textiles. T-PACC is one of the world's premier research and testing facilities for fire fighter PPE. Attendees will see the testing equipment used to determine NFPA compliance, as well as other equipment used in PPE product development.
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