As you know, since last November when the legislature tried to jam pension and retiree health care reform down our throats, we have been working very hard to try and limit them to reasonable changes.
Since February, we have been a part of the Governor’s Responsible Retirement Reform For Local Government task force. This task force was created to determine what pension and retiree health care reforms are truly needed, taking into consideration input from all stakeholders. The group was made up of Labor unions, financial experts, actuaries and municipal leaders. After months of exhaustive work, a plan was created. The final product was a compromise in which not everyone was happy with everything in it however, the majority of the task force members believed it will work and so do we.
Now that the task force plan is public, the legislature has been attempting to introduce pension and retiree health care bills. The problem is that the draft bills we have seen, far exceed what the task force plan called for, essentially taking the minority view and moving that forward. Most of the areas in which the draft exceeds the plan involve the elimination our collective bargaining rights, something we won’t stand for.
To date, NO bills have been introduced, but we anticipate there will be as soon as the legislature returns from their Thanksgiving break. We have only seen drafts, which are all bad. We have tried to work with the legislators to bring it back in line with the task force report but to date, have not had any success. I normally don’t like to lobby an issue without bills to reference, but in this case waiting is too risky.
We are hearing rumors that have been substantiated and are very concerning. Currently, we have heard that the House, Senate and the Governor have cut a deal to move a pension and retiree health care bill. We have not been given the "agreed upon" draft but we understand it goes well beyond the task force plan. I believe it will be almost identical to the drafts we have seen over the last couple weeks. Those drafts all gave the state of Michigan the ability to come in and impose benefit cuts to new hires, active employees and even current retirees!!
We are facing the 2017 fight all over again. We believe they will be introducing the bills on November 28thas soon as they come back from break and will attempt to jam this through as fast as possible with little public input.
1. Tell them how important your pension and retiree health care is to you and your family.
a. How it protects you and your family if you get hurt or killed in the line of duty.
b. How most firefighters do not get social security.
c. Average retirement age of a firefighter is early 50’s which leaves a 10-15 year gap before we can go on Medicare.
2. Tell them what changes you have made with your city or township to help them with the costs. For example, 2 tier pension system, elimination of defined benefit retiree health care, DC retirement plans, wage cuts, etc. Show them that your community IS doing what it needs to do and the state does not need to help. A “one size fits all“ law will only hurt your communities.
3. Tell them to stick to the task force plan and give it a chance to work. This was a long, well thought through process, by experts and stakeholders and should be given a chance to work. Tell them that you do NOT support ANYTHING beyond the task force plan.
4. Lastly talk about all of the problems we are having with recruitment and retention of firefighters currently. These changes will only make it worse.
Please forward this information to every public worker you know, particularly any current retirees that may not be on email lists. This has the potential to affect every public worker or retiree in Michigan.
Also just like last year, we are in the planning stages for another Fire and Police rally at the capitol. We don’t know the day yet, but it will either be the last week in November or first week in December. Last year we had a very successful rally and we may need to do that again. If we need the rally, please make every effort to come. Our strength is in or numbers.
Thank you for all you do to support your brothers and sister firefighters and our families.
We are asking for your help in notifying retired members of your local about this issue. This legislation has the potential for permitting public employers to reduce, eliminate, increase premiums, or impose other modifications of the insurance and pensions benefits of existing retired members.
It is extremely important that our retirees become actively engaged in our campaign to stop this legislation. We need them to contact their legislator and the Governor's office.
Please pass on every email that we send out to any retirees or retiree groups that you have access to. It is better for them to get multiple contacts, than none at all.
Also, let the retirees know that they can sign up for our MPFFU members only Facebook page so they can have direct access to the most current information that we have on this issue.
Contact Information for Local Union Executive Board Members
You can access the most accurate information from the IAFF website by clicking on this link. You may have to log in. You can search by local name, local number, by state, or by the officers name if you know it. This data is updated daily.