Breaking News
Off-Duty Jobs Scam Uncovered         Deputies Demand $500,000 In Back Pay         Stressed Out Officers, Gone After 8 Years         City Scrambles to Save Pensions         Police Boss Gets Jail Time, Rank and File Up In Arms         CONTRACT REJECTED! Younger Officers Upset With High Healthcare Costs         Police Pensions Protected (For Now)         Let’s Support Firefighters; Cops Will Be Next         Man With a Plan         FBI Will Not Investigate Detective’s Homicide         What About “Warning Shots?” The Debate Continues         Dallas 9-1-1 Back On Track         Hope for Pay Raises in St. Louis         VIDEO: NYC Hero Cop Speaks         New Policies on Deadly Force         ALADS Continues Legal Fight Over “Brady” List         Cops Forgo Raise to Keep 4-3 Schedule         One Cop’s Take On Colin Kaepernick         VIDEO: “We Brought Our Brother Home”         LISTEN: No Sleep? You’d Better Fix That!         VIDEO: What Really Happened         ACLU: Detective’s Right to Free Speech Was Violated         Time To Stop the Finger Pointing         If Things Go Bad, You Need a Plan         Dear Anthem Protesters: Police are Not the Enemy         Real Police Facing Private Takeover         Hard Work, Heartache, and a Lot of Love         VIDEO: Harvey’s Horrific Aftermath         VIDEO: Keeping World Leaders Safe         Bill Bratton On the Future of American Policing         Who Will Pay for New Contract?         VIDEO: Detectives Fight Plan to Cut Pensions         Taking Care of Others, Then Our Own         Public Support For Unions is Growing         Minneapolis Considering Residency Incentives         VIDEO: Cop Battling Cancer is Harvey Hero         VIDEO: Dancing With the Cops?         Cops Speak Out Against Use of “Thin Blue Line” by Hate Groups         What Is the Arnold Foundation Hiding?         Decision May Violate Officers’ Rights         Court Deems Evergreen Clause Constitutional         No Raises for Cops; $140M for Stadium         Philly Cops Win $8M O.T. Settlement         We Condemn Nazis and White Supremacists         Mounties Face Crisis, No Solution in Sight         Push to Oust Louisville PD Chief Intensifying         CSLEA is Newest Member of PubSecAlliance         Ford is Fixing the Problem         “It’s Been An Honor to Work With Chief Marshman”         Automatic Dues Collection Under Attack         Cops Use Video to Go for Pay Raise         Understaffed Leads to Rise In Crime         R.I.P. Deputy Haak         Ruling On Body Cams: Use Must Be Negotiated         Rochester Police Locust Club (NY) Joins PubSecAlliance         Officer Acquitted Of Negligent Homicide         Texas Cops Oppose Anti-Union Bill         Insults Divide, Decency Unites         FOP Prez Threatened, Police Investigate         VIDEO: Sergeant’s Indictment Prompts Outpouring of Support         VIDEO: Sounding the Alarm On a Manpower Crisis         VIDEO: Dramatic Body Cam Footage!         VIDEO: Police Union Advises Action Amid “Breaking Point”         VT First State to OK Compensation for PTSD         Officer Suicides: Agencies Must Do More         Outsiders Clamor for Police Contract Changes         Governor Furloughs Workers, Hits the Beach         Recruit the Best at U.S. Army Reserves         VIDEO: Sergeant Charged With Murder 2         R.I.P. Officer Korchak         More Officers Taking Own Lives         Pride in Honoring Our Own         A Tale of Two Chiefs         New Accountability System Gives Civilians More Power         Police Unions Call for “Rational Voice”         Texas Moves to Save Pensions         City Refuses to Pay Officer’s Legal Bills         Rank and File Question Dubious Hiring         The Mounties Have Never Had to Contend With a Union         Police Week: Anguish, Anger, Empathy         Rookies Sue for OT Pay During Academy Training         FLSA Pay Ruling: Use Cash, Not Benefits         Record Crowd Attends Annual Candlelight Vigil         Everyone Needs Sleep, Especially Cops         Questions Raised About New John Jay President         Hennepin County Sheriff Joins NYPD Shield Program         Big Surprise: Paper Misrepresents Contract Talks         County Budget Leaves Us Underfunded         VIDEO: Omaha Unions Say No to Gov         City Says “No Police Floats” In Parade         One-Minute Man         Is This the Solution to Cop Shootings?         Ingredients for Better LE Outcomes         Why the Police Need Unions         Mounties Demand a Union & Contract         Indebted to Some Very Brave People         We’ve Been Abandoned by Politicos, Command Staff         VIDEO: The Most Hated Man In Pensionland         Underfunded Pensions: a Disaster Waiting to Happen         Another Ambush Attack!         Today, It’s You; Tomorrow, It’s a Security Guard         VIDEO: NJ Police May Get Control of Unfunded Pensions         Thousands of Officers to Get BIG Bonuses         Improving Economy Hurts LE Recruitment         Another Fundraising Scam         Threats to Police Retirement Programs Escalate         Conflict Rises, Billboards Go Up         NJ Unilaterally Changing Police Contract         Pensions Slowly Being Reduced and Replaced         Baltimore Chief: “No More Plainclothes”         When Will All This Stop?         Top Police Union Leader Joins Protest         VIDEO: “Line of Duty” is HERE!         Chicago Cops Get Thanks They Deserve         Mayors Missing as Pension Fund Goes Down         Pension Bill Draws Protest         Deputies Association Hires High-Powered PR Exec         Finally, a Contract for NYPD Officers         Nebraska Corrections Officers Seek Out F.O.P.         Outrage Grows Over Pension Plans in Peril         Sanctuary Cities: Police vs. Mayor         Police Unions Seek to Overhaul Obama’s Reforms         Super Bowl Security         Look Hard at Your Pension Fund         Pension Mediation Talks Cease; Lawsuit Looms         How Much Would You Pay for Policing?         Hazardous Workplace         Officers Leaving in Droves         Technology, Police, and Privacy         Fake Guns Destroy Lives         War Against Unions Gaining Ground         Washington D.C. Police Union in Turmoil         Teamsters Face 20% Cut in Pension Benefits         Body Cam Screw-ups Lead to Mistrial         VIDEO: Body Cam Catches Shootout         Restraining Order for Black Lives Matter Leader         New Chief Has Fight On His Hands         Pension Panic Spreads         Carrots and Sticks         Another Agency May Fold         Community and Police Join in Prayer         VIDEO: We Are There For You!         Feds Seek Repeat of Disastrous Police Hiring Practices         VIDEO: Officer’s Gift of Kindness Keeps on Giving         Is Trump Going After Collective Bargaining Rights?         Police Union Not “App”y         Police Union Fights Back Against Budget Cuts         Police Union Reinstates Body Cam Program         Citizen Wants Officer Fired for FB Post         VIDEO: Use of Force Policy Fiasco         Attacks on Law Enforcement         VIDEO: Where Is the Outrage?         Millions May Lose Overtime Pay         Mayor Violates Officer’s Right to Due Process         VIDEO: Police Union Heals With Song         State Moves to Nix Benefits From Collective Bargaining         City, Officer Cleared in Wrongful Death Case         Trump Puts OT, Benefits On Chopping Block         VIDEO: A World Without Law Enforcement         VIDEO: Shake It Off         HUGE Refund for AZ Public-Safety Pensioners         Eloquent Goodbye         Cheerleader In Chief         The Trouble With Trauma         Shocking News About Local Gov Pension Funds         See You In Court!         One of the Good Guys         Chief Resigns After No-Confidence Vote         Zika Virus Hits Cops         Iowa Officers Ambushed         Policing the Police         For Real Community Policing, Let Officers Do Their Jobs         VIDEO: Who Needs Cops?         VIDEO: Officer Breathes Life into Toddler         Civil Rights Lawyer: “Mayor Publicly Hanged Sergeant”         These Pensions Could Be in Trouble         Arlington PU Files Suit         Returning the Money         Better Pay Sought         Cam Policies Finalized         VIDEO: Officers Shot!         Officers Need to Review Body Cam Footage         Baltimore Cops’ DIY “Reforms”         It’s Time for Our Input on Use-of-Force Policies         VIDEO: Facebook Threat         Fort Worth POA Fed Up         Mayor Threatened Seattle Police Union         The Unthinkable May Come to Pass         PBA Needs Your Help for a Music Video         Police Union Objects to Defense Attorney’s Pin         Prop 57: Criminal’s Bill of Rights         Pension Panic in Dallas         True Reform Can Only Come From Within         A Harsh Look at Police Union Contracts         Private Pensions in Chile = Total Disaster         Judge Won’t Halt Body Cam Program         9/11: A Look Back         “We Searched Everywhere. We Never Found Anyone.”         “It Was Like Looking Into Hell”         Hellbent on Killing Unions        

Let’s Support Firefighters; Cops Will Be Next

Eric Siddall is vice president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.

by Eric Siddall

As California firefighters battle the Santa Barbara blaze, their pension rights are under fire in the courtroom. Opponents of organized labor hope to score a major victory against firefighters in Cal Fire Local 2881 v. California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS).

In Cal Fire, firefighters challenged a provision of the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013, known as “Airtime.” Airtime, established by the federal tax code in 1997 and enacted into law by the state in 2003, allowed state employees to purchase years of service that counted towards their pension. Its creators intended it to be a cost-neutral program: The purchasing employee was to pay both the employee and employer pension contributions along with interest for the years of service purchased. However, the reality was early retirement and actuarial assumptions that increased the government’s net-contributions. These unintended consequences compelled Gov. Jerry Brown to eliminate the benefit in 2013 in order to shore-up state pensions’ long-term health.

However, much more is at stake in this case than Airtime. Opponents of labor hope to terminate a legal doctrine known as the California Rule, and they see Cal Fire as their opportunity. For almost seven decades, the California Rule held that a vested pension right cannot be modified unless the change was reasonable, material to the successful operation of the pension system, and, most importantly, comparably advantageous to the employee. The bottom line: You cannot eliminate a bargained benefit without giving something of equal or greater weight. This is basic contract law.

Those against organized labor—who hypocritically will defend contract law to the hilt so long as it does not involve workers’ rights—want this principle overturned. They believe the Cal Fire case may be labor’s Waterloo.

They may be right. The public today has developed a dim view of pensions thanks in part to the anti-labor movement. Prior to the 2008 financial crisis, this view held limited sway because CalPERS and other state pension funds were on sound financial footing. Unlike Social Security, state pension funds were permitted to invest heavily in the financial markets. Their returns were impressive and paid for most of the cost of pensions. In 2007, for example, CalPERS earned a rate of return of 19.1 percent.

After the 2008 financial collapse, CalPERS endured long-term financial insolvency. In 2008 and 2009, CalPERS went from earning double-digit rates of returns to losing 5.1 percent and 24 percent of its total value in each respective year. This financial downturn exposed government pensions to renewed attack.

Anti-union constituencies have successfully painted public employee’s pensions as a drain on government finances. They tend to forget that these are the very people who educate our children and safeguard our communities. They have created an image of pensioners living high on the hog despite the fact that teachers on average receive about $3,300 per month after 27 years of service, and public employees contribute between 8 to 12 percent of their paychecks to their own pensions. Many taxpayers believe that pensions will continue to cannibalize the state government’s budget. Yet projections show that the percentage of California’s state budget devoted to pensions will decrease from 8.2 percent in 2013—an artificially high figure due to the budget crisis and to the downturn in financial markets—to 5.7 percent in 2046.

If the anti-labor side wins in Cal Fire, it could mean the end of government pensions. The irony is that it was labor that created this scenario by fighting back on sensible pension reform, specifically by challenging the government’s ability to eliminate Airtime. Greed on both sides has presented obstacle after obstacle for ensuring the long-term health of our pension system.

But we should not forget that the primary goal of pensions is to induce smart and capable people to become public servants and reduce attrition. Without pensions, instead of draining the swamp, we will drain talent out of our public sector.

Eric Siddall is vice president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.

Posted in: Reaching Out

Post a Comment

%d bloggers like this: