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Why Are Your Pension Plans Being Attacked?

What do you think is behind the recent public pension backlash? What can be done to make sure employers will live up to their end of the bargain? Are current portrayals of the union correct? Are fire fighters and other union workers being unfairly portrayed as greedy in the press because of their pensions in this bad economy?

Many of you think you are getting a bum rap as the issue gets more politicized with the mid-term elections around the corner. And the issue has you fed up and taking a stand in your communities.

In cities like St. Louis, the Retirement System is suing the city over benefits. Union workers took to the streets in New Haven to express their displeasure with City Hall over proposed cutbacks to health and pension benefits in labor contracts. Fire fighters in Phoenix are applying for a federal grant to help offset a three-year hiring freeze that’s causing anxiety in residents over response times.

As the economy continues to limp towards recovery, more mainstream media outlets and politicians are targeting public pension plans as a means to ease financial pain.

But what’s exactly behind the attacks on public pension plans? The answer: confusion and misconceptions.

Last week, radio host Diane Rehm devoted one hour on her show discussing public pension plans with a diverse panel analyzing the issue on the state and federal level. Guests on Rehm’s show said too often people are confused about whether states are infusing employee pension plans with cash coming out of “in-state” coffers or from “pre-existing” trust funds.

With state revenue down, the temptation is great for governors to try to balance the budget from money set aside for pension programs guests said. Too often the media inflates the benefits of public pension plans, said Rehm’s guests. These are good plans, but they are certainly not the “Cadillac or gold- plated plans” that are often portrayed.

Other issues may include “pension envy.”  Labor unions are taking a public beating in trying to protect their membership.

At this year’s IAFF convention, delegates approved Resolution 24 to reallocate 12 cents from current funding and add eight cents in new funding to provide resources to help protect your pension.

What do you think is behind the public pension backlash? What can be done to make sure employers will live up to their end of the bargain? Are current portrayals of the union correct?

The IAFF wants to hear from you and your thoughts on how to move forward.


Comments (2) -

  • Brian Smith

    10/15/2010 10:49:18 PM |

    it is our understanding, in Pennsylvania, that the League of Cities and League of Mayors have hired public relations and lobbyists to help them attack the plans of our Brothers and to blame the cities downfalls on the firefighters through the pensions and other retirement benefits. Calling a decent wage and retirement benefits lucrative and gaining public support against the Brothers.

    I believe this plan was in the works for many years, possibly before the attacks, but the onslaught of public support for the fire service after the incident put the plans on hold.

    Why? because they can. How? were we asleep at the wheel or blindsided by the fact that we thought no one would dare question our worth after so many paid the ultimate sacrifice?

    let's not dwell on the why and how, let's get working on mounting a counter attack, quick!

  • Russell Salyers (Warren)

    10/25/2010 11:59:05 AM |

    In Michigan the labor movement is under attack from Republicans.  They have organized a petition and were successful in gaining a ballot proposal for a Constitutional Convention.  While this sounds innocuous, it is not.  If they are successful, Act 312 Binding Arbitration and Act 345 (police and fire pensions) can be altered and changed at the convention.  I urge a NO vote on the Con-con as they so affectionately call it.  

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