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What to Expect in Statehouses This Season

As state legislators reconvene for the year, fire fighters can expect more anti-union legislation.

Our political opponents are determined to enact policies that curb the power of labor unions. 

In at least nine states, Right to Work bills are expected to be introduced in Wisconsin, New Mexico, Ohio, Colorado, Kentucky, Montana, Pennsylvania and Missouri.

Twenty-four states have passed Right to Work laws and it has been proven that legislation leads to decrease wages and safety standards in the workplace. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Heritage Foundation and Protect My Check have concocted a strategy to bring Right to Work legislation in municipalities and cities under the guise of economic development. The IAFF has encouraged members to be hyper vigilante of what’s happening in their cities to fight against harmful legislation.

As some states try to balance their budgets, they’ll continue to eye fire fighter pensions. Groups like ALEC and the Pew Foundation are on a misguided mission to move public pensions from a defined benefit system to a defined contribution system.

Potential presidential candidates like New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie continues to rob their state’s pension system blind. Christie is not fulfilling a commitment to make full contributions, meaning fire fighters and other public workers are left to pay 6.93 percent of their pay. The figure is on the rise. New Jersey ranks in the top 20 of most underfunded states for pensions and retirees do not receive yearly cost of living adjustments to offset inflation. On top of all this, Christie refuses to answer questions about his involvement in a pay to play pension scheme involving a firm where Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker once served as partner.

States like Illinois will continue to face pension challenges as its new governor enforced a spending freeze to address its budget issues. Illinois ranks first in the nation as the most underfunded state for pensions.

And on the federal level, Congress included in its spending bill cuts for retirees in multiemployer pension plans. This could open the floodgates to more states and local governments trying to renege on future benefit increases and bigger contributions and work requirements for employees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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