By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor
MAPO representatives recently participated in a meeting with the leadership of the West Michigan Policy Forum to discuss ways to tackle unfunded liabilities in communities without breaking the bank when it comes to the state’s budget. This meeting was connected with Gov. Rick Snyder’s Responsible Retirement Reform Task Force.
Attending on behalf of MAFF members was Rich Heins, Michigan Association of Police (MAP) President, to hear concerns of task force members which include state and local officials, private sector business leaders and employee representatives. Michigan Association of Police Organizations (MAPO) President Mike Sauger is a member of Governor Snyder’s task force. MAPO represents MAP and several other Michigan public safety unions.
“We’re going to have all the information first hand because he’s on that task force,” Heins said of Sauger.
The Feb. 15, 2017 meeting in Grand Rapids at Western Michigan University highlighted concerns leaders have with municipalities, such as Detroit and Flint, both previously placed under the leadership of state Emergency Managers to fix their budgets in an effort to avoid bankruptcy. Going forward Snyder and other leaders are trying to avoid situations like these where communities cannot afford to fully fund pension plans and retiree healthcare.
“Now the governor has taken this on as one of his causes,” Heins said. “He’s trying to figure out a way to fix it without it being entirely on the state.”
Union leaders want to ensure their members aren’t stuck paying the bill either now or in their retirement. “In the lame duck session this past year, there was an effort to pass legislation that would harm retirees and the prospect for retiree health care for active employees” Heins said.
Governor Rick Snyder has formed a task force to tackle local government retirement reforms; he expressed serious concerns about the proposed income tax rollback going before the House; with state revenues on the rise, he proposed a 2018 budget; and he appointed a Chief of Staff and Lottery Commissioner. These topics and more legislative issues are featured in the February 2017 Karoub Report.
By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor
Having a pension is an important part of a successful retirement savings plan, but something many employers are taking away from their workers and replacing with 401k plans. In the public safety realm, pensions are an even more crucial component of retirement since a majority of these employees are not eligible for Social Security benefits. MAFF works hard to maintain Defined Benefit (DB) plans, a type of pension plan, for its members.
When 401k plans were introduced to employees in the 1980s, it was never the intent of early backers that these would replace pensions. “401k’s were not designed to take the place of (pensions),” said MAFF Executive Director Fred Timpner. “If all people have is a 401k and Social Security, that will not be enough to maintain the lifestyle they’ve become accustomed to.”
In an effort to save money, employers are substituting these market-based plans for pensions. The problem is market volatility can negatively impact 401k savings compared to the steady growth of a DB plan.
“(Pensions are) the most important part because they’re not environmentally changed,” said Stuart Raider of Raider Dennis Agency. “The Defined Benefit is a payout based on a formula, like Social Security. Social Security is the cornerstone of most people’s retirement, although most police and fire aren’t eligible to receive this benefit.”
“One of the advantages is the Defined Benefit puts all of the responsibility of the risk on the employer,” Raider said.That makes DB’s even more important to public safety employees, assuring them a certain amount of money will be set aside for their retirement. The plan is ‘defined’ because the formula for calculating the employer’s contribution is known ahead of time. However, DB’s are different from other pensions, where the amount of payout depends on the return of the funds invested. If there is a shortfall from investments set aside to fund the employee’s retirement, employers must make up the difference.
But that doesn’t mean DB plans will become a hardship for the employer, Timpner said. “If a DB plan is properly funded by the parties, then there could be minimal or no cost at all to the employer,” Timpner said. “For example, the City of Sterling Heights went years without putting one cent into the pension fund. There were no employer contributions due to the fact that the pension fund was overfunded.”
Some employers are opting instead for Defined Contribution (DC) plans, which are 401k plans. DC plans allow employers the option of making contributions at their discretion and they don’t assume any of the market risks of losses - the employee assumes all the risks. Another drawback of DC plans for employees is that they are accessible to workers before they retire, unlike DB plans.
House Republicans are proposing a roll back of the state’s 4.25 percent state income tax to 3.9 percent in 2018 and eventually eliminating the income tax completely; the Michigan Supreme Court unanimously elected Justice Stephen Markman as its new chief justice; and Gov. Rick Snyder has now appointed three of the four-members of the Michigan Civil Service Commission (MCSC) - including former House Speaker Jase Bolger, the leading legislator behind the enactment of Right to Work in 2012. Click on the January 2017 Karoub Report for more information on these and other legislative topics.
MAFF union members and their families are invited to apply for The Carl Parsell Scholarship Fund. Applicants must submit their fully completed, signed application by March 1, 2017.
To qualify, candidates must be permanent residents of the State of Michigan and be a member of MAFF or immediate relation to a member of MAFF. Candidates must have completed a high school education or its equivalent, on or prior to June 30, 2017.
The mission of The Carl Parsell Scholarship Fund is to assist members and their families who are motivated to improve society by enhancing their future careers through a college education. Carl Parsell Scholarships are awarded to deserving college bound students who desire assistance with their college tuition.
Carl Parsell Scholarships may be used to cover a portion of educational expenses, including tuition, living expenses, and other required fees during the 2017-2018 school year. Scholars may use the award to attend any United States accredited university, college, community college, junior college, two or four year accredited degree-granting institution, or vocational training institution that grants a certification or license. Funds derived from The Carl Parsell Memorial Scholarship Golf Outing determine the number of scholarships to be awarded annually. The maximum award available per student is $2,500.
Public safety employees stop bill that would've ended future retiree health benefits
House Bill 6074, which drew protest from public employees in Michigan and a barrage of calls to State Legislators will not be moved out of the House as part of a package of bills.
Early this morning, the House Local Government Committee reported that the only bill in this package that will be moved is House Bill 6075, which creates reporting requirements between public employers and Michigan Department of Treasury. This bill has no effect on retiree health care.
MAFF Executive Director Fred Timpner wanted to thank MAFF members for their support! MAFF members participated in the MAPO effort, contacting State Legislators to make this victory possible.
However, Timpner also wanted to alert members that is this a temporary win and MAFF members may be called on again soon. Republicans are expected to introduce bills as early as January 2017, after new legislators have been sworn into office, that would negatively impact public employee healthcare and pensions.
In the meantime, Legislators were clearly swayed by the overwhelming involvement of MAPO members.
With the impending transition to newly elected leaders, state legislators are addressing a number of topics in the lame duck session; leadership appointments are being made; and topics such as energy reform, clean water in Flint and a plan to tackle lead exposure are all discussed in the Nov. 21, 2016 Karoub Report.
If you, a family member or friend is struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, addiction or a physical disability, Hough Counseling and Assessments can help. And there are no out-of-pocket costs for people with medical insurance through C.O.P.S. Health Trust as Hough will waive all co-pays, co-insurance or deductibles in 2017. Hough is owned and operated by Tami Hough, the wife of retired Detroit Police Officer Tom Schneider, who helped develop and run C.O.P.S. Health Trust. Our licensed counselors are familiar with the traumatic events fire fighters must endure on the job. We provide a full range of behavioral health services to clients of all ages and offer educational, psychological and vocational assessments. Our Certified Rehabilitation Counselors specialize in working with persons with disabilities. The office is located in Troy, in the same building as MAFF corporate offices.
Republicans kept control of the Michigan House and Supreme Court and have a majority in the U.S. House to go along with newly-elected Republican President Donald Trump. Karoub Associates details elections results in the Nov. 9, 2016 Karoub Report.
Fire Science.org has put together a comprehensive guidebook for women in public service careers. In this guide, readers can access in-depth insights and research about careers in homeland security, forestry, public administration, cyber security, emergency management, criminal justice and paramedics.
This guide highlights careers for women in public service, throughout history and today.
A 2011 report by the Department of Labor found that women are 50 percent more likely than men to work in public sector jobs, with 18.2 percent of all female Americans serving in this arena. Click here to learn more about public service jobs for women and information about potential salaries and education requirements for specific positions.
FireScience.org began in 2012 to provide quality data and information for students pursuing a career in fire science. The website provide tools and resources to help students and professionals make well-informed decisions about their education and career training.
The Firefighter Injury Research & Safety Trends program (FIRST), led by Drexel University Associate Professor Dr. Jennifer Taylor of Dornsife School of Public Health, is working to share fire fighter safety research findings with fire fighters nationwide.
FIRST is a research enterprise based at the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, organized to support the United States fire and rescue service through objective data collection and analysis.Their goal is to make their research findings publicly known and free to access. An article on a recently published manuscript in the American Journal of Health Behavior can be found here.
Through a newly awarded Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) funded grant supporting FIRST's partnership with the Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA), research on U.S. Fire Service safety culture will continue. More information on this research can be found here.
To learn more about the FIRST program, click here.
By Jennifer Gomori, MAFF Editor
Jerald James has always enjoyed coming to the aid of others, so helping his fellow Detroit EMS co-workers resolve employment concerns was a natural transition for him. Now that he’s recently retired, James is taking his next step helping others as the newest MAFF Labor Relations Specialist.
“The one thing that attracted me to the union when I started (Detroit EMS) in 1997 was witnessing employees rights not being honored or respected and watching co-workers or peers really struggle with their rights and their benefits and wages,” James said.
James represented EMS workers for nearly two decades through his various positions at Detroit EMS, including EMS Superintendent and his most recent position as EMS Captain. He begins his new career with MAFF in September.
“Once I crossed into the union world, it became very rewarding to me to win a grievance or have a phone call and get some stuff straightened out,” he said. “It made the job dually rewarding - I was delivering babies and ... getting peoples’ jobs back when they were wrongly discharged. For a lot of people you end up saving their life or their careers when no one else would or could.”
James was a MAFF Union Steward since 2014, when EMS Supervisors joined MAFF. Now MAFF representatives are hoping EMTs and Paramedics will join the union as well.
“I was actually the union president for the group when we affiliated with MAFF,” James said. “To me, it was a natural transition. I really liked what I’m doing - I wouldn’t change it. I think this is a nice group of guys I’m dealing with too,” he said of Labor Relations staff.