Wednesday, July 20, 2011

FL Teamsters fight to preserve retirement

Teamster members in Florida joined a lawsuit today against the state over changes to the Florida Retirement System (FRS). Florida state and public employees are required as of July 1 to contribute 3 percent of their salaries into the state pension fund.

The Teamster members filed a motion to intervene, becoming parties to a lawsuit filed by the Florida Education Association and a coalition of public sector unions.

The lawsuit contends that the contribution requirement for state and local government employees is a breach of contract with existing employees and impacts their right to collectively bargain.

Steve Helmer and Michael Agostinis, members of Teamsters Local 385 in Orlando, signed on to the lawsuit.

Sgt. Steve Helmer, who has worked for the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office for 23 years, joined the legal action because:
My retirement was fully funded. Now the state is taking money from my salary to fund its obligations under the plan. I’m at the end of my career, but I’m joining this lawsuit for the younger guys. This is not what we were promised.
In May, Skelator Gov. Rick Scott signed the pension reform law, which required the 3 percent contribution and eliminated cost-of-living increases on benefits earned after July 1. This was among 27 bills that cut unemployment benefits to pay for a corporate tax cut and privatized prisons.

Included in the bills Scott vetoed were programs for homeless veterans, meals for poor seniors, cancer research and a children’s hospital. No wonder Scott has a 27 percent approval rating, the lowest of any governor in the nation. He’s even less popular than Koch whore Gov. Scott Walker, and that guy can't leave his house without facing protestors.

Michael Agostinis, a deputy sheriff with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, is concerned about the impact of this change to the retirement system during hard economic times.
When I was hired I understood that I would not make a lot of money, but would get a pension that would compensate in return for the low pay. I was entering into a career in public service and enforcing the law when broken. Well, a law has been broken and our constitutional rights have been violated to make up for the state budget woes that we did not cause. It is absurd that they are attacking public employees.
Absurd, indeed.