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New Pension Bill: An Extra $9M

by Melissa Bailey | Feb 1, 2011 7:52 am

(23) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: City Hall, City Budget

Melissa Bailey Photo City workers may have to give up cost-of-living increases when they retire in order to avoid “bankrupting” the city with rising pension costs, Mayor John DeStefano declared.

DeStefano made that declaration in a press conference Monday afternoon at City Hall. He presented the results of a recent valuation that shows the city needs to pay another $9 million into its two pension funds next year on top of the $30 million it already pays. The increase in city contribution comes after the value of the city’s two pension funds plummeted in the recession.

That $9 million represents a 2 percent increase to the city’s current $472 million budget. To pay for it, the city would need to raise taxes by 1.84 mills, which would mean a “$235 tax increase on every house in New Haven,” DeStefano said.

Police union brass Monday listened to DeStefano (pictured)—then questioned his public approach to resolving labor negotiations—as he laid out the city’s financial position. The mayor recommended nine ways that workers should cut retirement benefits to balance out the increased costs. All the mayor’s suggested changes need to be decided through labor talks or arbitration.

The call comes as New Haven is negotiating with 13 unions whose contracts have expired and two more (police and fire) that expire on June 30. With the city facing yawning budget gaps in coming years, and therefore seeking dramatic pension and health insurance givebacks, the atmosphere has turned contentious.

Rising pension costs are the single biggest item contributing to the city’s budget gap, which is projected at $57 million next fiscal year, then $68 million, $85 million and $99 million in subsequent years, according to the mayor.

The city has two pension plans: The City Employee Retirement Fund (CERF) and the Police and Fire Retirement Fund (P&F). Together, the plans cover 2,000 active employees and 2,200 retirees. Teachers and school administrators are covered by state-run pension plans to which the city does not contribute.

Both funds took a nosedive in the economic downturn: CERF lost $49 million in the two years since June 30, 2008; P&F lost $36 million. As of June 30, there was $243 million in CERF and $148 million in P&F.

The drop in value leaves both plans drastically underfunded: CERF is 47 percent funded, and P&F is 52 percent funded. Those numbers were reached through a recent valuation, using an actuarial estimate, which takes into account the ebbs and flows of the funds over the past five years. The valuation was done by the city’s longtime actuary, Hooker and Holcombe, Inc.

Hooker and Holcombe concluded the city has a $463 million unfunded liability; that means if all eligible workers were to retire at once, it would have only about half the money it needed to pay them.

At current funding levels, CERF and P&F are due to run out of money in 15 and 19 years respectively, the mayor said. The actuary recommended increasing the city’s contribution to the pension funds by $9 million next year, bringing the total to $39 million. That contribution is only shooting up: following year, the actuary recommends the city pay $53 million to its two funds.

DeStefano said while other cities have declined to pay the actuarial required contribution (ARC), New Haven will heed the actuary’s guidance and pay the full $39 million next year.

“We will make the required contribution,” DeStefano pledged.

DeStefano said those who receive the benefits are not to blame, but the city cannot afford to continue paying for the plans as they are currently designed.

The mayor said he won’t eliminate the pension funds. And he won’t ask workers to switch to a defined-contribution from a defined-benefit fund. He did lay out a list of suggested givebacks in benefits that he said would help close the budget gap—and avoid “bankrupting” the city.

Cost Of Living, Overtime Pay

For example: Retired firefighters, cops and city workers all get a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) that increases their pension payments post-retirement. The adjustments go up or down (usually up, except for last year) according to the Consumer Price Index. The percent change is capped at 4 percent for cops and firefighters and 3 percent for other city workers.

City Hall proposes lowering the cap on those cost-of-living adjustments—or possibly eliminating them, according to Mark Pietrosimone, the city controller.

That’s one of nine recommendations the mayor laid out on a large poster board at the press conference.

Another concerns whether the thousands of dollars cops and firefighters make in overtime pay get included in calculations for pension payments. Right now, cops hired before Oct. 1, 2009 get paid up to 70 percent of the average highest four years of total earnings, including overtime pay—which means some of them make even more than the chief after retirement.

For example, the current plan allowed former Assistant Chief Ariel Melendez to retire with a $124,500 annual pension, when his salary was $105,000. The mayor has refused to fill that post until he succeeds in pursuing changes to the pension rules.

The union has already made concessions for newer cops. Cops hired after Oct. 1, 2009 must join a hybrid pension plan. They don’t get to count their overtime or extra-duty pay in their defined-benefit pension; it’s based on their budgeted salary in the year they retire. Pension contributions for overtime and extra-duty work go into a defined-contribution plan, a 401(k), instead of a defined-benefit plan.

DeStefano proposes further concessions along those lines so that the city pays a defined contribution pension only for a cop’s base pay.

He proposed the same change for firefighters, who get paid the 70 percent of the average of their five highest years salary plus 50 percent of their extra-duty income.

DeStefano also called on workers to pay a greater share of their retirement costs. Right now, firefighters pay 8.75 percent, cops pay 9.75 percent, and other city workers pay 5 to 7 percent of their city paychecks toward the pension funds. DeStefano recommended increasing those amounts.

Other proposals include increasing the age and years of service qualifications and reducing the maximum benefit.

“Transparent” Talks

DeStefano can’t make any of these changes on his own: He needs to win approval either from arbitrators that are now handling 13 city union negotiations after talks stalled. Though the contracts have been sent to binding arbitration, both sides can choose to sit down at any point and try to negotiate.

His manner of discussing the pension reforms—out in the lofty atrium of City Hall—didn’t sit well with union representatives who crashed the press event.

When the mayor took questions from the audience, Richard Gudis (pictured), a staff attorney from AFSCME Council 15, spoke up. Council 15 represents Local 530, which has about 450 city cops.

“Quite possibly, we’d like to be partners on this, but we haven’t been given the opportunity,” Gudis told the mayor. “I’m just wondering why this hasn’t been presented to us privately.”

“Fair comment,” DeStefano responded. He replied that there are other people affected by the issue—including people who pay taxes and who receive city services.

“I think it’s going to be important going forward that we do this in as transparent fashion as possible with as many facts as possible.” DeStefano said while the city typically keeps bargaining issues private, “this isn’t going to be a typical time. ... There’s going to be, not that you don’t know this, a lot of hard choices to make.”

“We’re all aware what the problem is,” Gudis later responded. “But I don’t appreciate starting off bargaining” in the open in City Hall, when negotiations are meant to be private.

“The reality is you can’t negotiate transparently,” Gudis said. “What goes on behind the scenes should stay behind the scenes.”

Police union President Lou Cavaliere said it was too soon to comment on the mayor’s specific proposals when he had just been handed the material.

AFSCME Council 4 spokesman Larry Dorman took aim at the mayor for chipping away at workers’ benefits. Council 4 represents 1,500 city and Board of Ed employees in five unions.

“Trying to roll back retirement benefits is an erosion of the middle class,” Dorman said. He said the union has asked the mayor “to sit down and come up with ways to work together to identify savings” that don’t cut into worker benefits. For example, he suggested New Haven join a state prescription plan, as Hartford has done.

 

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posted by: JAK on February 1, 2011  9:25am

Gudis and Dorman - Get real.  Whatever is signed WILL be transparent.  Don’t you think that we the taxpayers have had enough of “private” backroom deals held by politicians and lawyers?  That’s how we got into this mess.  The sleazy backroom deals have robbed from the public pure and simple.  And for 20 years the mayor has been an accomplice to the crime. 

But at least now the mayor is turning a new leaf.  EVERYTHING you want is on the table, in the open, and under a magnifying glass.  Taxpayers, NHCAN, and aldermen will be looking at every sentence, every clause, every comma.  And if this administration doesn’t deliver radical reform, they are done in November.

There doesn’t need to be another candidate until the summer time.  Because if the taxpayers get screwed again, someone will rise up and take the election on the back of public anger.  Thats how much things have changed.  And you know what?  You can’t do a damn thing about it because most of your members don’t vote in New Haven. 

This mayor has come out too weak on reform.  He thinks we should maintain a fixed benefit when the investment can lose 20-40% of its value in an economic downturn?  Why the hell should taxpayers guarantee a lucrative retirement for public employees when they don’t get one themselves?  There is a huge cost for bearing the investment risk.  The union never acknowledges that. 

And Dorman, I don’t go to work so I can save union jobs and benefits from eroding. I go to work for my own family. And I am willing to pay taxes to support collective services but at the best price and value.  And if there are cheaper and more efficient ways to go and my mayor doesn’t pursue those options, I and others like me will fire him. 

Get real.

posted by: failed leadership on February 1, 2011  10:21am

Where is Local 825 leadership? Pat Egan can you please reconsider your move to Asst Chief our new leadership is asleep at the wheel.

posted by: where are you on February 1, 2011  10:36am

Kottage?Ricci?Kottage?Ricci?Kottage?Ricci? anyone!

posted by: streever on February 1, 2011  11:06am

Let us read the subtext here, too, and not just see the sensational: by their comments, it sounds as if the Union is asking for back-alley dealings, and the Mayor is insisting on transparent, open communications.

If that is so, I applaud the Mayor for finally bringing transparency to these important dealings.

However, I suspect—I may be wrong and I hope that I am—that “transparency” is code for airing grievances in the open as a bargaining measure. Now, I concede that this sounds like a step in the right direction, but having seen previous years (The Mayor insisting on givebacks then giving out raises to his top staff, for example) I am highly suspicious.

After the way he has betrayed people who agreed to compromise and meet him in the middle in the past, I am skeptical that this time will be any different.

We’ll see what happens. With that in my mind, I will withhold final judgement until we see how all of this plays out.

I think Dorman makes some good suggestions (State prescription plan) and the Mayor should allow him to present his ideas for cost-saving in a public venue.

posted by: answer on February 1, 2011  11:43am

Streever as a union member i have some knowledge of how the negotiation process works. In the past the city and the unions have had a confidentiality clause in place when they are having contract negotiations. I believe the city usually insists on this to negotiate in good faith,but it seems the mayor has changed his mind. It seems he is trying to get the public to back him and label police and fire as greedy. As a union member i understand some changes need to be made,with that said why are local politicians putting all of the cities poor decisions on the backs of police and fire. The mayor is the one who was more then happy to sign our contracts when he was running for governor and his board of alderman voted right along with him! Police and firemen give everything they have to keep this city safe we all know we are going through tough times and there will be some changes but to keep attacking us once a week in the media is that really necessary!

posted by: ignoranceisbliss on February 1, 2011  11:49am

Joining the State prescription plan saves at most $200,000-300,000 per year. The City is looking at a budget shortfall in this current fiscal year of about $10,000,000 and next year about $55,000,000.

The unions have to get real.

posted by: blue dog dem on February 1, 2011  12:05pm

Couple of things:

1 what was the discount rate that Holcombe used to decide the amount we are underfunded?  If its 8%, then more than likely we are at a minimum an additional 10-20 million underfunded.

2 we have a budget committee that reviews suggestions made by the town’s investment advisor.  Is it rubber-stamping poor choices or is there strict analysis of the choices?

3 How much is the investment advisor being paid to lose our money and when is the last time this position went out to bid?

4 How many times in the past ten years has the city fully funded its pension obligations?  It seems JDS is making a big statement about this year fully funding it, leading me to believe he hasn’t been in the past few years, contributing to our shortfall and tax increase

5 Need to eliminate the defined contribution payments for the extra duty work as it is their personal choice to work at a worksite and get paid for it.  Change the law and let utility employees regulate traffic, etc like they do in NY.

6 The erosion of the middle class will come when pension checks bounce and the city can’t pay retirees’ health bills.

7 Last, JDS can unilaterally change the contracts by putting the city into bankruptcy and starting all the contracts from scratch.  The employees can either agree to new terms or look for employment elsewhere.  It’s cold but a fact of life in this environment.

I’d like to see the NHI address questions/points such as these rather than just parrot what was said at the presser.

posted by: Threefifths on February 1, 2011  12:25pm

The only way you will have a fair agreement is you must do like New York and Other States and that is go to a Retirement Tier System.

http://www.osc.state.ny.us/retire/members/find_your_tier.htm

Check out under the Retirement Tier System,How
the Final Average Salary (FAS)works by tier.

http://www.osc.state.ny.us/retire/members/final_average_salary.htm

Check out COLA.

http://www.osc.state.ny.us/retire/retirees/cost_of_living_adjustment.htm

And by the way you still have to pay tax on your cola.

posted by: Stopspending.com on February 1, 2011  2:46pm

I do not work for the police or fire and live in NH,own my home and pay hefty taxes. I have been watching our mayor of New Haven in despair. I have not seen one other mayor in any other town in CT launch a public attack on his employees like this mayor has. I have not seen one other mayor in CT try to negotiate through the press like this mayor is doing. Transparency my butt!
As a taxpayer I will tell you the general public who does not write into the NHI or any other media are not buying into this mayor. Some vocal habitual write ins are, but most residents are not. You better start taking responsibility for this huge deficit. First you wiped people out of their homes by imminent domain to build your new schools. You continue to build your schools and never mention how much that is costing us. The reimbursement from the state will not be happening like you project with school building program and the state has already said no to many of your buildings because of you frivolous spending inside them. Stop building schools mayor you are killing us. You have spent and spent with no consideration to us, the taxpayers! Raises for your administrators and fancy 401a’s for them. Now you think you can use the employees for all these problems and use the taxpayers anger to get re-elected. I am hopeful that won’t happen if someone will just step forward who is a decent human being. And one thing you keep private is your new employees in this administration is in a 401(a) like the Sean Matteson’s of the your world. This means they are not paying in one red cent, you are through the taxpayers pocket paying for them 15% (7 1/2 for the contribution and 7 1/2 for SS).They are not investing one red cent of their own money. They are vested from day one. Like the former Chief Police Lewis, they will be leaving with a wonderful pocket full of money)! Lewis after only 18 months left with almost $30,000 of taxpayers money.Hey,not his fault you made sure that was the deal. So mayor let’s re-think your transparency issue again and that works from both sides you know. You are conniving and less convincing week by week.

posted by: nhfplevents on February 1, 2011  3:01pm

I am a City employee. Guilty. I would like to point out that I am prevented from contributing to Social Security, which does provide cost of living increases. When I retire my City pension will be less than I would receive had I had the opportunity to participate in Social Security. Taxpayers—which we all are in one way or another—should understand that most City pensions are in fact very modest. Do I not deserve SOMETHING in retirement?

posted by: blue dog dem on February 1, 2011  3:53pm

@nhfplevents

You definitely deserve something in retirement, and I don’t think anyone questions that.  The problem, however, is that if drastic changes aren’t made, there will be nothing for you to receive in retirement.  Your pension is a pot of money that will be depleted from poor investment returns, poor management, inadequate contributions and distribution to all the retirees within the system. 

Once the money is gone, the only way for it to be replaced is through our taxes and as they’ve done in other cities in the US, the town will decide to keep paying active employees versus paying pensions to retired employees.  Meaning that you won’t be getting the pension that you were planning on, probably through no fault of your own. Or worse, imagine collecting your pension then all of a sudden the amount drops by half or stops completely.  What will you do then?  It’s a bad situation that must be addressed now, as it is not going away, no matter how many times JDS clicks his ruby reds.

For too long JDS pretended that it was Monopoly money that he could create and move behind closed doors.  Those days are gone and now he actually has to govern the city instead of just playing games with our tax dollars.

posted by: JAK on February 1, 2011  5:00pm

Blue Dog

Two great posts. 

I would add to nhlfpevents that we can’t know if you “deserve” anything.  Where I work I don’t deserve anything unless I produce something.  I get reviewed at least twice a year and I don’t pay a representative to negotiate for me.  What I do is try really hard to do a good job so that when lay-offs happen (and they do), I will be viewed as vital.

I don’t have a pension and unfortunately my 401K lost 40% of its value 2 years ago. Do I “deserve” someone to pay me back?  I’ve got college expenses and so I am planning to work until way past 70 if I can.  So tell me again why should you look to me to make you whole?

Unfortunately for you, city government has historically rewarded things like seniority and cronyism at the expense of productivity and competence.  I’m not saying that there aren’t hardworking productive employees in muncipal government, there are plenty.  But I am saying that the good ones have to carry the water for the unproductive ones because a long time ago you agreed to collective bargaining and not individual bargaining.  And when things get tight like they are now, good workers (perhaps like you) get screwed just the same as the deadwood. 

I sincerely wish you luck in what promises to be a very tough period for all of us.

posted by: Threefifths on February 1, 2011  6:52pm

posted by: JAK on February 1, 2011 5:00pm

I would add to nhlfpevents that we can’t know if you “deserve” anything.  Where I work I don’t deserve anything unless I produce something.  I get reviewed at least twice a year and I don’t pay a representative to negotiate for me.  What I do is try really hard to do a good job so that when lay-offs happen (and they do), I will be viewed as vital.

How come you don’t form a union on your job,And then you can get the same benfits.


don’t have a pension and unfortunately my 401K lost 40% of its value 2 years ago. Do I “deserve” someone to pay me back?  I’ve got college expenses and so I am planning to work until way past 70 if I can.  So tell me again why should you look to me to make you whole?

Can’t Blame the unions for your 401k Lost.The Blame belongs to the crooks on wall Street.Also
check this out.


Why It’s Time to Retire the 401(k)
By Stephen Gandel Friday, Oct. 09, 2009

http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1929119-1,00.html

Unfortunately for you, city government has historically rewarded things like seniority and cronyism at the expense of productivity and competence.  I’m not saying that there aren’t hardworking productive employees in muncipal government, there are plenty.  But I am saying that the good ones have to carry the water for the unproductive ones because a long time ago you agreed to collective bargaining and not individual bargaining.  And when things get tight like they are now, good workers (perhaps like you) get screwed just the same as the deadwood. 

And so has Private industry with there Golden parachutes

Golden Parachutes: How the Bankers Went Down


http://www.mint.com/blog/finance-core/golden-parachutes-how-the-bankers-went-down/

Like I said before,All you union hates benfit from worker unions IE: Workers Compensation Unemployment Insurance,40hr Work Week,The Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Child Labor Laws.It was the union workers dues that paid for the lawyers to go to court for these rights that you non-union people now benfit from.

posted by: JAK on February 1, 2011  9:26pm

Why don’t I form a union?  Because I don’t believe in getting something for nothing.  I am not interested in slowing work down, I want to move ahead.  I don’t want to carry dead wood.  I want to clear it out.  It’s not about what I “deserve”, it’s about what I produce. I want to rise or fall on my ability and not on my seniority.  I won’t like go through life as victim.  I don’t begrudge people who work hard and make a lot of money.  I don’t want to penalize them for their hard work, their smarts, or even their good fortune.  I believe in the power of the individual, American capitalism, and the opportunity to succeed - or fail. 

I don’t blame anyone for my 401k loss.  It was my decision alone.  No one forced me to put my investment in anything. 

Yeah, the labor unions in private industry were good for our country once upon a time.  But they have long since lived out their usefulness.  Ever since they were allowed to enter the public sector they have turned into economic cancers.  Now all they do is prey upon corrupt politicians and the ignorance of the taxpayers.

posted by: blue dog dem on February 1, 2011  10:37pm

@JAK
Wow!  I’m very impressed with both your posts as well.  My sentiments exactly.

@3/5s
I am pro-union, but agree with all of JAK’s comments.  The uniformed unions in NYC all have contracts that were negotiated fairly and without hidden surprises that will come back to hurt the taxpayers.  These generous perks fall at JDS’ feet and no one elses. 

You cannot blame the unions for getting the best deal possible and they could not have known at the time that financial mismanagement would cause these sweetheart deals to be unsustainable.  Once the public sector was allowed to collectively bargain, it was the beginning of the end.

posted by: richgetricher on February 1, 2011  11:20pm

It gets more bizarre all the time. The Mayor obviously has no interest at all in negotiating and having constructive discussions with city workers. He seems hell-bent on proposing massive layoffs and tearing up union contracts and thinks that the best way to set that up is to hold a daily press conference bashing of city employees. I’m embarrassed - New Haven is better than this.

posted by: Real Justice on February 2, 2011  9:26am

The Mayor has bankrupted the city by building too many schools and giving sweet heart deals to the cops and school administrators. Who should pay the price. The taxpayers should, as they’ve been voting him back into office for 18 years.

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS.

posted by: Threefifths on February 2, 2011  11:35am

posted by: JAK on February 1, 2011 9:26pm

Why don’t I form a union?  Because I don’t believe in getting something for nothing.

How is forming a union getting something for nothing. Asnwer this question that you seem to be ducking. Are you not geting Workers Compensation Unemployment Insurance,40hr Work Week,The Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Child Labor Laws,Beacuse if you have they you have to thank the unions.Again Are you going to give up thoses benfits that the union won. P.S. Do you have OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration rights on your job.

I believe in the power of the individual, American capitalism, and the opportunity to succeed - or fail. 

And it was Grand theft Capitalism that now has nerly 44 million people now in proverty,Also One in five children in proverty.

“The forces in a capitalist society, if left unchecked, tend to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.”
Jawaharlal Nehru

Capitalism justified itself and was adopted as an economic principle on the express ground that it provides selfish motives for doing good, and that human beings will do nothing except for selfish motives”

George Bernard Shaw

I don’t blame anyone for my 401k loss.  It was my decision alone.  No one forced me to put my investment in anything. 

There are some jobs were the Employers sit up the 401k system and the employee is force to use it.

Yeah, the labor unions in private industry were good for our country once upon a time.  But they have long since lived out their usefulness.  Ever since they were allowed to enter the public sector they have turned into economic cancers.  Now all they do is prey upon corrupt politicians and the ignorance of the taxpayers.

Give me the names of the unions you are talking
about that have turned into economic cancers. In fact the economic cancers came from wall street and bankers Which run the corrupt politicians. And by the why we union people are taxpayers also.So I will ask you again Will you give up the benfits that you enjoy because the union won the rights for all workers to benfit from Workers Compensation Unemployment Insurance,40hr Work Week,The Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Child Labor Laws,OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

posted by: blue dog dem on February 1, 2011 10:37pm

@3/5s
I am pro-union, but agree with all of JAK’s comments.  The uniformed unions in NYC all have contracts that were negotiated fairly and without hidden surprises that will come back to hurt the taxpayers.  These generous perks fall at JDS’ feet and no one elses. 

You answer you own question.The city negotiated
the contract.Also union protect workers rights,Did you know that workers rights are Violate more on non-union jobs,They jobs with union.Remember contract come up most of the time every three years.So most of the time unions are dealing with workers job rights.

P.S JAK
This is why you need unions.

Angry employees at Central Park’s Boathouse Restaurant secretly taping their bosses
Juan Gonzalez - News

Friday, January 28th 2011

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2011/01/28/2011-01-28_restaurant_staffs_tale_of_the_tape.html

posted by: blue dog dem on February 2, 2011  12:38pm

@3/5s

I disagree with your statement about workers’ rights being violated more when a union isn’t present.  In this day and age, we are such a litigious society that nothing goes unpunished.  Second, when given the right to organize or remain free from being required to enter into a union, most opt for remaining out.  I’m sure you can provide numerous citations as to why I’m wrong, and I can find others to prove my point, but the most recent example are the auto plants in TN and KY who refused the UAWs attempt to unionize.  And BTW, those shops are profitable and didn’t need bailouts. 

Union membership is at an all-time low and yet, if you look at the amount of money donated on behalf of membership to political campaigns, per capita it is more than the Wall Street average.  Why?  Union money should be for membership and not to be given to campaigns hoping for legislative favors.  It should be for improving benefits, etc instead of wasted on politicians.  The fact that middle class incomes have leveled off is not because of union wages, but from private sector jobs losing income.  Like JAK, I’m in the private sector and if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. 

The system is entirely flawed.  Lawmakers make rules to help union administrations, not members, stay in power.  Union administrations spend tons of money (e.g., SEIU borrowing tens of millions from it’s members pension plan to spend on election campaigns in 2010) on getting the same politicians elected.  If the politicians cared for the members, then they would pass laws helping the middle class. For two years they pushed through unconstitutional healthcare instead of working on the economy, and the healthcare bill is keeping small biz from hiring union and non-union labor because they can’t get the exemptions that the administration is handing out to their friends. Over half of the small businesses that I do biz with are hanging on by a thread and have told me that they are probably going under this year or next if things don’t change.  Increasing the age of dependents to 26 from 21 led to 25-40% increases in rates, even when the employer might not have had any workers with children in that age bracket.  Employers now are passing on the costs to their employees who realize that elections have consequences.  Instead of free healthcare, their getting less take home pay and putting their kids into HUSKY because they can’t afford health care for their spouses and kids combined. 

Most fat cat donors from Wall Street are dems and this year was the highest comp ever received on Wall Street, but I guess that will be Bush’ fault too.  It’s the middle class that is the backbone of this country and we are the independents that have had enough. Raising taxes on people making over $250,000 is a joke because that hits small biz.  You want fairness, hit the hedge fund guys, like Paulson who just made $5 billion last year, with ordinary income tax.  They pay capital gains taxes, not ordinary income, so he’ll save about 25% ($1.25 Billion) in taxes.  But the hedge funds guys are the ones who gave overwhelmingly for Obama in 2008, so I guess that rate will stay put for a while.

posted by: Threefifths on February 2, 2011  3:31pm

posted by: blue dog dem on February 2, 2011 12:38pm
@3/5s

I disagree with your statement about workers’ rights being violated more when a union isn’t present.  In this day and age, we are such a litigious society that nothing goes unpunished.  Second, when given the right to organize or remain free from being required to enter into a union, most opt for remaining out.  I’m sure you can provide numerous citations as to why I’m wrong, and I can find others to prove my point, but the most recent example are the auto plants in TN and KY who refused the UAWs attempt to unionize.  And BTW, those shops are profitable and didn’t need bailouts. 

Yes I can provide numerous citations and all you have to do is go to the U.S. Department of Labor.You say that in TN and KY refused the UAWs attempt to unionize.But they are not geting the full benfits as those who have unionize.Also the public sector unions are more strong then,your private sector unions.


Union membership is at an all-time low and yet, if you look at the amount of money donated on behalf of membership to political campaigns, per capita it is more than the Wall Street average.  Why?  Union money should be for membership and not to be given to campaigns hoping for legislative favors.  It should be for improving benefits, etc instead of wasted on politicians.  The fact that middle class incomes have leveled off is not because of union wages, but from private sector jobs losing income.  Like JAK, I’m in the private sector and if I don’t work, I don’t get paid.

How about the Supreme Court that says Business have Free Speech and that political contributions from businesses are covered under the Constitution as Free Speech. They ruled that a corporation can use its finances to fund commercials against specific candidates or any cause they want.So why stop the unions from doing the same.


The fact that middle class incomes have leveled off is not because of union wages, but from private sector jobs losing income.  Like JAK, I’m in the private sector and if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. 

How about private sector jobs that went overseas.Also did you not choose to work in the private sector,You could have worked for the public sector.In fact I know people who left the private sector and Now work for the public sector.


The system is entirely flawed.  Lawmakers make rules to help union administrations, not members, stay in power.  Union administrations spend tons of money (e.g., SEIU borrowing tens of millions from it’s members pension plan to spend on election campaigns in 2010) on getting the same politicians elected.  If the politicians cared for the members, then they would pass laws helping the middle class. For two years they pushed through unconstitutional healthcare instead of working on the economy, and the healthcare bill is keeping small biz from hiring union and non-union labor because they can’t get the exemptions that the administration is handing out to their friends.

Again you are talking about private sector unions.Did you know that in most public sector
unions you can Borrow money from your Pension.

http://www.osc.state.ny.us/retire/members/loans.htm

As far as Most fat cat donors from Wall Street are dems,not true.Both Dems and republican are in the same bed.

You said you are por union.Please explain.

P.S.How come the State Comptroller here will not do this.


New York, Ohio Pension Funds Named Co-Lead Plaintiffs in BP Oil Spill Suit


http://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/dec10/122910a.htm


CRF Settles Securities Suit Against Merrill Lynch

http://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/jan11/011311.htm

And the unions push this.

posted by: hockey sox on February 2, 2011  6:28pm

The Mayor has nobody to blame but himself for the Cities financial mess. He’s been running the City for almost 20 years. The Unions didn’t tell him to rebuild every school in the City. What does the State reimburse New Haven 80 percent. That leaves the taxpayers on the hook for the other 20 percent if you owe 5 Million on 10 schools that’s 50 Million ( I’m sure the numbers are higher ).Plus he takes out full page adds in the Register to promote Magnet Schools providing free transportation ,tuition, breakfast , lunch and child care to anyone who wants to go there whether you live in Hamden, Guilford ,Seymour or wherever,plus some stay open past 5 o’clock . Every thing in New Haven is free ,not to mention all the freebies for all the illegals that live in New Haven. Talking of pensions Maybe the Mayor should set an example for the Police and Fire Unions when he retires and take 50 percent of his base pay and a 401k ( Yeah Right )

posted by: blue dog dem on February 2, 2011  6:51pm

@Three-Fifths

The auto workers down south get the same benefits as the ones in Detroit, except they don’t have a union that has massive pension and health liabilities.  They also get paid slightly less, but they had the choice and chose against a union.  It costs the Detroit auto workers almost $20 more an hour to do the same job as the non-organized shops.

I’m not against unions spending money on elections.  I’d just like to see a union administration put the donations to a vote of it’s membership, rather than raid their pension without their approval.  The primary way unions get money is through the dues, so by taking the members’ pension money without their permission to spend on political ads and then using new dues to pay back the money, do you think that is going to happen?  What expenditure is the union going to cut so that it can pay back the money it “borrowed” from it’s members’ pension? 

That’s why SEIU and the UAW are pressuring Casey in PA to push the pension bill, because they’ve bankrupted theirs in support of candidates who they thought would deliver them from their mismanagement.  Sounds a lot like JDS and New Haven.  Would you want your union pissing away your pension and dues without your permission or would you want them using it to better you and your family’s life?  They have a fiduciary responsibility to make sure the money is taken care of, and wasting it on political ads is not a great way to use the money.

The administrations of these unions are ridiculously overpaid.  When their members make $40,000 per year and they pay themselves $200,000 to $800,000 per year is a crime. 

I work with two of the five largest unions in NYC and am negotiating with two of the other three to take on some of their benefits.  I know their contracts and how the administrations operate and none of them are as corruptly run as some of these larger, politically active unions.  If the head of one of these unions would take the pension money of his members to use on ads (or anything else for that matter) they’d hang him from a street light. 

I owe my livelihood to unions and have done my best in representing my clients interests.  I have helped in their contract negotiations and respect how these clients use the give and take to make their members’ lives better. I remember when unions in NYC loaned money to keep the city from going bankrupt and were rewarded for doing so.  If they hadn’t, God knows what would have befallen their members and the City also.

Again, I don’t fault unions for trying to get the best possible deal, but when it cannot be sustained, then they need to realize a part of a loaf beats the hell out of nothing. New Haven is as close to bankrupt as a city can get and these unions need to figure out how to sustain their members’ and retirees’ benefits because if the city goes bankrupt they really won’t have much say in the matter.

Unions have every right to think the gov’t will bail them out because it bails out Wall Street.  The difference between Madoff and Goldman Sachs is that one is in jail and the other got gov’t subsidies as too big to fail.  Let them fail and be out of work, quit bailing them out and then this wouldn’t happen again.

And you’re wrong about the Wall Street donations.  I misspoke about the year.  It was 2008 not 2010, and overwhelmingly Wall Street went for Obama, something like 80-90% of the donations went his way.  That’s when I knew he was going to win, because these guys get paid to be right, especially when it’s their own money.

posted by: Threefifths on February 2, 2011  9:53pm

posted by: blue dog dem on February 2, 2011 6:51pm
@Three-Fifths

The auto workers down south get the same benefits as the ones in Detroit, except they don’t have a union that has massive pension and health liabilities.  They also get paid slightly less, but they had the choice and chose against a union.  It costs the Detroit auto workers almost $20 more an hour to do the same job as the non-organized shops

My point,They get paid slightly less.Also most of these workers start as contingency hires. BMW in south Karolina use contingency workers.


I’m not against unions spending money on elections.  I’d just like to see a union administration put the donations to a vote of it’s membership, rather than raid their pension without their approval.  The primary way unions get money is through the dues, so by taking the members’ pension money without their permission to spend on political ads and then using new dues to pay back the money, do you think that is going to happen?  What expenditure is the union going to cut so that it can pay back the money it “borrowed” from it’s members’ pension? 

I retired from the state of New York and I was in the union,And I never heard of taking the members’ pension money without their permission to spend on political ads and then using new dues to pay back the money.What tey did do is let you fill out a form to have your dues go to the political party of you choice.

The administrations of these unions are ridiculously overpaid.  When their members make $40,000 per year and they pay themselves $200,000 to $800,000 per year is a crime.

The union memebers need to address this.Most people in unions are not vocal.They need to address this.And Not all union heads make thid type of money.You say you work in New York.Look at King Bloomberg and he has got more richer for the past eight years he has been in office.look at the contracts his boys have got.

Unions have every right to think the gov’t will bail them out because it bails out Wall Street.  The difference between Madoff and Goldman Sachs is that one is in jail and the other got gov’t subsidies as too big to fail.  Let them fail and be out of work, quit bailing them out and then this wouldn’t happen again.

Unions are being blame for what happen on wall street.In fact it was wall street that put this country in the hole that it is in.


And you’re wrong about the Wall Street donations.  I misspoke about the year.  It was 2008 not 2010, and overwhelmingly Wall Street went for Obama, something like 80-90% of the donations went his way.  That’s when I knew he was going to win, because these guys get paid to be right, especially when it’s their own money.

They are now Shift Toward Republicans.

http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2010/08/financial-industry-related-politica.html

Last,Contract negotiating for wages is about ten percent of what unions work on for there memembers.The rest is making shure the contract
is enforced.

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