Dear Wayne County Retiree:

FINALLY, GOOD NEWS OUT OF LANSING

At 3 am this morning both Houses adopted and passed substitutes to their Municipal Finance Reform package that essentially adopted the Governor’s Task Force report and removed the onerous provisions attacking collective bargaining and jeopardizing retiree health care.

 

There is still more to do as the bills now must sit for 5 days in the other chamber before concurrence and presentation to the Governor.  There are a few places that need some language cleaned up and the other side has agreed to work with us on fixing those glitches but even if they don’t we were able to get most everything we asked for.  Unless something really strange happens, we will have a major legislative victory for the first time in a long time.

 

All of organized labor stood together and stood strong proving that solidarity is more than just a big word.  Thanks to everyone for your activism.  If we keep it up we can finally start to turn things around.

 

NICK CIARAMITARO, Director

Legislation and Public Policy

Michigan AFSCME Council 25

Cell:  313-330-5313

LATEST UPDATE ON PENSION LEGISLATION IN LANSING

Municipal Retirement Bills Face Uphill Battle In Both Chambers

Both the House and Senate lack the votes, by large numbers as of Tuesday evening, to pass legislation being pushed by Governor Rick Snyder and Republican legislative leaders requiring local governments to fund post-employment benefits to certain levels and put in place a process for oversight.

Identical bill packages moved through House and Senate committees on Tuesday. But sources speaking on background said both Republican caucuses are significantly below the votes needed to pass the bills and Democrats remain unsupportive as local officials and union groups oppose elements of the bills they say could damage pensions and health care benefits.

Mr. Snyder visited both caucuses during their respective sessions on Tuesday with Treasurer Nick Khouri, who also spoke in support of the bills during committees earlier in the day. While the administration is pushing the bills, it is unclear if it will be enough to get the votes needed.

The Senate Michigan Competitiveness Committee reported all 16 bills on 4-1 votes following nearly three hours of testimony. The Senate has placed the bills on its tentative agenda for action Wednesday. Typically, Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) would not have controversial bills moved to the floor and scheduled for action if the votes also did not exist to pass the bills on the floor, but sources put the number of yes votes on the bill at anywhere from nine to 11 votes – not even close to the 20 needed or even the 19 that would allow Lt. Governor Brian Calley to break a 19-19 tie.

“I view this set of bills as preventative medicine,” Sen. Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), the committee’s chair, said following the reporting of the bills.

Supporters of the legislation agreed, saying the longer local governments wait to address a growing crisis, the more difficult a solution will be.

The House took testimony on an identical package and reported the 16 bills 5-4 with Rep. Jason Wentworth (R-Clare) voting no with all three Democrats on committee. The House approved minor changes to HB 5298” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”> and HB 5299” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”> to remove a Freedom of Information Act exemption.

House Democrats offered several amendments that failed along party lines, including one to remove the appropriation in the legislation so it could be subject to referendum. One amendment offered by Rep. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) that was approved would prohibit any former emergency manager from serving on the financial management team created under the bills.

The financial management team would have broad powers to implement corrective plans for municipalities that continue to underfund their retirement systems as determined by the treasurer. Those powers would include being able to alter local budgets and sell local assets.

Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland) said the legislation is not an attack on local governments or unions but establishes a structure for addressing a growing crisis in unfunded liabilities. A task force report said local government pension and other post-employment benefit obligations are underfunded to the tune of $17.4 billion.

Mr. Stamas said the purpose of the package is “to protect and serve those who protect and serve us.”

Local government officials and unions, though, said the legislation would give the state broad authority to overturn local decisions on retirement packages and potentially undermine local pensions. What would arguably lead to an expansion of the emergency manager law in the context of fixing pensions is also a significant concern.

While local government groups and unions agreed overall to the consensus that retirement systems need to be better funded, the final phase of the plan – the financial management team – is a problem, they said.

Midland Fire Chief Chris Coughlin spoke in opposition on behalf of several fire fighter and law enforcement associations and union groups to both the House and Senate committees.

“We risk our lives in these professions knowing that we will never be billionaires but that we will have the benefits to protect us in the event of serious injury or death and into retirement,” Mr. Coughlin said. “The recognition of this risk and the continued diminishment of benefits have made attracting and retaining our force very difficult. The proposed legislation will continue to erode our ability to attract and retain the most qualified to protect our communities.”

Union groups specifically are pushing for the Legislature to act simply on the task force report released in the summer. The bills contain much of what was in the task force, but the state oversight and intervention was not included in the report.

Sen. Rick Jones (R-Grand Ledge) last week said he would not vote for the package if it went beyond what was agreed upon by stakeholders who were part of the task force. As a former law enforcement member and former sheriff, Mr. Jones says he stands with his peers in not giving up local control of retirement systems.

Mr. Jones added that when the state has not adequately funded OPEB for the Department of State Police “it’s very hard for the state to go out” and clamp down on local units of government on funding retirement benefits.

Mark Docherty, with the Michigan Professional Fire Fighters Union, also part of the coalition, said the worry among members was that communities that are healthy and can continue funding their retirement systems properly could choose to reduce benefits if they wanted under the bills.

But local government groups, including the Michigan Municipal League, the Michigan Townships Association and the Michigan Association of Counties, said their municipalities would not seek to reduce benefits by going through the financial management team process.

Tony Minghine, with the MML, said the group is seeking modernize benefits to better reflect the current health care system. He said post-retirement health care plans created in 1985 do not reflect the 2017 health care market.

Chris DeRose, the chief executive officer of the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System of Michigan, said the bills as written would mandate that closed defined benefit plans would not be able to reoffer a defined benefit plan and could inadvertently prohibit hybrid plans.

“In addition to not allowing plans to reopen, (the bills) eliminate local control and in some cases prevents them from making the most cost-effective decision for their communities,” he said in prepared remarks.

Business groups, including the National Federation of Independent Business, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce spoke in support of the bills.

The bills create a five-phase process to address underfunded local retirement plans. The first two phases establish reporting requirements, funding ratios and triggers for the state to label a system as underfunded to ensure the retirement systems are being adequately funded.

Local governments could receive a five-year waiver in the third phase if they provide evidence of working on fixing underfunded retirement systems. The fourth phase involves negotiating a corrective action plan with local leaders, which would be required within 180 days of being determined underfunded.

A three-member board within the Department of Treasury would be appointed by the governor to provide oversight and approve local government corrective action plans.

Those unable to negotiate an agreement, or if the board determines a plan is not being implemented properly, would move on to the final phase. This would be financial emergency oversight by a financial management team.

The team would have broad powers to fix a municipality’s system, with options including amending local budgets and selling local assets.

Mr. Coughlin said many emergency responders retire long before being eligible to Medicare due to the physical effects of their professions. He also cited concerns over allowing municipalities to change current retiree health care benefits.

“They will create a mini-emergency manager law that has the potential to allow the state to impose changes on a community that may not be in a financial emergency,” Mr. Coughlin said.

Mr. Khouri supported the legislation, saying since plans to correct pension and health care systems take years to have in place and become fully funded “at some point action is necessary.”

“Stop digging the hole. This starts to address that,” Mr. Khouri said. “Every year you don’t fund your normal costs, you’re digging a hole.”

Sen. Dave Robertson (R-Grand Blanc) agreed.

“Arithmetic has no political party. We have to confront the arithmetic,” Mr. Robertson said.

Sen. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) compared the legislation to having work done on a home, with half the cost paid up front and the other half paid when the work is done. She said supporters of the bill sound to her as though they do not want to pay the second half of what is owed “because it’s expensive.”

The House bills are HB 5298, HB 5299, HB 5300” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>HB 5301” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>HB 5302” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>HB 5303” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>HB 5304” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>HB 5305” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>HB 5306” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>HB 5307” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>HB 5308” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>HB 5309” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>HB 5310” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>HB 5311” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>HB 5312” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”> and HB 5313” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>.

The Senate bills are SB 686” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>SB 687” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>SB 688” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>SB 689” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>SB 690” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>SB 691” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>SB 692” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>SB 693” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>SB 694” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>SB 695” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>SB 696” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>SB 697” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>SB 698” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>SB 699” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>,SB 700” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”> and SB 701” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>.

REVENUE SHARING: The House committee also reported HB 5314” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>HB 5315” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”> and HB 5316” src=”cid:image001.jpg@01D36E3F.D82B0790″ alt=”*” border=”0″ class=”Apple-web-attachment Singleton” style=”width: 0.1083in; height: 0.1083in;”>, all on 6-0 votes with the three Democrats on the committee abstaining. The bills would create revenue sharing trust funds and earmark sales tax revenue to revenue sharing.

Deena Bosworth, with the Michigan Association of Counties, said local units of government are not able to recover from the Great Recession the same way the state can. Revenue sharing reductions – which are about $8 billion since 2002 – are considered by many a contributor to problems with retirement benefit funding.

 

 

NICK CIARAMITARO, Director

Legislation and Public Policy

Michigan AFSCME Council 25

Cell:  313-330-5313

MICHIGAN STATE LEGISLATORS MOVING FAST TO ATTACK PUBLIC PENSIONS

Attached is a letter from Mark Porter relating to public employee retirees medical, if the House and Senate pass the new legislation next week.

 

Please read the Porter letter; the Wayne County Retiree’s Association and AFSCME Sub-Chapter 38 is in the process of trying to figure out what we can do to put a stop to this new legislation, which also creates a new Mini Emergency Manager Law.

 

It looks like the train has left the station and we will have a hard time trying to stop it. The Governor lied to a group of union leaders representing Police and Fire employees last Thursday, when he said the new laws will not impact existing retirees.

 

How these new laws will impact on Wayne County and its Stipend retirees is still up in the air and will need to be addressed after the Bills are signed by the Governor.

 

A state wide concerted action of all Public Employees may have to be call for, if the Governor signals that he will sign the new legislation.

 

Jim Akhtar

 

Jamil Akhtar

7577 U.S. Hwy 12

Onsted, Mi. 49265

Office 1-517-467-7373

Cell 1-248-770-0007

Fax 1-517-940-4401

Email jimakhtar@att.net

Web jimakhtar.com

 

IMPORTANT UPDATE ON PENDING LEGISLATION THAT WILL AFFECT

RETIREE BENEFITS

NOVEMBER 21, 2017

The current move in Lansing to eliminate your health care benefits is moving forward – NOW.  If you think this doesn’t affect you and your family, think again, and then DO something about it.  All the tools you need were presented at the November 21st Emergency meeting and are being provided for you below.   Please share with every retiree and active government worker you know.

A message From Nick Ciarmitaro Director of Legislation and Public Policy for Michigan AFSCME Council 25;

THIS IS NOT A JOKE ….  Drafts are under consideration for introduction and possible hearings as early as next week which would make retiree health care for current municipal retirees optional with the employer unless you retired under a collective bargaining agreement that “clearly and expressly” conferred a longer period of time. Other provisions would allow action after a full review of funding but this provision would apply to ALL current retirees.  

We do not know what the final bill will look like but this is clearly on the table.  It would apply to all employees of cities, townships, counties, road commissions, airport authorities and other public authorities including public hospital employees like nurses, and even those not eligible for Medicare.

NOVEMBER 29TH RALLY IN LANSING 
SAMPLE LETTER/EMAIL/CALL TO YOUR REPRESENTATIVE
HOUSE LIST
SENATOR LIST
COFFEE HOURS FOR NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017
NOVEMBER 21, 2017 EMERGENCY MEETING AGENDA

Find Your Senator: Click here
Find your Representative: Click here
Find your Wayne County Commissioner Click here
Find your Macomb County Commissioner Click here
Find your Oakland County Commissioner Click here

A Message from the WCRA President – Eugene Wright;

Retirement.  The very time in our lives when life gets slower and easier.  A time when travel, hobbies, grandchildren and the “fruits of our labor” to an employer and to our community should be offering us a safe haven to enjoy family, friends and our ‘golden years’. In Wayne County, and in many other cities, counties and states around the nation… the idea, the dream, the reality is cruelly and inexcusably (perhaps even criminally) being snatch away.

In the 80’s, 90’s and beyond, ALL Wayne County Employees sacrified what we didn’t need, so that we would all be able to survive on what we did need.  We came together, made countless contractual concessions, endured mandatory overtime, double shifts, payless paydays and reduced benefits.  We gave, and gave and GAVE. Even in post retirement for many, the giving continued.  The sacrifices were accepted.  All for the promise.. the guarantee of health benefits, pensions and the 13th check…. for ourselves and for the future of our familes. Knowing that as much as we wanted these things in our youth, it would be so very much more important later on.

Today… right here… right now… the giving has to stop.  The line in the sand needs to be drawn. Retiree’s have given enough.  The disrepect of our service to a heartless administration and a clueless community has to end. It’s time to band together again.  It’s time to send a message to Warren C. Evans and to those that came before, remain in power now, and to those that may be elected in the future.                       

                                                                           

UPDATE

November 14, 2017

The Wayne County Commission meets on Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 10:00 am at the Guardian Building located at 500 Griswold, 1st Floor Meeting Room, Detroit, MI 48226. There will be voting on an increase in the contract with Fink and Associates doubling the contract amount to the firm to fight the Courts ruling that the County Executive cannot replace the duly elected Retirement Board with his own Board, without a vote of the Citizen’s of Wayne County. We are requesting any retirees that are able to attend this meeting to please show up and support the Commissioners who have supported us on this issue. The Government Operations Committee voted to deny this increase but the County Executive is asking the Full Board to overturn that decision and allocate additional funds. The County Executive claims financial hardship yet can pay to continue a lawsuit that he has lost in Court and that the Wayne County Commission has argued against. Please take the time and make an effort to attend this important meeting to show the Commissioners this is an important issue to our members.

Also please review the speaking points and issues that may come up before the Michigan State Legislation in the next several weeks. The Republicans in Lansing want to gut the legislation that has protected out retirement pensions and benefits. We urge you to contact your State Rep and State Senator to voice your concerns and your opposition to any changes they are considering.

Finally, Please find attached a Newsletter from Commissioner Webb that has a few interesting articles on the current financial outlook for the County and funding for the Retirement System.

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