All Articles Tagged "pensions"
(Chicago Sun Times) — The pension and retirement fund for Chicago teachers hit the Chicago Board of Education with a lawsuit Wednesday, alleging the district fell short of this year’s $198 million contribution.
(AJC) — Thanks to roller-coaster stock returns and an aging population of workers, the state will have to plow an extra $150 million next year into its pension plans to make sure they remain sound. Teachers, who have seen furloughs, pay cuts and rising health insurance costs in recent years, will also be asked to pay more into their retirement plans. So will school districts.
(AJC) — The Atlanta City Council late Wednesday approved a bill to remake the city’s pension program for municipal employees, possibly saving Atlanta from years of escalating costs and tightened spending. By a vote of 15-0, the council approved sweeping pension changes aimed at paying off the city’s $1.5 billion unfunded pension liability and saving about $25 million annually. The plan requires all current police officers, fire fighters and general employees to take a 5 percent pay cut in the form of a higher pension contribution. It also reduces the so-called “multiplier,” used to calculate pension benefits of future workers to 1 percent, and reduces the maximum cost-of-living adjustment of pension benefits of future employees to 1 percent.
(AJC) — After years of struggle, including a week that saw some of Atlanta’s most intense internal political battles in years, the city is close to approving a plan to finally address its $1.5 billion pension shortfall. As early as Monday — if 10 crucial votes can be secured — the council could vote on pension reform. If it does, Atlanta would become one of a growing number of large American cities to come to terms with a financial crisis that also threatens the budgets of municipalities across the region. The plan, forged between Mayor Kasim Reed and a sometimes reluctant City Council, is expected to ease the city’s spending, avoid layoffs and maintain its pension for city workers, a demand that consumes about a fifth of the city’s annual budget.
DeMaurice Smith has always been confident. So much so that as the newly elected president of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) and overnight confidante to its 1,900 locked out members, he doesn’t bat an eye at the notion of being a relative outsider now entrusted with rescuing the sport from itself.
Then again, his ability has long rated as impressive. How else can you explain how the grandson of a sharecropper could rise to the position of having Barack Obama and Eric Holder on speed dial?
“There isn’t a day when I don’t understand the pressures of this job,” said the 46-year-old Smith, who left the prestigious D.C. law firm Patton Boggs to assume his latest post. “But then you stack them up against my grandfather [and] everything pales. There were days when he was thinking: ‘How am I going to feed my 14 kids? Are we getting a fair deal from the land owner? How are my children going to get out?’ Now, that’s pressure.”
And so, cloaked in the strength of such tough-mindedness, Smith’s soldiers on in a battle many hoped would never come to this point. After nearly three months, NFL players remain locked out of all team facilities and locked into a high-stakes, winner-take-all staredown with owners that shows no real signs of abating. Beyond the NFL season itself, at issue is the allocation and distribution of more than $8 billion in annual league-wide revenue.
“We made the decision to fight for who we are,” said Smith. “I know this is a multi-billion dollar industry but nobody gets strong without fighting. Nobody just negotiates their way to strength… you have to be willing to take action. Athletes are the same as everyone else — if you want to be treated fairly you have to be willing to stand up for yourself. It’s vastly different from something as simple as ‘just shut up and play’. To effect change you have to be willing to be the agent of change.”
Over the long haul Smith has a plan for the game away from the game never before seen in the league’s 91-year history. Greater concern about players long-term health and better retirement benefits are part of Smith’s master plan. At his urging players made the game-changing decision to decertify their union, thus giving them the option of airing their grievances in court and paving the way for individual players to file antitrust suits against the league. To date ,NFL heavyweights Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady have all attached their names to the suit as a show of support for Smith and his leadership.
(AJC) — A revised plan for reforming the city of Atlanta’s troubled pension system emerged from a city council committee on Wednesday, gaining approval of both the panel and Mayor Kasim Reed’s top aide. It also puts new employees into a defined contribution. Under the new plan, the 1 percent multiplier is less than it had been in past years, but the city will also pay at least two percent of the employee’s compensation into the defined contribution plan annually. Future employees will enter into a Social Security retirement program as well, but that is off the table for current workers. “We do believe this is a reasonable compromise between what some councilmembers and the employee groups want and the goals we set 18 months ago,” said Peter Aman, the city’s chief operating officer.
(AJC) — In his most direct and blistering appeal yet, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed warned the City Council that if it did not agree on changes to the city’s pension system immediately, it would have to answer to angry voters when services are cut and city workers are laid off. A clearly agitated Reed said he has grown tired of waiting on the council to make a decision on the measures he has proposed to reduce the city’s $1.5 billion unfunded pension liability. He is also frustrated that the council is considering pushing a decision on changes back to Sept. 30. He prefers a June 30 deadline, which would coincide with passing the city budget. “Enough is enough. It would be a huge mistake not to deal with pension reform right now, before June 30,” Reed said Wednesday afternoon at a hastily called news conference. “The council needs to vote up or down so we can end this and not end up firing people. Critical services are now being placed at risk.”
(New York Times) — When an arbitrator ruled this month that Detroit could reduce the pensions being earned by its police sergeants and lieutenants, it put the struggling city at the forefront of a growing national debate over whether the pensions of current public workers can or should be reduced. Conventional wisdom and the laws and constitutions of many states have long held that the pensions being earned by current government workers are untouchable. But as the fiscal crisis has lingered, officials in strapped states from California to Illinois have begun to take a second look, to see whether there might be loopholes allowing them to cut the pension benefits of current employees. Now the move in Detroit — made possible, lawyers said, because Michigan’s constitutional protections are weaker — could spur other places to try to follow suit. “These things do tend to be herd-oriented,” said Sylvester J. Schieber, an economist and consultant who studies pensions. The mayors of some hard-hit cities have said that the high costs of pensions have forced them to lay off workers: Oakland, Calif., laid off one-tenth of its police force last year after failing to win concessions on pension costs.
(AJC) — Atlanta fire fighters turned up the heat on pension reform by bringing in a team of financial advisors and consultants who said Wednesday the proposed changes are “illegal, unjust and bad policy.” Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed has proposed ending defined pensions for city workers. Atlanta pays about 20 percent of its annual budget – or $125 million — to cover pension benefits. The city has $1.5 billion in promised benefits it has yet to cover, and Reed says a reform plan would keep that from figure from growing. Firefighters say the city is reneging on a promise, and they asked the city Wednesday to levy new taxes on commuters to keep the existing pension system. “We are here in good faith, asking the city council to follow through on their word,” said Jim Daws, president of the Atlanta chapter of the International Association of Fire Fighters.
(AJC) — Facing a skeptical group of senior police officers scared about changes in their pension plans, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed told them that they didn’t have to trust him, but should rather look at his track record. “You earn trust over time, but who has spent more money on police than I have,” Reed said later. “I am not asking them to trust me. I am asking them to judge me by what I do.” Reed and city COO Peter Aman held a closed door meeting Thursday afternoon with police officials to discuss pension changes, which may be less than three months from becoming a reality. At times, said some who were inside, the mood grew tense. “There were a lot of emotions,” said Ken Allen, president of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers. “There are a lot of officers whose future and livelihoods are in the cross hairs.” The city is currently considering two options that would reduce Atlanta’s annual pension costs, which take up 20 percent of the city budget.