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New contract with firefighters calls for hefty hike in pension contributions

Original post made on Aug 22, 2012

Firefighters in the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department have agreed to start paying 9% of their benefit costs starting next July, but that's still not adequate for critics seeking greater reforms to Pleasanton's employee pension obligations.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, August 22, 2012, 8:59 AM

Comments (9)

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Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Fire science tells us most fire 'fighters' are not necessary, and those that are should be making half what they currently are. When the tsunami hits, we won't need any fire 'fighters' at all because the tsunamic tides will put out all errant fires.


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Posted by To Jeb
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2012 at 6:34 pm

"The new contract, negotiated by City Manager Nelson Fialho and the Local 1974 of the International Association of Firefighters union, which covers LPFD's unionized employees, would cut the city's costs by more than $1 million when fully implemented."

How does that balance against the increased cost of both pensions and retiree medical? What are the net savings? My guess is the net savings is a negative number. I'm not knocking the concessions as much as I'm asking for a balanced representation of the current proposed contract.

Jeb, can you provide a true cost analysis of this contract? Does it really provide actual cost savings when ALL is considered? Did you know the compensation package for a first year FF exceeds 100K? Why are managers making well into six figures getting paid overtime? Last, but not least, has anyone looked into the issue of how overtime is paid? Work needs to be done on that issue if the city is ever to control overtime costs.


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Posted by This is ridiculous
a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 22, 2012 at 9:22 pm

A tiny step in the right direction but the fleecing of the taxpayers continues. Retirement benefits should not be available until 65 and the pension plans should be scrapped in exchange for 401k plans similar to private sector jobs. And 3% per year of service? Why should a public servant receive 100% of their salary for NOT working after just 33 years (in their mid-50s) of service? It should also be tied to base pay not overtime-inflated salaries during their final three years. Unbelievable that we've stood by while our elected officials and bureaucrats have bankrupted us.


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Posted by To Jeb
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2012 at 10:25 pm

"Firefighters in the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department have agreed to start paying 9% of their benefit costs starting next July, but that's still not adequate for critics seeking greater reforms to Pleasanton's employee pension obligations."

Jeb, they may be agreeing to pay the 9% (or an additional 7%) toward their OWN GENEROUS PENSION but what they have received over the past few years - during the great recession when most were making significant sacrifices AND city revenue was decreasing, is raises that completely cover that cost plus some extra wage increases. I'll put it this way; while the FD employees have agreed to pay their share of their pension contribution (7-9% depending on your time frame) they have received Cost Of Living Allowance (COLA) wage increases during the same period, during the great recession, 2007-2008-2009, of:

Captain: 7% +4%+4%, or a compounded 15.7%
Engineer: 5.5% +4%+4%, or a compounded 14.1%
Fire Fighter: 4%+4%+4%, or a compounded 12.5%

Putting those numbers into context - and they don't begin to capture the extent of all the wage increases and additional costs that aren't included in the above numbers, the headline claiming that, "New contract with firefighters calls for hefty hike in pension contributions" doesn't ring true. But there is more, much more…


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Posted by to Jeb
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2012 at 11:49 pm

You said, "Until recently, and for about 10 years, firefighters and other Pleasanton city employees contributed nothing toward their CalPERS pension program after the city agreed to cover all costs in lieu of lowered wage increase demands."

When did the "lowered wage increase demands" happen, if they ever did ever happen? I did some homework and can't find those lower wage demands even though I went back over 10 years (2001). What I did find is this:

According to the 2001-2006 MOU, employees received annual COLA raises on August 1st of the following years: 5% (2001), 5% ('02), 5% ('03), 5% ('04), 4% ('05), and 4% ('06). Those are just the cost of living wage increases and do not include step raises, promotional raises (which lead to more step raises), or other incentive pays that can be earned.

In addition to the wage increases, and this is a BIG ONE, in September of 2001 the city granted increased & retroactive retirement benefits from the 2@50 formula to 3@50. That action represents a HUGE unfunded liability to the benefit of the employees and the detriment of taxpayers.

Here are the 2007-08-09 wage increases:

Captain: 7% +4%+4%, or a compounded 15.7%
Engineer: 5.5% +4%+4%, or a compounded 14.1%
Fire Fighter: 4%+4%+4%, or a compounded 12.5%

It is difficult to accept the claim that any sacrifice on the part of the employees hasn't been recouped years ago. Five percent COLA's are offensive and unjustifiable but it is even more offensive when you understand that some employees were receiving 10 percent raises on top of that during the same time period. When you include the 50 percent increase in pensions, and make that increase retroactive to the employee's first day on the job, I'm not sure how you come to your conclusion. Maybe you can enlighten me?

Jeb:"Until recently, and for about 10 years, firefighters and other Pleasanton city employees contributed nothing toward their CalPERS pension program after the city agreed to cover all costs in lieu of lowered wage increase demands."

Your argument doesn't make sense. It needs less clouds and more sunshine.


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Posted by Lume
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Aug 23, 2012 at 9:55 am

Kay is a fraud. I remember her when she was on the board. She chronically misrepresented facts to support the venom she would spout about anyone/thing she hated. She has crawled back out of her hole to do it again, good lord.
Kay, you weren't reelected go away.
Having the employees takes pay cuts in a city that has a 25$ million reserve fund isn't ruining anything.
Doesn't the city also have a 10% operational reserve fund as well or is that the same as the 25$ mil.?
If anything I'd like to explore why the city is holding a reserve funds. Why are the city officials holding tax money in a feel-good fund (s)?


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Posted by Pensions not enough?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2012 at 10:30 am

Lume, spoken like a true union thug. You cannot come up with good arguments on the issue so you attack the people bring up the issues.

A message to voters, DO NOT VOTE FOR ANY CANDIDATE OR ISSUE THAT IS ENDORSED BY THE PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNIONS. Their goal is life is to keep all their "entitlements" and to get more. The union leadership consistently thumbs their noses at the taxpayers. They can continue to do so when they have the politicians in their back pockets. If you vote for an elected official or a proposition that is endorsed by the public employee unions, you are contributing to the problem.


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Posted by ?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 23, 2012 at 10:37 am

That's right Lume - don't debate the facts but instead attack the messenger.

Oh yeh, let's ignore financial prudence that most organizations follow and draw down our reserves to zero. Actually if you got what you wanted here, we'd be closer to a Stockton style bankruptcy and maybe closer to forcing true reform on employee contracts. Hey maybe you are on to a good thing here!

Fortunately there are more people around who have this quaint idea that the city should be run to the benefit of its citizens and not as a mechanism to maximize the benefits to its employees.


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Posted by GX
a resident of Foothill High School
on Aug 23, 2012 at 12:21 pm

GX is a registered user.

This new contract is inadequate.

- Fall 2011, City Council made public commitment to reduce $121M unfunded liability (AVA) by 10% within five years
- Since then, the unfunded liability has grown $16M (13%) to $137M
- Pleasanton's portion of the benefits of this new contract discreases cost by $10M over 10 years

NET - even over 10 years, this contract will not cover the one year increase in our unfunded liability just in this past year.

AND IT WILL GET WORSE - CalPERS poor returns, its change in returns assumptions, etc. will hit in November this year.

I do wish the Pleasanton Weekly would provide more complete coverage on this issue so citizens are not fooled by the positive spin/imcomplete information the City Publishes on contracts like this.

WE ARE STILL DIGGING THE HOLE DEEPER SO THAT CURRENT PUBLIC EMPLOYEES' MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR PENSIONS CAN REMAIN INTACT.


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