Headline Animator

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Protecting your Retirement

I have been to several conventions, meetings, seminars, and conferences in the past year or two. I have learned a lot of information from the firefighters who have been protecting our benefits in the past. We have retired firefighters still lobbying for firefighters across Virginia. At the VPFF Educational Seminar we began the legislative process for next year. Several bills we pushed last year never made it to a vote and will be re-emerging next year.

Today, I was able to learn from Bruce Roemmelt, a retired Prince William County Firefighter. Bruce has been involved in politics for a long time. He has lobbied for firefighters benefits for many years in Richmond.

One big issue facing firefighters is protecting our Pensions. Yeah I know, some of you might say "“I have 20 more years until I retire, why should I care about that stuff." The answer is that right now while you are not caring, your pension might be in jeopardy. If you have ever cared about anything relating to your job, this needs to be it. Sure, pay is an important issue, but I want to be able to walk away at a reasonable age and enjoy my retirement.

Across the United States, localities are trying to change the Pension Plans from a Defined Benefit system to a Defined Contribution system. This change is not new, rather it is a trick that Local and State Governments learned from Companies like IBM and Hewlett Packard. A defined benefit, or traditional retirement plan, offers a guaranteed benefit after required number of years of service. A defined contribution plan, which is often a 401(k) plan, requires employees to contribute a defined amount and bear the entire risk of opportunity of investment results (employees will not have a guaranteed benefit).

The reason why these Pensions are in trouble goes back to investment strategies in the late 1990's. When the stock market was doing well many States and Localities decided to capitalize. Pension funds were invested in the stock market and flourished for a couple of years. However, when the stock market tanked nothing was done about supplementing the funding and the Pension funds declined.

New Jersey'’s Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS), equivalent to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS), floated $2.8 billion in 30-year bonds in 1997. This was a great investment for a couple of years until the stock turned. Now the fund is playing catch up and faces $10 billion in payments on the principal and interest.

I hear guys say "“Let'’s get the multiplier increased"”. I agree. However, I am wondering how much can get done by talking about it. We need to begin with making sure our pension fund is funded properly.

I will offer more information soon. If you have any questions let me know.


Anonymous said...

you mean the city is not looking out for my best interest?

Anonymous said...

Did you see the wsls 10 tonight talking to big Red? They hired a guy to put on the art festival (a 4 day event) and they are going to pay him $67,000.00 a year to over see this!WOW we put or lives on the line every day for this city and we cant even get a desent raise, and our health care is going through the roof and i here the police are geting ready to get pay for performance soon. But the firefighters set around crying all day and fighting each other! What a joke we ALL have become!!!

Anonymous said...

we don't hire enough to fill all of the vacancies in the fire houses, but we will have an excellent art party. Who needs ffs when you can have a art party planner?

Chef K said...

its the cooks only retirement plan

Anonymous said...

Well get up off your butts and call our leaders of our local and get educated on the subject and be ready when it is time to go to admin. with a solution instead of sitting around and complaining all the D@#m Time... be more Pro-Active instead of same ol' Re-Active..Go Get some spine.

Anonymous said...

When will our local ever go to admin or city council? They are too busy travelling the country and the state to worry about our problems here.

Anonymous said...

Get a Spine? What a dumb ass! What do we pay our union officers for? Hell they just got a raise. They need to get off their asses! We could put 200 members at the union hall next month but it will not mean a thing if our union officers dont step up and be leaders!!! ENOUGH SAID ASSHOLE!

FireFleitz said...

I guess I will see you at the next pay and benefits committee meeting.

Thanks for stepping up and offering to help.

I will just need your name to put you on the list.

Anonymous said...

Good come back Rhett only problem is that the pay and benefits commitee hasn't meet in over 8 months, and a few months ago you had a new sign up for the committee and still.... No meeting. Why don't you shut your mouth and all your criticizing of your fellow firefighters and step up to the plate as a paid officer of the union. Your quick to tell someone else to do something why don't you do something big mouth.

FireFleitz said...

You have a good point about the committee not meeting. You are exactly right. I would say it might be longer, however you might know better. The "criticizing" as you term it is only to get more people involved. I see that guys like yourself make comments like you do. Obviously you want people to get involved. That is all I am trying to do. I would rather take the numbers we get at Union meetings and educate them. The problem is that most of them are already involved to some degree. Yes I am a paid officer of the Union. I think you might want to read my job description though. I believe I do my job the best as I can. Your comments are inflammatory, and that takes away from the effect you are soliciting. I find it interesting that you are very quick to call me out, yet you do not know what I do.

If you want to know what keeps me going, I will tell you. The fact that if you take away all the Secretary/Treasurer stuff (the stuff you pay me for), I still run circles around most.

I hope to see you at the committee meeting. Which by the way, as I am out of town right now with my family, I am working on getting the members educated who are on each committee. Hopefully we can straighten this out and get the committees working on the issues.

Anonymous said...

Your method of trying to get people to come to union meetings is quite interesting. Your tone and " I'm better than you" attitude could cause a problem with motivating members to come to meetings. You hit the nail on the head and still had to toot your own horn in your reply. When the commitees are meeting then you can express your concern and try to inform other people of the commitees and what difference they will make. But when the commitee you are refering to hasn't meet in, as you agree, over 8 months then what point are you trying to get across to people. Your rallying troops to a bridge that doesn't exist. And by the way I know what your job is as sec./treas. But by the way you are trying to jump start a rise in union attendence and activity, by acting like you are taking on more responsiblity. DON'T. You are trying to get members to jump start the officers, when it should be the other way around. And I know your come back will once again toot your own horn of how great you are at your job and blah, blah, blah.... This union is at a low point, my question to you is, What is this unions' officers going to do about it?

FireFleitz said...

Good response. However, I was not tooting my own horn.

We are coming up with a plan. We are trying to fill the committee seats. I just hope most of the others think like you and agree that we need committees and participation.

Anonymous said...

Call me an a#$hole if you want.. but the raise that they got was not enough.You a Little man talking a lot of Sh#t..with no solution to the problem or willingness to get out and help!!!!
What Scared of Admin. or like I said before NO SPINE!!!!! If you reply back just know that I am right and you are a member of this local thats all bark and no bite..

Anonymous said...

What are you talking about, it's hard to understand who your talking about. You say the union officers are under paid and their afraid of admin and they are all bark and no bite. I guess hooked on phonics didn't work for you.

Anonymous said...

talk about hooked on phonics re-read what you are the reply i needed.

FireFleitz said...

As always, I enjoy the comments. I have to admit, I am a little lost about the past few. But I don't need it explained, I know that most of us know the problems. The problem is with the solution. Some think that the leaders need to correct everything down to filing grievances for members. Others think that the leaders need some more members to step up to the plate and at least come to the meetings in order to get people involved and motivate them. No matter which side of the fence you are sitting on it does not matter to me. As long as you are sitting in one of the yards. We have too many members who don't have a clue about anything.

All I ask is that we are cordial in our conversations/comments. You aren't going to hurt my feelings, trust me. It just doesn't look professional if we are cussing and calling people names. I am not necesarrily talking about the comments on this post. I do not want to have to start moderating the comments.

Thanks for all of the comments and I hope help you guys with these issues.

By the way, the Pension issues I posted about are not necessarily happening here in Roanoke. These are potential problems we might be faced with in the future.

God Bless

Anonymous said...

Rhett what members are you taliking about> You say you are here to educate us? Hell alot of US have been paying union dues long before you ever come around!!! You talk about members comeing to union meetings to get involved,But then we find out you have not had a committie meeting then more then 8 months. You ever hear of lead by example? Maybe you should worry more about your union duties then a web page or a book cause they will never put more money in our pockets or make this job here in ROANOKE more safe!!!

FireFleitz said...

I am not sure what keeps me coming back to your comments. I guess, as much as I say, you will still think that it is Rodney and my job to do everything in the Union. I would like to see where you find this info. About the committee, there has not been a meeting for THAT committee in that long. The MDA committee has met for 4 years now, that I know of, and I was there. I was not the Secretary or the President. I was a Union member and a committee member. I just do not understand how you think that Rodney and I are the committees. Do you think that Schaitberger or Moeller are in charge of each committee on the IAFF and VPFF (respectfully). No they are not. It is the Presidents job to "He shall be a member ex-officio of all committees" and I am the one who takes care of any outgoing/incoming communication as well as providing answers as to what the committees are able to spend.

That being said, the committees are supposed to be comprised of the members. I do not know what is so hard to understand about this.

As far as my Union duties, I perform them to the best of my ability. As far as the web page, that is not part of my duties as the Sec/Tres. Nor the book.

If you say you have been here since way before I came around, good for you. You are the one who should be heading up these committees. You should be teaching the young people, including myself.

Let me ask you what you have done for the Union?

I would list the things I have done, but I don't want to toot my own horn. As for you, you are allowed to go ahead an list your accomplishments, anonymously of course. I will not hold that as tooting your own horn. I just want to learn.