Phoenix Law Enforcement Association

Pension Update 11-01-2013

The following information has been provided by PLEA Treasurer/Chief Negotiator Will Buividas, who is also an elected member of the City of Phoenix Pension Board.  Keep in mind that this will be a drawn out process and people should not make any rash decisions based on emotions or speculation.

On October 31st, the City Council voted 5-4 to move forward with the sub-committee’s recommendations to, in their minds, end pension spiking. So where does this leave us?

It leaves us at the same place we were at last week, the week before, and the week before that! The Council can grandstand all they want, but their vote does nothing to immediately impact a single penny of your pension. Let me repeat, DO NOT go into DROP on Monday because of the Council vote. DO NOT retire on Monday because of the Council vote. Take a deep breath and relax! This is the first inning of a baseball game; a long baseball game!

So Will, if you are telling us not to panic, then what did the Council do yesterday?

For Officers, Sergeants, and Lieutenants, the Council directed City Management to address the “high three” compensation issues that surround vacation, sick, and uniform sells in upcoming negotiations. They directed all parties to attempt to work together and come up with a solution that will be acceptable for all sides. Will we be able to? Your guess is as good as mine! This issue has never been about the money, but about the personal political agenda of a minority of the City Council members and some people at the Arizona Republic. We will have to wait and see how willing the City will be to come up with a solution.

Will, in your emails you keep bringing up supervisors / management, why do you care about them?

I am elected to the Phoenix Police Pension Board by all sworn members of the Department, plus this is an issue of fairness. While I might not always agree with management, they deserve to be treated fairly in this process. I do not think anyone would support (I certainly don’t) Commanders having a lower total compensation then the employees they supervise. Since they are not covered under a MOU / MOA this could become a reality, which would not be fair or good for the organization.

Does the City Council have the authority to do this to public safety employees?

My opinion is that outside of negotiations, the Council does not. There are also issues with the Arizona State Constitution and the federal contract clause. Here are the parts of ARS 38-847 that deal with the Phoenix Police Pension Board’s statutory obligations. You can come to your own conclusion.

ARS 38-847:

A. The administration of the system and responsibility for making the provisions of the system effective for each employer are vested in a local board.

Local Board responsibilities:

D. 1. To decide all questions of eligibility and service credits, and determine the amount, manner and time of payment of any benefits under the system.

4. To request and receive from the employers and from members such information as is necessary for the proper administration of the system and action on claims for benefits and to forward such information to the fund manager.

10. To sue and be sued to effectuate the duties and responsibilities set forth in this article.

G. Any action by a majority vote of the members of a local board which is not inconsistent with the provisions of the system shall be final, conclusive and binding…

K. When making a ruling, determination or calculation, the local board shall be entitled to rely upon information furnished by the employer, the fund manager, independent legal counsel, or the actuary for the system.

O. The local board shall issue directions to the fund manager concerning all benefits which are to be paid from the employer’s account pursuant to the provisions of the fund. The local board shall keep on file, in such manner as it may deem convenient or proper, all reports from the fund manager and the actuary.

So please DO NOT make a decision that you might regret in the future. There are still more unknowns than knowns. If changes do occur in the future, you will have time to consult with your family and financial advisor before making any decisions. I would hate for any of you to make an emotional decision with limited information, which you may regret in the future!