It’s Always a Matter of “Fairness”
The title of this post refers to the words of Paul Saccoccia, a national rep for the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, who believes that disabled policemen and firefighters in the state pension system should receive pension contributions from their towns when the state doesn’t give them the full amount that they want:
Lawyers for the city [of Cranston] and the firefighters’ union say the request stems from the fact that the employees’ disabilities — which officials would not disclose — have been verified by doctors but were not recognized by the state Retirement Board because they developed over time rather than stemming from one event or injury.
Yet, state law says that a police officer or firefighter who retires because of on-the-job injuries shall receive not less than two-thirds of their pay at the time of retirement — the amount the employees sought through the state system.
The situation has left all three employees on the city payroll, at 100-percent pay.
And union leaders say the only way to get them off the city payroll is to have the City Council adopt two ordinances that would allow the city to make up the difference between the disability pensions the state will grant and the work-related disability pensions the employees want.
Thus is Rhode Island pulled by the heartstrings (purse strings, for some) toward policies that give privileged classes multiple opportunities for benefits. And thus do the unions abuse the communities that their members serve: Somehow (note the passive voice) the three employees have been “left” on the city payroll and cannot be “gotten off” unless the law were to be changed to give them what they want.
Translating into active voice, that means that the employees refuse to officially retire, and the unions have structured contracts such that the city can neither force them out nor fill the positions that they are not currently performing. I’d suggest that, if it isn’t a matter of critical public safety for those positions to be filled — that is, if it isn’t utterly unconscionable for the union to use their vacancy as a bargaining chip — then they really don’t need to be filled, anyway.
(And that’s not an excuse to puff up the overtime salaries of other employees.)