12/20/18

The dust has started to settle in the City of Miami as we come to a close of 2018.  The IAFF Local 587 Health Insurance Trust is about ready to take over the insurance coverage for active employees and those retirees who stayed with the city plan despite the high cost of premiums.

Contract negotiaitons are over forhe next 2-3 years and the city continues to grow and build out.The active employees are enjoying some nice backpay checks and the number crunchers are still working on the settlement amounts for the those who have retired from the City of Miami Fire Department.  These settlement checks should be coming sometime after the new year.

The retiree lawsuit research has been put on hold as we could never get the attorneys to file suit against the city for their transfer of millions of dollars of health trust dollars to the General Fund and for charging high prices to retirees.

Not much more happening due to the Holidays.  Stay safe this holiday season and have a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

9/15/18

Follow the link below to see the summary of 2 contracts and the financial urgency lawsuit settlement.

https://www.dbpfmiami.org/images/shared/Public%20Documents/2018CBALawsuitsum.pdf

The details of the health insurance are not attached as I have no information other than the funding level will be starting at 18 million dollars a year.  As the details become clearer I will let you know what they are. However, from talking to the local officers the general concept is to start the plan in January 2019.  All retirees currently in the city plan will be covered (not sure if it is optional yet) and the insurance will be put out to bid to major carriers such as Cigna, Blue Cross or United. I am not sure if the beneift levels will stay the same, improve or be decreased. The money will be held in a Trust run by a board of fire fighters (and hopefully will have a retiree on it) so it cannot be used for anything but insurance. That is a big improvement from the city’s practice of moving the money into the General Fund when they have a good year.

I am optimistic that that the Local will run the plan better than the city.  However, I am concerned about the timing of the  roll out of the plan, funding in the long run, doctor match up to current plan, benefit structure of the new plan, and those retirees who are not currently in the city’s plan.

As far as back pay, it appears that the people on payroll the first year of the reduced benefits will have 5.2 million dollars dedicated to backpay.  That 5.2 million will be paid on a formula that pays you back on a pro rata basis of how much was taken from you compared to the total amount taken.  After that initial payment, several payments of 2.5 million will be made covering from 2011 to 2016.  More details to follow.

8-29-18

As mentioned in the 8-14-18 update, the FIPO Board and the City were in dispute on whether or not benefits should be paid out to the 140 some retirees who had their pensions’ reduced under the financial urgency.  The FIPO Board had restored those benefits after the Supreme Court ruled that the city’s moves were not legal.  As reported two weeks ago the parties were trying to work out a deal to keep the benefits at the higher level until the City and the Unions could come to an agreement.   Today that “standstill” agreement has been signed and you can follow this link to view it:  https://www.dbpfmiami.org/images/shared/Public%20Documents/standstillagrmt.pdf

The agreement allows the benefits fo continue for now until either the City or the Unions declare an impasse in their larger settlement negotiations.   However, if an impasse is declared by either side the FIPO Board must stop the restored benefit payments until a court orders the payments or an agreement is reached.

8-14-18

It has been a long time since I have updated this site but that does not mean that things have not happened.  In fact, there have been several setbacks in the financial urgency case regarding the timely restoration of benefits for those 133 people who had their pensions reduced because of the city’s illegal actions.  As outlined in the 3-21-18 update, the city lost an appeal in the Dade County Courts regarding their attempt to get an injunction on the Pension Board to keep the Pension Board from restoring lost benefits.  The city then appealed that loss to the 3rd District Court of Appeals with their major argument that the case has not been finalized yet.  The 3rd DCA sided with the city and overturned the Dade Court decision and sent it back down to the Dade County Courts.  The local court then issued an injunction on the Pension Board from paying out those restored benefits.  You can read that decision by following the link.

https://www.dbpfmiami.org/?injunction

The Pension Board appealed but was denied a rehearing before the courts.  The Board has asked for the Florida Supreme Court to review the 3rd DCA’s decision to place an injunction on the Board from paying benefits that the Florida Supreme Court said must be restored.   However, at this point the Board is in the process of notifying individuals affected that their benefits will be reduced again.

In the meantime, the unions are negotiating with the city to try to get the benefit reduction stopped as part of the overall negotiations to settle out the financial urgency lawsuit and the contract negotiations.  Hopefully the parties can come to an agreement to resolve this issue prior to benefits being reduced.

When I last updated you on the Insurance Investigation we had filed a law suit against the city over public records.  Shortly after that the city produced the records that were requested and the lawsuit was dropped.  The attorney, actuary and the economist have been going over those records and I expect to see a summary on what our plan of action will be in the upcoming month.

The retiree reunion will be held at the Carolina Hotel located on 2601 Georgia Highway in Franklin, North Carolina starting Thursday, September 20th.  The events kick off that day with several events such as a golf outing, a casino trip, mountain biking and a motorcycle ride.  Or of course you can just chill around the motel and catch up with friends.  The actual reunion will be on Friday at the Carolina Hotel starting at 11AM. There will be plenty of food and drinks and the party will continue into the night with a pizza party and music starting at 6:30 PM until the last person standing.  On Saturday there will be a continental breakfast served from 8-10 AM at the Otto Fire Hall located on Firehouse Road off US 441.

If you have never been before you really should try to make it – there are a lot of laughs and story telling and it is great to catch up with old friends.  If you need more information contact Teri Sadler at 305-318-1171

The union and city continue to meet to try to settle out the contract that expired in 2016 and to resolve the financial urgency case.  I have talked to President Delgado and he has stated they are making decent progress and he hopes to have a contract and settlement soon.

Mark your calendars!  The Union Picnic will be October 28th this year!  Always a great time!

4-4-18

After months of asking the City of Miami for documents relating to their Self Insured Health Insurance Program and not receiving the documents requested the DBPF filed a public records lawsuit today.  The lawsuit was filed in order to try to get the courts to force the city to provide the documents we need to continue our investigation and to possibly file a lawsuit on behalf of retirees.  Although it may take some time to process the lawsuit, it was decided it was better to be much more aggressive with the city in order to stop them from stonewalling our requests.

The lawsuit and the exhibits are available for viewing by following the link below.

https://www.dbpfmiami.org/images/shared/Public%20Documents/Complaint.pdf

Hopefully, the courts will rule in our favor and we can continue on with our investigation.

3-21-18

Another month – another victory for the employees!  Follow the link below to read the latest decision by PERC that denies another motion by the city to appeal PERC’s previous decisions.  My suggestion is to scroll to page 6 and read the last couple of paragraphs to see the actual decision.  The previous pages are full of history and legal arguments.

https://www.dbpfmiami.org/?032118perciaff

The city and the unions continue to negotiate a settlement and if you read the yearly retiree letter that the local puts out you will have a good understanding of what Local 587 President Freddy Delgado hopes to accomplish in these talks.  Of course if the city continues to follow the outside union busting attorneys they will continue to file motions and lawsuits to try to delay any type of settlement.

It is in the best interest of the city, current employees and retirees for all parties to come to an agreement that will keep the city financially solvent but to restore pay and benefits that were illegally stolen from the employees of the City of Miami.  Hopefully with the new mayor and city manager, they will sharpen their pencils and offer up a reasonable settlement fund.

I will keep you informed.

Gabe

2-14-18

In another win for the employees of the City of Miami, and in this case the IAFF, PERC has ruled that the city did not act properly when they imposed new contract terms on the IAFF employees during the “financial urgency”.  They have ordered all of the illegal impositions reversed and to make the employees whole.  Which means a complete and total victory for the unions!  The only way it would have been better is if they had to pay for the Local’s attorney fees.  That request was denied.

The decision can be found by following this link  https://www.dbpfmiami.org/?iaffpercwin

That is the good news.  So you know there has to be some bad news to follow.  The bad news is that between the FOP victory and the IAFF victory the city now owes hundreds of millions of dollars in back wages, pension costs, and insurance benefits.  So much that it will be impossible for them to pay the bill with cash on hand.  At the same time the unions are in negotiations for a contract.  This puts both parties in a position that they should try to negotiate a settlement.

With a new mayor and commissioner on board it is my hopes that they will recognize the that the law is on our side and they should come to the table with a reasonable offer of settlement.  Or at least come to the table and listen to offers of settlements from the unions.  However, the outside union busting attorneys continue to say they have a plan to victory.  That plan just maybe bankruptcy.

Now is the time for cooler heads to prevail on both sides and expectations of what employees and retirees should be tempered by the fact that the victory was so total that it has but the city in a dangerous financial position.  But as they say, “in crisis there is opportunity” and I expect our Local President Freddy Delgado will be reasonable but tough in his negotiations with the city.

Stay tuned for other updates!

1-10-18

In another setback for the City, the court denied the request by the City to stop FIPO from paying the proper pension for members who had their pension’s cut due to the City’s illegal actions during the so called “financial urgency”.  This is just one of the latest setbacks the city has suffered in the courts.

FIPO plans on paying the proper amount to those who were directly effected by the changes in the plan that directly cut their pensions.  These 130 some retirees will see their pension checks go up to the proper amount in the January retirement check.

This does not effect the back pay and the many other benefits that the city cut.

Stay tuned!

https://www.dbpfmiami.org/images/shared/Public%20Documents/Motion%20to%20Abade%20Injunction.pdf

1-2-18

https://www.dbpfmiami.org/images/shared/Documents%20and%20Forms/1-2-18%20Injunction%20Notice%20For%20Web%20FIPO.doc

By following the link above you will see a synopsis of a court hearing to hear the City of Miami’s argument to put an injunction on the FIPO’s board move to pay members that were hurt by the City’s illegal cuts to employee benefits in the so called “financial urgency”.  The FIPO board, based on their attorney’s advise, voted to start paying retired members what they should have received if the City had not imposed new restrictive pension rules.

The bottom line is that the court heard the arguments from both sides and will make a ruling shortly.  Please read the synopsis above for more information.

12-16-17

The FIPO pension board approved the 2018 COLA table.  The table stays the same as it has been for the several years.  However, since anyone receiving a COLA now will have one more year of completed retirement you will see an increase of approximately 5%.  The link to the table is below

https://www.dbpfmiami.org/images/shared/Documents%20and%20Forms/2015COLATable.xls

The attorneys continue to try to find another legal evidence to file suit against the city for the premiums charged to the retirees.  It has been an extremely frustrating process but we continue to have hope that a lawsuit will be filed on behalf of the retirees about the excess charges to retirees.

I have no further information on Financial Urgency case but I hope to have some soon.

The city elections went well and the Local was successful with their chosen candidates.  Hopefully that will translate into a resolution of the financial urgency case and the insurance issue.

11/10/17

The following links and letter is from the Miami Fire Department offering a Life Scan physical.  Please read the letter from Capt. Niorge and follow the links to the forms if you are interested in having a Life Scan physical for you or your family.

https://www.dbpfmiami.org/?17lspacket

https://www.dbpfmiami.org/?17lsmale

https://www.dbpfmiami.org/?17lsfemale

Good morning,

This year’s Life-Scan Physical for Family and Friends will take place the week of November 27 – December 1, 2017. Should you be interested in participating, and/or having a family member(s) or friend(s) take advantage of this comprehensive exam, please call Life-Scan directly at 1-727-258-4818 to schedule.

The cost for the physical will be out of pocket, and is not covered by Cigna or any other insurance carrier. The cost is $370.00, and payment will be due on the actual day your physical is scheduled. Please verify with Life-Scan directly as to the payment options they accept. For those eligible, please contact your retiree health trust administrator to ensure this exam is a compensable health item. As slots are limited, they will be filled on a first come basis.

Attached above are the gender specific blood draw prescriptions that are to be printed and taken to your nearest Lab. Corp. location for the blood collection prior to the physical. Also, the patient packet (also attached above), will need to be completed and brought to the physical. The actual physical will be a three part process, an ultrasound portion, an evaluation by an exercise consultant, and a thorough head to toe assessment. At the end, you will have an exit interview where all results are reviewed and explained by a Nurse Practitioner.

Thank you,

Captain N. Aragon

Executive Officer to the Fire Chief

Management Services Division

City of Miami Dept. of Fire-Rescue

1151 NW 7St. Miami, FL 33136

305-416-5450 (Ph.)

305-926-2929 (Cell)

305-416-5444 (Fax)

Email: naragon@miamigov.com

https://www.dbpfmiami.org/?17lspacket

https://www.dbpfmiami.org/?17lsmale

https://www.dbpfmiami.org/?17lsfemale

10-24-17

Here is a link to a letter I sent to the City Manager and the IAFF Union President on behalf of this organization.

https://www.dbpfmiami.org/?ltriaffandmngr102417

Please share this news with those that are not members and ask them to join the fight to keep our pension and other benefits safe!

10-18-17

There is some very exciting news from PERC.  They have ruled that the  city must return to status qou in the FOP case and pay full back pay and return pension benefits.  The link below is a letter sent by the Pension Board attorney to the Trustees of the FIPO board explaining the case.

https://www.dbpfmiami.org/?klausnrtobd101717

The actual decision is reached by following this link.

https://www.dbpfmiami.org/images/shared/Public%20Documents/PERCfinal101817.pdf

It is to soon to tell how this effects the firefighters case but the general opinion is that it will go the same way.  That is an assumption -so do not take it to the bank!  It will take a little while for the ramifications of the decision to become clear but it is great news for the  employees who lost benefits and back pay by the city’s attempt to skirt the labor laws of Florida.

9-26-17

Hey everyone,

I hope everyone survived Hurricane Irma with a minimum of damage and that your recovery efforts go smoothly.  Just prior to the Hurricane approaching Florida, the Defined Benefit Retirement Protection Fund (DBPF) had its Annual Meeting.  Several important items occurred at that meeting that I wanted to let you know about.

At that meeting, we held an election for the principal officer spot that Julie Padelford Jansen had been occupying.  Julie, although still very interested in serving, had moved away from Florida and decided it was best not to run again. Principal Officer spots must be filled by current executive board members and Jeff Fitzgerald volunteered to step up and fill the spot.  Being no other nominees Jeff was elected by acclamation.  Jeff’s moving up left a vacancy on the executive board that needed to be filled.

In addition, Bob Alexander, an original member of the Executive Board also decided to step down which then left a second vacancy.  Luckily, we had two capable members who were interested in serving and I am happy to say that Randi Lewis and Richard Strosnider were elected to fill the two vacancies. So the current board of the DBPF is as follows:

Principal Officers:  Tom Gabriel, Dan Givens and Jeff Fitzgerald

Executive Board Members: Tom Flores, Ray Penland, Willie Allen, Shorty Bryson, Joe Burns, Barry Duralia, Lou Kickasola,  Robert Suarez, Randi Lewis, and Richard Strosnider

President Emeritus: Don Teems

I want to thank Julie and Bob for all there help over the past few years! You will be missed.  Both will continue to have a voice and input in this organization going forward.

Another important item that happened at the Annual Meeting is that the Executive Board was notified that the Principal Officers had to replace our previous attorney in our Insurance investigation with Ron Cohen due to lack of communication and progress.   The previous attorney had dragged his feet since the beginning and has never given the case its proper attention.  This led to a lot of frustration amongst the Principals to the point of taking the drastic step of switching attorneys in the middle of a case.

A lot of you may be familiar with Ron Cohen’s work as he was often in front of the Civil Service Board representing the FOP and the AFSCME unions.  Unfortunately, the changing of the attorneys will cause further delay in the progress of this case as it will take some time for Ron and his team to get up to speed.

On another note, the Local continues to negotiate to try to finalize a contract.  President Freddy Delgado has continued to press the city to get back the members the pay and benefits that they lost in the financial urgency.  One of the main sticking points continues to be the cap on the pension as that is one of the most expensive items that is being discussed.  Another important item for retirees during this negotiation is issue of insurance.  The Local has proposed to move away from the City’s insurance and create their own trust or to move over to a trust that is currently run by the Miami Beach, Hialeah, and Coral Gables fire fighters.  Freddy seems to think the city will agree to this in the long run and he believes a similar insurance plan can be offered at a lower premium.  Something the retirees have agreed with for years.  One of the many sticking points on this issue is which retirees will the local allow to go over to this new plan.  The local is currently planning on allowing all current members of the /City’s insurance plan to go with them.  However those that have left the city’s plan prior may not be able to move over.  Freddy is exploring, as part of the Financial Urgency Case, allowing those members who left after the city imposed the new insurance benefits and premiums.

I have met with Freddy to discuss this issue and he understands that it is the retirees feeling that all retirees should be given a chance to join.  Unfortunately, there is no way to put a cost on what those retirees would cost the plan as there is no financial claims data on those who were not part of the city’s plan and therefore the consultant that the union has hired has said it is not feasible.

The Financial urgency case continues to move forward with the city continuing to ignore the fact they are losing the case.  That is evident in the fact that the majority of the commissioners backed Mayor Regalado’s plan to sell $400 million of bonds for sea wall upgrades while making no plans on paying back the hundreds of millions of dollars they stole from employees.    It is my belief that Regalado, the current Mayor, does not want to settle anything while he is in office since he was a big part of imposing the financial urgency in the first place.  His goal is to “run out the clock” on his term which ends in November of 2017 and leave any financial settlement to the next mayor.  That new mayor will probably be Francis Suarez, the son of Xavier Suarez.  Francis has come a long way since first getting elected and the local has a great relationship with him.  Hopefully that relationship can be translated to a fair settlement deal with all involved in the financial urgency case.