Circuit Court Judge Jackie Fulford ruled today (March 6, 2012) in favor of the Florida Education Association in its lawsuit on public employees’ mandatory pension “contribution” and reminded Gov. Rick Scott and the extremists in charge of the Legislature that a promise is a promise.
FEA President Andy Ford hailed the decision as a significant victory for public employees, but as importantly, for the rule of law in our society. “The judge’s ruling confirms that the Florida Constitution requires the state to live up to its promises, including those made to the public workers by the state itself,” Ford said.
Florida law has provided for nearly four decades that pension rights are contractual rights that may not be ignored or abridged. If the Legislature determines that changes to the pension system are desirable, it must do so prospectively for employees who come to work after a change in the law. Employees should not dedicate their livelihoods to public service with a contractual expectation of retirement benefits only to have that expectation wrongly taken from them.
Ron Meyer, the lead attorney in bringing the challenge, argued to the court that there were three separate constitutional provisions that prohibit the state from taking away employees’ right to a non-contributory retirement system containing a cost-of-living provision. The court found that stripping workers of the contractually provided benefits constitutes an unlawful impairment of the obligations of contract, an action which is prohibited by the Constitution.
“We are pleased by today’s decision. It once again will stop the Florida Legislature from overstepping its authority by ignoring the state’s constitution,” Ford said. “We urge the governor and leaders in the Legislature to embrace this decision and abide by the judge’s ruling. If they decide to prolong this case with an appeal, FEA is prepared to continue fighting for the rights of middle-class families who make our state a better place.”
ALTERNATIVE INSURANCE OPTIONS FOR UTD MEMBERS ONLY
As a UTD member, you and your family are eligible for alternative dependent coverage through Coventry Health Care and dental/vision coverage through Solstice. Go to http://www.utd.org/information/oepn-enrollment-2012 for more information on coverage options and how to enroll.
Don’t forget that your union dues are 100% deductible! Don’t miss the opportunity for an extra deduction. If you do not individually itemize your work-related purchases, you can claim the $250 educator deduction as well.
And just a side bar…if you are incredibly careless, like me, and lost your W2 form, you can request a duplicate through the Employee Portal… 🙂
Take advantage of the opportunity to score some benefits available only to UTD members! Hopefully some of you were able to meet with the American Fidelity representative when he was at our school yesterday; if not, check out the link. Open enrollment for these benefits is going on now, so don’t miss your chance!
Don’t forget you can also get discounts on car insurance through Liberty Mutual and California Casualty. Check out the member benefits page on www.utd.org for phone numbers and websites!
TICKETS AT WORK
Did you know that as a UTD member, you qualify for discounts on tickets to shows, concerts, theme parks, sports games, etc.? If you haven’t taken advantage of them yet, now is the time!!! You will need the UTD code, so please contact me by phone or e-mail if you do not have it. And check out the site to see what great discounts you can get! I got 50% off to see Cirque du Soleil last year…there are really some fabulous deals!