MEA Arbitration Video – player.vimeo.com/video/96925667
Retiree Challenge to Prop C Supplemental COLA Upheld by Court
In the aftermath of defeating Prop B, Jeff Adachi’s attack on health and retirement benefits in 2011, city employee unions in San Francisco stepped up to develop a solution to the serious retirement fund issues brought on by the great recession and the collapse of the stock market. Our goal was to find a fair way to help the pension plan recover from the $3 billion loss it suffered, to protect and maintain services and programs, and to stop politicians from attacking public employee pensions to further their own careers. We insisted on a fact-based analysis and, as a result, negotiated Prop C – a pension ballot measure which was passed overwhelmingly by San Francisco voters in 2011.
The central tenet of Prop C was that everyone would make some contribution to ensure retirement sustainability – the employer, employees – young, old, active, retired, safety and non-safety. Prop C included higher contribution rates from employees when the City’s rates increased, with safety employees paying even more for their enhanced retirement program. Moderate benefit reductions were included for new employees hired after its passage.
The one sacrifice Prop C required from retirees was a higher trigger for the supplemental COLA. It asked that the supplemental COLA be linked to the overall financial health of the fund. This had no impact on retirees’ basic COLA which was, and remains, tied to CPI. The supplemental COLA was paid out to retirees in years where there were higher than expected investment returns. It was an acknowledgement that good times should benefit everyone.
As it turned out, however, the supplemental COLA triggered in a number of the years immediately following the Great Recession as a result of the market’s rebound. Market returns in 2010 and 2011 resulted in supplemental COLA payment obligations of approximately $290 million. Meanwhile, city employees were being laid off, taking unpaid furlough days and going without raises, and the required city contribution rates into SFERS were climbing to record levels. Yes the stock market was rebounding, but the pension fund was barely beginning to dig out from the huge hole caused by the Great Recession.
Earlier this month, the court reinstated the supplemental COLA benefit without the Prop C conditions for post 1996 retirees. The judge ruled that anyone retiring prior to 1996, did so not expecting to receive a supplemental COLA. Those who worked after it was in place, however, believed they would receive it and, therefore, had a vested right in the benefit.
Prop C has been praised around the country and viewed as a model for other public jurisdictions. Many Prop C provisions were unprecedented. Given this, we all understood that parts of Prop C might be subject to legal challenge.
Prop C has accomplished the goal by securing our pension benefits without jeopardizing city services, causing layoffs or preventing raises. Our pensions are no longer a political football, although the press occasionally forgets this history. We are in the last year of the city’s highest contribution rate and our highest match and we expect employee contributions to decrease in 2016-2017. The pension plan is now 94.3% funded on a market basis. Prop C was smart and unifying – everyone gave something to protect the greater good. We believed that eliminating the supplemental COLA in years when the pension fund was not fully funded was the intent of the voters when they created it, and a fair ask of retirees, particularly when balanced against what actives have sacrificed. The court decision did not share that view. The implications of this decision on actuarial projections and contribution levels are not yet fully understood but we will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves.
MEA Outreach Initiative – 25 New Members in First Month!
It takes the world’s best managers to run a world-class city!
The MEA Board of Directors is committed to expanding MEA’s membership base
and building its profile, influence and capacity in 2015. MEA launched this outreach effort in March and already 25 managers have become MEA Members as a result
You can be a part of this important effort!
The Gift Card Giveaway is Underway: Our first membership outreach meeting at City Hall was a great success, with current MEA Board members, Martha Knutzen, Jocelyn Quintos, and Crispin Hollings, describing how the organization has benefited them, and staff members Rebecca Rhine and Raquel Silva describing various MEA initiatives including our recent efforts to improve the MCCP B and C program. Everyone had a chance to ask specific questions about the benefits of MEA membership. By the end of our meeting, there were six new MEA members with one winning a $100 gift card.
Two more meetings (with drawings and lunch) are planned – Noon-1pm on Monday, April 27th at SFO and Noon-1pm on Friday, May 1st at 1 South Van Ness Room 6052. RSVP to email@example.com
Already an MEA Member: For every new member you bring into MEA, you will be entered into a drawing to win one of seven (7) gift cards worth $100 each. For the most new members signed up by a member during this period, a $250 gift card will be awarded
Become an MEA Member: If you join MEA between March 1 and June 15, you will be entered into a drawing to win one of three (3) $100 gift cards.
SUPPORT MEA: A strong and principled voice in your workplace
Rules: To receive credit for a new member, your name must appear on their application.
You must be present at the new member lunch to enter those drawings.
MEA Board Retreat: 2015 Agenda Includes Expanded Training
The Board held a mini-retreat on the evening of April 8th. The meeting gave us a chance to track our progress towards meeting the goals set out in our 2015-2017 Strategic Framework. We have made significant progress as noted below:
- Excellence in Representation: With our successful negotiation of a 3-year MOU with significant raises in pay, and a more transparent MCCP B&C program, we accomplished the core goals for this time period. Our staff continues to work on a daily basis representing individual managers and coordinating departmental meet and confers.
- Thought Leadership in Public Policy: While the staff currently represents our interests to elected officials and other policy decision makers, this year we plan to enhance our effectiveness in this area by hiring a consultant who will ensure we are aware of important local issues of concern to MEA so we can work proactively and strategically to bring our voice to the policy debate.
- Member Engagement and Development: We have reported on our 2015 membership outreach work above. We plan to make our membership outreach to new managers and other non-members an annual event.
- Capacity Building and Sustainability: Last year, we added a third full time staff member to our office, Camaguey Corvinelli, to oversee management training, assist members on a daily basis with information and provide key support during negotiations . We also updated our website to increase the effectiveness of our communication with members. This year, we plan to work on improving our technology to expand MEA’s administrative and communication capacity.
As always, there is plenty more we want to do. High on that list is developing training and other tools that assist managers in dealing with the increasing number of investigatory interviews they are subjected to. We will be creating a member committee to look at this in the near future.
Meet and Confer Update: MEA Bargaining Around the City
Although MEA generally bargains our major agreements every couple or few years, that isn’t the only time that issues are raised and negotiated between the employer and MEA. We receive dozens of requests to “Meet and Confer” (M&C) annually from agencies, departments and DHR that address issues as they arise and often involve time-sensitive initiatives or issues. A sample of current M&Cs underway:
- Juvenile Probation: Proposed policy to implement and comply with the Department of Justice’s Juvenile Facility Standards for the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act (“PREA”).
If any of these discussions impact you, and you would like more information, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org subject line “M&C Inquiry” and we will provide it.
URGENT: Furloughs Negotiated in 2010 Set to Expire on June 30, 2015
The 2010-2012 MOU included a wage concession in exchange for twelve (12) furlough days per year. Subsequent agreements extended the ability to use all floating holidays accrued through June 30, 2013 until June 30, 2015. Please make sure you schedule and use any remaining pre 13-14 floating holidays and/or furlough days prior to June 30, 2015. You retain the ability to carry over up to five (5) standard floating holidays each year per the current MOU. Feel free to call MEA with any questions.
CCSF and MTA Management Training Funds for 2014-2015 Exhausted
The MEA Management Training Funds for both the CCSF and MTA have been exhausted for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. The online Tuition Manager program will no longer accept new pre-approval requests. If you have any questions regarding previously submitted pre-approval requests or reimbursement requests please contact Camaguey Corvinelli (415) 989-7244 or Camaguey@sfmea.com.