From The Directors ...
|By Brendan O'Leary, Director|
Thank you to all that have returned the Contract Survey to the Union Office. Over five hundred union members took the time to let us know about issues that were important to them regarding the approaching contract negotiations. We are in the process of evaluating and scoring the responses according to the rankings that you gave each of the twelve categories. This information will be used by the negotiating team to develop a strategy in dealing with your priorities.
TRACKING WORKING FIRES
At the January membership meeting a discussion was held regarding the possibility of tracking individual members response to working fires. This information would be helpful in tracking exposures for
|subsequent documentation of work related injuries and illnesses (such as cancer). This information would also be helpful in documenting the 100 fires that are required for Acting Assignment as a H6 Investigator (General Order 06 A-67) In light of the Urinary Cancer Screening Program (General Order 06 A-68), it would be very helpful to have access to a data base that would quickly track a members exposures during their career.
A preliminary contact with the Management Information Systems Division of the Fire Department revealed that this type of data base, one that merged Computer Assisted Dispatch (CAD) information with People Soft (who was working on the units that responded) was possible. The current limitations are that the data base would be unable to capture any information prior to 2002.
The following information was contained in an article in the September/October 2006 edition of the International Fire Fighter.
In August 2006, the IAFF won an unprecedented congressional victory in the successful passage of its Health Care Enhancement for Local Public safety Retirees (HELPS). The HELPS legislation amends the Internal Revenue Code to exempt up to $3,000 per year from retired public safety officer pension benefits or distributions from deferred compensation account for premium costs for health care or long-term care insurance programs.
The article also states that beginning January 1, 2007, public safety officers, including fire fighters, who retire and are receiving benefits from a pension account, are entitled to participate in the HELPS retirees program. Federal taxes are not deducted from the portion of the pension benefit provided to the health insurance company, and the tax statement provided by the pension plan at the end of the year does not include any of the money paid to the insurer.
What does this all mean to SFFD retirees? Clare Murphy, Executive Director of the San Francisco City and County Employees Retirement System has provided us with the following information. SFERS will be working with other City and County agencies to determine the policy issues and implementation alternatives by all of the Pension Protection Act of 2006 as it affects our agencies. There are many complex issues. The Retirement System is awaiting Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor guidance which should be issued by the end of February 2007. The other City and County agencies involved include City Attorney, Controller, Health Services and possibly others. She has assured us that she will notify us of any Retirement Board meetings which will address this issue and any Board of Supervisors meetings should legislation be required.