City of Long Beach and Firefighter’s Association Reach Tentative Pension Reform Agreement

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lbfd-truck industrial accident at the Long Beach Port

Photo by steve lyon

On Friday October 7, 2011 the City of Long Beach and the Firefighter’s Association (FFA) announced a tentative agreement to significantly reduce pension costs, enact pension reform, and provide future budget relief. The FFA approved the agreement in a vote that concluded Friday afternoon.

“The savings from pension reform are critical to continuing the service levels our community expects,” said Mayor Bob Foster. “This agreement, and the Police Officer Association agreement previously approved, creates significant long term savings. I applaud the FFA for approving this new contract and appreciate their willingness to come to the table in the interest of the common good.”

“Your Long Beach Firefighters understood and have committed to the long term sustainability and reform of employee pensions,” said Rich Brandt, President, Long Beach Firefighters Association. “Along with the financial savings, this agreement commits to adequate staffing on our Fire Engines and Fire Trucks providing the Citizens of Long Beach with the high level of service they deserve.”

In total, the agreement is expected to save at least $35.9 million over the next 10 years, including a projected $6.1 million from pension plan reductions for new FFA members. This agreement is part of a major effort by the City and its employee associations to improve the city’s ability to serve its citizens by sharing the burdens needed to resolve the city’s ongoing budget shortfalls.

The agreement establishes a new pension tier of 2 percent at age 50 for all new firefighters, and retirement compensation will be based on a three-year final average salary. All current and new firefighters will pay their full share of employee retirement costs, equal to 9 percent of salary. To meet that commitment, upon the ratification of the agreement, FFA employees will return 7 percent of their pay to the City. The currently scheduled increases over the next three years will be replaced with a 6 percent raise in FY 12, and a 1 percent raise in FY 14. The contract will be extended through FY 16 (September 30, 2016), with no additional raises scheduled. During the term of the contract, fire engines and fire trucks will be staffed with four persons on each apparatus; with the Fire Chief retaining the ability to adjust staffing levels, if necessary.

This tentative agreement will return to the City Council in open session within the next 30 days. If formally approved by the City Council, the agreement will become the eighth agreement the City has enacted containing significant pension reform. In addition to enacting seven other pension reform agreements, the Mayor and City Council have led by example and are paying their full share of their pension costs.

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