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    Nov 12, 2019

       Consolidation Our Way!

          By ILFOPLC, Staff - Tuesday, November 12, 2019


                Your voices have been heard regarding the proposed consolidation of downstate municipal police pension funds. The fight is far from over, but it appears that when FOP members speak out, lawmakers listen.

                Thanks to your legislator outreach, letters to the editor and other ways of making your views known, state lawmakers are considering amendments to the legislation to consolidate pension funds that will address several of our major concerns. We have agreed in principle with these proposed amendments and will ensure they make it into the final language of the bill.

                The revised legislation would give active and retired municipal police officers a majority of the board that controls the consolidated investments. It would create an investment board of police officers and mayors that is elected by active and retired officers – it would not be controlled by the state and therefore its funds could not be swept. Five board members would be elected by police officers and four members elected by the mayors. Local funds would also be kept in place to administer benefit determinations, pay benefits, and conduct disability proceedings.

                The revised bill would also remove outdated and damaging restrictions on pension investments so that police officers could have their money invested for the best rate of investment returns and at a lower risk.

                Perhaps most importantly, there are meaningful and badly needed corrections to the unfair and flawed Tier II benefits. We achieved an amendment that would bring Conservation, University, Capitol and Commerce Commission Police, as well as arson investigators, back into the alternative formula for Tier II. Additionally it would increase the total maximum salary for Tier II officers to match Social Security, improve survivor benefits for Tier II officers who die before earning 10 years, and improve the final average salary calculations for Tier II officers.

                And for a significant, long-term change, we achieved legislation that would remove the ability for municipalities to use bogus actuarial assumptions to underfund their pensions.

                As you can see, we have had numerous successful meetings and conversations that have produced some results, but we are far from done. We intend to continue to work with the Governor’s office and the General Assembly to make sure the final legislation works in accordance with our principles. We appreciate all the membership has done in working together to accomplish our mutual goals.


    Nov 06, 2019

       Palos Heights

          By John R. Roche, Jr., Attorney - Wednesday, November 6, 2019


             The Palos Heights Patrol and Sergeants' bargaining unit negotiated a three year agreement. The employees will receive across the board wage increases of 3%, 3%, and 2.75% for each year of the Agreement. Specialty pay, including Detective Stipend, Range Officers, Police Cadet Advisor, Field Training Officer, DARE officer were all increased. The life insurance benefit was increased. An educational stipend was added. The insurance caps were modestly increased, but the insurance level was not changed. The Bargaining Unit was very well represented by Brent Dreger, John Parnitzke, Joel Evans, Joe Carlson, and Walter Droba. Labor Council Attorney John Roche assisted them.


    Nov 06, 2019

       Pulaski County

          By Joseph Rose, Attorney - Tuesday, November 5, 2019


             At one point in contract negotiations in late 2018, union steward Sgt. Kent Ray was the only active Labor Council union member.  With his tremendous help, the unit was able to successfully negotiate pay raise increases that will help recruit and retain deputies.  As a result of Sgt. Ray’s assistance, the unit now has 12 additional full-time members in less than one year who are working at a much more favorable wage scale than past years.


    Nov 04, 2019

       Ogle Co. Sergeants and Corporals

          By Jay Titus, Field Representative - Monday, November 4, 2019


             Congratulations to the Ogle County Patrol, Corrections, Control 3 & Corrections Clerk on reaching a new six year agreement.  Members were able to increase wages each year of the agreement, increase shift differential pay and also negotiated many other beneficial language changes.  Members agreed to changes to retiree health insurance for new hires only.  In exchange for this agreement, new members will receive an additional 2% step increase in their wage scales.

             The membership was represented by Deputy Doug Lockard, Deputy Chad Gillick, Deputy Kidra Plett and Deputy Carla Hill.  Field Representative Jay Titus and Mike Powell, as well as Field Supervisor Kevin Krug assisted the bargaining teams throughout the negotiations and mediation.


    Oct 25, 2019

       Member Communication on Consolidation

          By ILFOPLC, Staff - Friday, October 25, 2019


             As many of you have heard, the Governor is proposing the consolidation of all downstate and suburban police pension funds into one plan which will initially be controlled by the State.  The local pension fund boards that currently serve officers would continue to exist for now, but they would no longer have any authority to invest money for the local police officers.  Instead, all of the money would be held and invested by one fund.

            The Fund would initially be controlled by individuals appointed by the Governor.  After 3 years, the fund would be managed by a board including mostly mayors, with some elected active employees and an elected annuitant trustee.  This represents not only a loss of local control, but a reduction in police officer’s control of their own money.

            Not surprisingly, the labor unions representing law enforcement have been working hard against this proposal.  The Fraternal Order of Police, Illinois Police Benevolent and Protective Association and the Metropolitan Association of Police have been working together, hand in hand, to oppose and defeat this legislation. 

             The biggest obstacle is that that the proponent’s catch phrases sound great.  Phrases like “eliminate unnecessary government,” “reduce operational costs,” and “reduce property taxes” all sound great, but they are not based on any actual study or any real numbers.  The truth is that this proposal will cost all municipalities money up front.  Over the long term, it very well might reduce some costs and it may allow some funds to achieve higher returns, but this will take years. 

             The reality of the situation is that this complicated issue requires diligent study from actuaries and other professionals.  It requires inclusion of and buy-in from all stakeholder groups.  More than anything, this proposal needs time to be fully vetted and analyzed.  It needs to be publicly discussed and debated.  It can not be like so many of Illinois’ recent pension ideas like Tier II, Tier III and SB1 which all failed because they were pushed through quickly without proper discussion with professionals and affected parties. 

             We do appreciate the Governor’s inclusion of some much needed benefit fixes for downstate and suburban police officers who are under Tier II.  The Governor has proposed some fixes, but realistically, the fixes he has proposed are not enough to hand over control of $8 billion to the State of Illinois, especially considering the state’s abysmal track record in managing its own pension funds. 

             We can certainly use the help of all our members in communicating your concerns.  We have seen many great letters to the editor reiterating our concerns.  We also encourage our law enforcement community both active and retired to contact their State Senators and Representatives and let them know that this proposal is bad for police officers, bad for communities, and bad for taxpayers.


    Oct 22, 2019

       Batavia Patrol

          By John R. Roche, Jr., Attorney - Tuesday, October 22, 2019


             The Union and Employer reached a three year agreement covering the terms and conditions of employment of the Batavia Patrol Officers.  Apart from minor, insurance was largely status quo.  Percentage increases were added to existing stipends.  The time needed to reach Master Patrol officer was reduced by two years.  Uniform allowance was increased.  The employer agreed to contribute money for the purchase of a vest.  Three holidays were removed from the employer’s blackout list.  A cap was placed on the amount of comp time that can be used in a year.  Wages were increased by 2.75% for each year of the Agreement.  The bargaining unit was very ably represented by Ed Handel, Michelle Langston, John Kahl, Liz Webb, and Chris Potthoff.  John Roche was assigned as the Labor Council negotiator.


    Oct 22, 2019

       Lincoln

          By David Nixon, Field Representative - Monday, October 22, 2019


             A three-year agreement reached with the City of Lincoln  The agreement calls for wage increases of 2.75% in both the first and second years, and 3.00% in the final year.  Discipline language was changed and added demotion as a discipline measure.  Officer-involved-shooting language was added to the agreement. Other changes included sick leave buy-back, increase in family sick days, additional time and one-half pay for working on five major holidays, creation of an insurance advisory committee, residency proof requirements were spelled out and other minor clarification changes were made to the agreement.  The local team was headed by Shawn Petit, also consisted of Jake Kitner, Matt Comstock and Michael Fruge.  Field Representative David Nixon assisted the local team.


    Oct 11, 2019

       Membership Statement Regarding Consolidation Report

          By ILFOPLC, Staff - Friday, October 11, 2019


             As you may be aware, the Governor’s office released their recommendation to consolidate the investments of 350 downstate police pension funds on October 10, 2019.  The administrative team, lobbyists, and elected board members have analyzed the contents of the report and had no choice but to express their strong opposition to the findings. This opposition is based on the fact that we believe our membership is intelligent, sophisticated and has a basic constitutional right to be directly involved in the decision making over the financial management of their money.  Our opposition is also based on the fact that we believe that every officer is entitled to basic retirement security.  Finally, the opposition is based on a fundamental belief in a democratic process that is centered on an open and informed discussion. 

             This proposal ONLY recommends changes for our members of downstate and suburban police pension funds.  The recommendations in this report do not affect our members in state, county or civilian units.  Both the pension board consolidation and benefit changes are only for municipal police officers outside of the city of Chicago.

             In February the Governor announced that he was creating a committee to examine consolidation of these pension funds.  The IL FOP Labor Council quickly recognized that not a single law enforcement officer was a part of the committee. Knowing that if you are not at the table, you are on the menu; we immediately demanded to be included on the committee.  Our Executive Board Chairman, Tim Kobler was appointed as a committee member. While he was placed on the committee, his concerns were generally disregarded.  Kobler continued to express concerns about the process and was eventually kicked out of a committee meeting and not informed of later meetings. Even though he was appointed as a member of the committee, he was not given a draft of the committee’s report until it was made public.  Kobler was not allowed to vote on any of the recommendations of the committee. 

             Every law enforcement officer in Illinois wants the best-funded and lowest cost management of their retirement benefits.  As such, the IL FOP Labor Council was willing to listen to any recommendations or solutions that would modernize the management of all retirement dollars and improve the funding levels of each pension fund, but not at the costs the Governor is recommending.

          Specifically, this report recommends that all downstate police and fire funds investment and administrative authority (currently there are 649 of them) be consolidated into 2 separate funds (one police fund and one fire fund).  These funds would initially be controlled by the Governor and the boards would not be elected by the active or retired membership.  The Governor would also appoint the executive director.  The power of this board would slowly be transitioned to one that has elected active and retired members, but they would be bound by decisions made by the handpicked appointed board for the next 8 years.  Even after that period, the police pension board would have the lowest number of pension fund member representation of any pension fund in Illinois, 50%.  By comparison, Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (which covers sheriff employees and smaller municipal employees) has 100% of the board elected by members of the system.  The Labor Council’s message was consistent: we would not support any proposal that treats municipal law enforcement officers like unintelligent, unsophisticated second-class citizens, which is exactly what this report recommends.

             The report also recommends some benefit changes for certain Tier II police officers.  We have long been a loud voice for correction of the mistakes made under Tier II, but the recommendations of the Governor’s task force are not equally applied and don’t affect all police officers.  For instance, it does offer some help on salary, but only for officers making over $114,952.  Likewise, salary is better calculated under this proposal, but mostly for officers who get a promotion or salary improvement in their final 4 years of service.  We are glad the Governor is willing to look at the inequity of Tier II, but we believe it should be done in a way that addresses the inequities for all officers.  Likewise, we believe that an honest and open conversation needs to happen where all state law enforcement employees, university police, deputies, troopers and all public employees’ retirement security needs be taken seriously and fixed. 

              Finally, it is impossible for the members of law enforcement to know the costs of these recommendations.  We do not know the transition costs associated with this recommendation.  We do not know the increase or decrease in investment returns that our members should expect.  We do not know what companies will make millions and what companies will lose millions.  We do not know if cities will become better funded or if funds will go insolvent.  We don’t know any of this because no comprehensive actuarial report was done.  Contrary to State law, the last three Governors have let these funds go unaudited for decades, and the current Governor has not been able to eliminate this auditing backlog.  In many cases, the State doesn’t even have the data to do a full actuarial study of the problem.  The Labor Council believes this report is irresponsible because it is not based on anything other than cursory summaries and best guesses.

            The Labor Council’s membership commends the Governor on his willingness to tackle the tough conversations that face law enforcement and all Illinois’ citizens when it comes to retirement security.  We appreciate the Governor’s task force highlighting the inequalities between Tier I and Tier II employees.  We commend the Governor on his acknowledgment of the need for a statewide approach that doesn’t target one group over another.  We also commend the Governor’s acknowledgment of the benefits of a democratic process to manage money that belongs to the members of the pension fund. We even remain happy to participate in an open and transparent process where the retirement fund needs of all individuals in the State of Illinois are met and we call on the Governor to truly engage in that process.


    Oct 11, 2019

       Highlights of the Committee Report on Pension Fund Consolidation 

          By ILFOPLC, Staff - Friday, October 11, 2019


       

    • Consolidate the assets of all of the 649 suburban and downstate police and fire pension plans under two new statewide funds—one for police and one for fire.                                                         
    • Reject voluntary consolidation where funds can elect to participate in a consolidated plan.
    • For accounting purposes each fund would maintain individual and separate accounts for each municipality. On a regular basis each consolidated fund would provide a valuation of total assets. The assets and liabilities will remain separate.
    • With the daily opportunity cost of lost investment returns to the pension plans, the Task Force recommends that there be legislation passed by the General Assembly in the fall of 2019 to provide for this consolidation immediately.
    • The Task Force rejected consolidation under the Illinois State Board of Investment
    • The Task Force rejected consolidation under IMRF
    • The Task Force promoted Consolidation under a new Police Fund and a new Fire Fund
    • The Task Force recommends each board composition consist of 8 trustees, as follows: • 3 executive trustees elected by participating municipalities, • 2 police employee trustees elected by participating police members• 1 police  annuitant trustee elected by police annuitants • 1 ex officio trustee that is a representative of the statewide association representing participating municipalities (65 ILCS 5/1-8-1) • 1 ex officio trustee that is a representative of the largest statewide association representing police employees
    • The Task Force also notes that if consolidation of benefit administration (i.e. disability) for these funds is accomplished in the future, as recommended by the committee, that the composition of consolidated fund boards will likely be revisited.
    • The Task Force recognizes that there will be a “transition period.” It recommends an interim board for each be appointed, with the State Treasurer appointed as a trustee and chair to preside over meetings and only to cast a vote in the event of a tie among the other 8 trustees. The 9-member interim board would consist of the same categories of the aforementioned trustees but would be appointed by the Governor. The Governor would also appoint an interim executive director.  The Board would be able to make recommendations and the executive director would have a contract lasting 5 years after the initial period, effectively giving the Governor unrestrained control for 8 years.
    • The Task Force recommends the following timeline for consolidation of assets for each police board:

      

             July 1, 2020: Effective date of enacting legislation; transition period begins • Following effective date of enacting legislation: o Governor appoints, and terms begin, for interim trustees and the two interim executive directors o Interim custodian, actuary, general counsel, independent consultant(s), and auditing firm selected o Election and seating of permanent trustees; transition period ends o Seating of permanent executive director, selected by the new board (existing executive director may be considered) o Selection of permanent custodian, actuary, general counsel, independent consultant(s), and auditing firm (may extend existing contracts)• By July 1, 2023: Newly consolidated funds are fully operational, assuming at least 80% of existing assets have been consolidated into the trusts, with permanent boards and staff seated.

    • The Task Force also recommends the following benefit changes:

    1. Surviving Spouse Benefit for Non Line of Duty Death — Under Tier 1 benefits, surviving spouses of police and fire pension participants were entitled to 54% of final average salary, and if the employee passes away before they are vested, the spouse is still eligible for 54% of the salary at the time of death. When Tier 2 was enacted, Tier 2 spouses became entitled to two-thirds of the pension the deceased was entitled to at time of death, and therefore no pension benefit if the employee has not worked at least 10 years. Force recommends the Tier 1 surviving spouse benefits be reinstated for Tier 2 police officers.  

    2. Pensionable Salary Cap — Due to the aforementioned federal safe harbor concerns, for downstate and suburban police and fire employees the Task Force recommends increasing the pensionable salary cap growth (since the enactment of Tier 2 in 2011) from the current lesser of one-half the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) or 3%, to the lesser of CPI-U or 3%. This will attempt to ensure the pensionable salary cap grows quickly enough to avoid non-compliance with the federal safe harbor provision. The cap is currently $114,951.83.

     3. Final Average Salary — Currently under Tier 2, pension benefits are calculated based on the average of the highest 8 of the last 10 years of a member’s service. The Task force recommends changing this to 4 of 5.


    Oct 11, 2019

    Illinois Fraternal Order of Police

    Labor Council and State Lodge

    Springfield, IL


    October 10, 2019                                        

    For Immediate Release

    Contact: David Blanchette (217) 370-9223

    FOP contends Illinois Pension Consolidation Report is flawed due to lack of public, police input in process 

                The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) today expressed strong concerns about the recommendations contained within the Governor’s Committee on Pension Consolidation Report. FOP members had initially been optimistic that the committee would propose a process that would reduce fees, increase investment returns and better guarantee retirement security for law enforcement officers,  their widows and orphans. However, the committee's recommendations fail to accomplish these critical things.

      

                “Law enforcement officers were not allowed to participate, provide feedback or be shown that this was anything other than an attempt to grab officers' money,” said FOP Labor Council Executive Director Shawn Roselieb,who noted that the committee's meetings were not open to the public. “Officers have paid their own money into these police pension funds every working day of their lives.”

       

                The report recommends that the consolidated police pension fund be governed by a board where only 50 percent of the trustees are law enforcement officers. Illinois' 16 current public employee retirement funds, including the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, are constituted of governing boards with a majority of members of the fund.   

       

                “No one is more concerned with the proper administration of public safety pensions than our 36,000 members,” Roselieb said. “But this committee thinks downstate police officers are the only public employees who are just not smart or sophisticated enough to manage their own money.”

                The State of Illinois' “worst in the nation” track record of managing public pensions is also cause for concern among working and retired law enforcement officers.

                “Illinois police officers are not inclined to believe the state when it says it’s going to responsibly manage their money,” said FOP State Lodge President Chris Southwood. “This problem is at the heart of the FOP’s concern. Any consolidation must contain a firewall between police officers' money and the people responsible for the pension system debacle in this state.”

                Roselieb and Southwood urged members of the Illinois General Assembly to actively seek input from law enforcement officers and the general public on any pension consolidation proposal, something that the Committee on Pension Consolidation did not do when formulating its report. 

                “We applaud Governor Pritzker for taking on this tough subject,” Southwood said. “But the committee's secret deliberations and their attempt to diminish future public input on the pension fund's governance are not the right way to reach a good solution.”

                The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council is a law enforcement union representing more than 11,600 professionals in more than 514 bargaining units who work in the criminal justice system. The Labor Council negotiates and enforces contracts and improves salaries, working conditions, and benefits for law enforcement professionals throughout Illinois. Its members include police officers who work for municipalities, universities, and elected Constitutional officials; county sheriff’s deputies, correctional and court security officers; probation officers; 911 telecommunicators; law enforcement records personnel; and some related support staff. Visit www.fop.org for more information.

       

                The Fraternal Order of Police, founded in 1915, is the largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers in the United States. With a proud tradition of officers representing officers, the FOP is the most respected and most recognized police organization in the country. The Illinois FOP State Lodge, chartered in 1963, is the second-largest State Lodge, proudly representing more than 34,000 active duty and retired police officers - more than 10 percent of all FOP members nationwide. Visit www.ilfop.org for more information.




    Page Last Updated: Nov 12, 2019 (12:02:00)
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