Florida

Putting Education Reform To The Test

Teachers Union Responds To Supreme Court’s Pension Ruling

Jordan Michael/StateImpact Florida

FEA President Andy Ford and attorney Ron Meyer call the pension law a tax on teachers and other state workers.

Teachers and other state workers will have to continue contributing 3 percent of their salary to their retirement.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the pension law passed by the Legislature in 2011 will stand.

Now, the state teachers union is blasting lawmakers for imposing what it calls a tax on working families.

The law has been in legal limbo since it went into effect a year and a half ago.

Speaking to reporters shortly after the ruling, Florida Education Association (FEA) President Andy Ford said his group has no further recourse.

“We believe that our arguments were correct and that the justices just didn’t understand what they were doing to a half a million Florida families,” Ford said.

Starting in 1975, public employee pensions were fully funded by the state.

In 2011, the Florida Legislature decided state workers should start contributing 3 percent of their pay into retirement.

Then, a judge in Tallahassee reversed the law because it might interfere with employees’ collective bargaining rights.

Finally, the Florida Supreme Court reinstated the law, finding that the Legislature acted within its authority to change workers’ retirement plans.

A loss for the state would’ve meant up to $2 billion had to be paid back to employees.

Attorney Ron Meyer represents the FEA, which sued to overturn the law.

“A school teacher, a policeman, a state worker,” Meyer said, “all of these public employees can scarcely afford a three percent reduction in their pay.”

If the ruling had gone against the state, the cost to reimburse employees would have been around $2 billion.

“It was all about making up a budget deficit on the back of state workers,” Meyer said.

Now there are calls for the Legislature to approve a hefty pay increase for state workers, who haven’t gotten a raise in six years.

“I’d like to believe that these are good people with good intentions who now have the wherewithal in the state treasury to finally start catching public employee salaries up to where they should be,” Meyer said.

The FEA is still waging a legal battle against a law regarding performance pay for teachers.

Comments

  • dirhart

    My understanding is that the money is going into the general fund, and NOT into their retirement at all.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/YK2656BT7RNVJKRULPU2M6VPNE Hung Lo

    I hope that the state employees at least get caught up to the $8.00 p/hr that I get! I know these people have to be swinging by their balls trying to make ends meet on $70,000 a year! For me to buy a new car means going to the local scrap yard to see if they have anything that still runs!

    Retirement Plan – What exactly is a “retirement plan”? Mine is Social Security!

    A loss for the state would’ve meant up to $2 billion had to be paid back to employees which you can bet the state officials have already spent!

    • Annoyed

      I’ve been applying to Florida school districts after completing a
      master’s degree. I have not found one school district that pays teachers
      $70,000… and trust me, I have applied to all the highest paying
      districts. Every district has posted salary schedules at some point in
      the last 5 years. All you have to do is search the internet or the Human
      Resources pages of the districts’ websites. Instead of automatically
      assuming EVERY state employee makes $70,000/yr, do some research before
      going online and making a fool of yourself to the world.

      • Tired of worthless teachers

        I hope that you are the type of teacher that wants to teach and not one of the ones that do it because they only work approximately 190 days a year, all holidays off, spring break, Christmas break and those supposedly in service day that is used to plan for or catch up on work! I live next to teachers that make about $45,000/yr and have the summer off and still complain they don’t make a lot of money. Oh, and lets not forget that they also have the same school schedule that my child has!! 3% of their pay to go into their own pension should be exactly what happens. I had to pay into mine. Tax payers didn’t do it for me! I hope you get the teacher’s job you want and really like to teach our youth!

  • Howie76

    The teachers union appears to have attorneys not worth their salt. This should not have been difficult to defend. I blame the attorneys for not setting up a good argument. Now the State knows they can do whatever they want to State employees to screw them over.

    • Union Fan

      FEA has not lost a lawsuit in 10 years. Apparently, they don’t make enough money

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