FEA leads union lawsuit to overturn 3 percent employee payments to retirementby John Kennedy | June 20th, 2011
The state’s largest teachers’ union joined with other labor groups Monday in suing to overturn a new 3 percent payroll contribution for the 655,000 workers who belong to the Florida Retirement System, claiming the change violates a 37-year-old contractual agreement with public employees.
The lawsuit was filed in Leon County Circuit Court. But Ron Meyer, a lawyer for the Florida Education Association which filed the suit on behalf of 11 government workers who are members of the FRS, said it will likely wind up being settled in coming months by the Florida Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the 3 percent contributions, which kick-in July 1, should be segregated in a state account, awaiting the legal outcome, Meyer said. Documents requesting an injunction to set aside the money has been filed by the FEA with Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford, who has been assigned the case
“We believe a promise is a promise and the state of Florida should live by the promises it makes,” Meyer said Monday.
The Republican-ruled Florida Legislature agreed to stop the full-employer paid provision of the FRS, instead making employees pay 3 percent of their paychecks into the plan. The roughly $1 billion drawn into state coffers with the employee contributions helped lawmakers cover an almost $3.8 billion budget shortfall.
Teachers and other school personnel represent the majority of the 655,000 members of the FRS affected by the new law. But the 11 workers suing the state include members of the AFL-CIO, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Fraternal Order of Police, and Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
“It’s a contractual right,” Meyer said of what the union contends lawmakers have violated. “IF you had a 30-year mortgage to buy a house, would your lender 20 years in tell you the house is going to cost 3 percent more?”