Just when you think you think you know what you think they mean when they imposed their "Last, Best and Final" offer for a contract and you have made life changing decision based on what you thought you understood you find out that what you thought was not what they meant or what they said. Did you get that? I'm confused too. I was reading the SDPOA Blog this afternoon and caught a post from a member who was obviously upset about this same thing.
The post starts; "I hope I am not the only one but I find this whole issue of Retiree Medical Benefits very confusing. On one hand we are told our future medical benefits are capped at $740. Many of us have had to make life changing decisions based on this. Now we are being told the COLA alone is being frozen for two years." I pulled out the papers I received when we all met at the SDPOA to hear the news of what the mayor was going to cram down our throat. The papers I have clearly indicate the COLA for Retiree Medical was going to be frozen at $740. I believe it was stated on more than one occasion and by more than one person, this is NOT a temporary freeze, but a permanent freeze. This was re-enforced by the analysis offered by Mark Sullivan showing what the freeze to this COLA would mean to the member over years.
I re-read what Jeff Jordon posted regarding the meeting the SDPOA Board had with the City on Thursday. Jeff said the meeting; "primarily addressed our new litigation involving DROP age at 55 and the interest rate change, along with potential litigation over retiree medical if the City moves forward with the changes in their Last Best and Final Offer." Jeff went on to explain discussion regarding Retiree Medical. Jeff wrote; "They also made it very clear that it is unlikely that changes will be made to the retiree health care language already contained in their LBFO. Per the City, they are arguing that nobody is harmed by this agreement, because they could choose to stay and that the automatic COLA on retiree health is only "suspended" for the next two years. This suspension could be lifted and they would not be harmed if agreements are reached on this issue in the future. It is only until the COLA is actually eliminated that they will be harmed and able to litigate per the City." I would argue the moment I did not receive a COLA for my Retiree Medical I have been harmed. I don't think I need to wait two years of harm to know I was harmed. But that's just me.
OK, so I thought I understood what the "Last, Best and Final" offer for a contract was when presented to us. I thought it was clear to everyone present; this was a permanent freeze of the amount of money ($740) the City was going to provide Retirees. It now appears this is not correct. Could it be Jeff just miss-spoke when he wrote this short synopsis of the meeting with the City? Could it be the City back-peddling in an attempt to cover its ass? Could it be they are just confused? Maybe I am confused!
The post I was first talking about goes on; "WTF!!! Why were we not informed of this language? Was this in the original impasse imposition or is this something that was just now changed? I am tired of being F(*&(&(&(K'd with! WHAT IS GOING ON?? It appears to me the wonderful city we all work for is doing their best, and doing a wonderful job of it too, to cause as much confusion, hatred, and discontent with our employment so we decide to abandon ship. Was this all just a strategy worked up by our Mayor? It would seem so. Somebody clear this up for me."
I have fielded a dozen calls about this change and honestly do not have an answer for you. I am as confused as the person who posted in the SDPOA Blog. The confusion is creating anger, frustration and more lost hope. People are angry because they do not believe they have all the information necessary to make the life changing decisions many are struggling still to make. People are frustrated because they can't seem to get straight answers to their questions. People are losing hope because the cut-off date to make their decision is fast approaching and there is no sign of honest answers.
The last line of Jeff's post may be the most telling of all. Jeff closes with the following; "People that are looking to preserve their retiree health care as it exists now, should continue to meet with their financial advisors and their families to determine what is right for them." Maybe it's not as confusing as we are making it out to be. The mayor has clearly shown his hand and is hell bent on TAKING. He is not going to give anything back to us and as the economy continues to swirl in the toilet, the sign of anything good coming of retiree medical is not good. Thanks mayor for the caring, honest, support you have shown over the years.