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Retirement craziness with our government

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Okay, mostly I need to vent. So this is going to be the place. Plus I need to get the story straight.

About 20 years ago, the teachers' union (and the administrators' union, and some other unions) negotiated contracts with the local gov't - and the contracts included pay raises. The governor, after agreeing to the contracts and raises, then refused to sign the contracts for the rest of his administration. The following governor agreed to the same contracts, and signed them retroactively, to the date that the contracts were first negotiated. (I think there was also a court order in there mandating that the gov't had to accept these contracts, since the governor had agreed to the contracts within negotiation, and failure to sign did not negate the contracts.)

Of course, the government didn't really have the $ to pay anyone the new salaries - plus the legislature has to find revenue in the budget to allocate toward the various departments.

So - with all those delays - we haven't been paid much of the negotiated raises.

The way each department handled the retroactive salary raises was to issue Notification of Personnel Action (nopa) for each employee, and each raise. So I might have a nopa from 2000 that raises my salary from 1994 to 2000 - but I didn't receive the raise until 2000, and the date the salary became effective is written on the nopa. Technically, I'm still owed that raise for the six years in the nopa - but I did not in fact receive that money or that salary until the effective date. (This is just one example of many.)

Got all of that? Is that clear? Yes? Okay, to continue with the craziness:

Now that I'm retiring, I go in to the gov't employees retirement service (gers - we're into acronyms here) and my benefits analyst, who is a very nice and helpful lady, shows me how she calculates what has been paid as my contribution into retirement (8% of each paycheck before taxes) plus the gov't contribution - and how she calculates what SHOULD have been paid. And she goes through my employment history, nopa by nopa, to see how many years I was at what salary - then takes 8% of each year, and adds it up. Compares that to what I actually paid.

And, since she has been told by her boss and the board of directors to use the years the nopa refers to, NOT the effective date, she comes up with a figure that includes 8% of the retroactive salary monies due to me - NOT a number based on 8% of what I was actually paid. PLUS the government's contribution which was not paid on the money I did not receive. But wait, there's more - then I'm expected to pay 6% more, for "lost investment opportunities." Yes, a penalty for the government not paying a contribution on money the government owes me but has not yet paid me.

Alice in Wonderland stuff here!!!!!!

My lovely benefits lady said she knows it is crazy. My BIL the labor attorney calls it extortion. I call it fraud. And conspiracy to commit fraud. Because my sweet principal is on the board of gers, and he keeps telling the other board members that their policy is wrong, that you cannot make people pay based on money they never received. The board members have voted him down, and are ignoring this issue - because no one has taken them to court yet. Therefore, it is a conspiracy. Right?

So right now, the estimated amount I owe is over $3000 - and the gov't has not paid close to $12,000 for my estimated contributions. And gers wants me to pay all of that before they'll issue a retirement check to me.

My sweet principal said today he thinks the board will agree that THIS YEAR'S retirees won't have to pay the gov't contribution. I told him that they still want me to pay based on my retroactive salary increases, and that makes no sense. So I gave him a copy of a nopa that has an effective date, and he's going to show the board that they are indeed violating the language of the nopa by having the staff use the wrong dates.

I told my principal I'm ready to go to the newspaper with this. He told me to do what I have to do. But they have a meeting on Monday, and he hopes they make a policy saying what and how to calculate based on nopas - and to use the effective dates, NOT the years for which retro is owed. (Because when the retro is paid, if it ever is, then my 8% and the gov't % will be paid to retirement.)

I just hope this is figured out in six weeks.

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