New Orleans firefighters will get the full $75 million in back pay they have been seeking from the city for decades, paid for largely with a new tax, in exchange for changes that will make their pension plan less generous for new hires.The back pay was the most serious issue and it's good to see that they're getting all of it. I'd have to understand the pension modifications a bit better but, according to this article, the most troubling concession is that they've raised the retirement age and cut benefits for new hires. Mitch's public criticism of the pension fund has been focused mostly on how badly it was managed. A direct benefit cut doesn't really have anything to do with resolving that issue.
Those are among the key provisions of a deal reached Thursday night between the city and the firefighters union.
The deal appears to put to rest the two largest lawsuits hanging over the city’s head while addressing at least some of the criticisms leveled by Mayor Mitch Landrieu and others over the way the pension fund is run and the benefits available to firefighters.
The most significant effect most people will notice is the plan calls for a 2.5 mil tax increase for voters to approve on the April ballot. But even if that fails, it doesn't look to be a dealbreaker.
The tax is projected to generate about $7.5 million a year, with $5 million going directly to the firefighters who are owed back pay and the rest toward the city’s payments to the pension fund.Otherwise, if it comes together, it means that a major thirty year problem for the city will have been resolved and the firefighters and their families will finally get what the courts have repeatedly said they are entitled to. So congratulations.
Both sides have agreed that the deal will stay in place even if the tax fails. In that scenario, the payments will occur over a longer time frame.
Now... about that jail...