Mayor Jim Strickland says, for younger employees, the new hybrid pension plan is better.
But the police and firefighters association, they say no way and plan on fighting it in court.
The move strains an already tense relationship between the mayor and employees.
Pensions are gone for most folks, but for city employees, it was a benefit that helped make up for the fact that nobody was getting rich on the job. Now it’s gone.
If you are an officer or a firefighter with fewer than seven and a half years on the job, you now get a retirement plan that is a combination of a pension and a plan like a 401K.
“It is absolutely better,” said Strickland.
No ifs, ands, or butts about it to the big man about the new benefits.
“The facts show that the younger the employee is, this new plan will actually be better than the old plan, and at the end of the day, they will make more money,” said Strickland.
It should be no surprise the mayor feels this way. Back when he was just Jim Strickland, city council member, he voted for the cuts in health and retirement benefits for city employees. And this has contributed to the Grand Canyon type divide between the mayor, especially the police and firefighters association. They went to court and tried to stop the new retirement plan from taking effect. They couldn’t get an injunction to stop it, but they still intend to fight it in court.
“These young people take it from perception instead of reality. And perception is, well, ok, we lost the injunction, we don’t have a chance in the case, which is the furthest thing from the truth,” said Thomas Malone with the Memphis Firefighters Association.
The mayor is big on mediation, on working out compromise deals. The Greensward parking fight at Overton Park is an example. But compromise is just a dream in this case.
“The new plan is better than the old plan despite the misinformation that is being put out there,” said Strickland.
You get the idea now? These groups won’t be standing in a circle holding hands and singing folk songs anytime soon. They’re talking will be in a courtroom.