Monday, June 15, 2009

Unions sue over 1.5 percent increase to pension fund

Members of four public employee unions this morning plan to file a lawsuit against the state over a provision approved by the Legislature this year that calls for them to pay 1.5 percent more into a pension program over the next two years.

Critics have called the move “a pickpocket” and a “pay raid.” The plan is supposed to save the state about $42 million a year, lawmakers have said, and is seen as a way to keep the pension funds afloat. The change applies to workers covered under the Public Employees Retirement Association and the Educational Retirement Board.

One plantiff in the suit, Peggy Stielow, a Rio Rancho teacher and union member, said in a statement that she "decided to file because lawmakers balanced the budget on the backs of employees’ rights."

"By enacting this law the state has made a legal statement that their contract with public pensioners is an option and so are the constitutional rights of pensioners,” Stielow said.

Employees who earn $40,000 a year would see about $20 less in their paychecks every pay period.

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