Union groups say new pension plan cuts their benefits

Updated: Oct. 18, 2017 at 7:11 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Governor Matt Bevin announced Kentucky's pension reform plan called "Keeping The Promise" on Wednesday morning.

"We have been hashing out, in great detail how we are going to deliver on the promise of saving the pension system," Governor Bevin said.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Bevin unveils plan to save public pension systems

Bevin detailed key elements of the plan that will impact state workers including teachers and first responders. Unions representing these two groups have been vocal about their opposition to recommendations from the consulting group the state hired to study the pension problem.

While the "Keep the Promise" plan does not change the age of retirement, union groups said it cuts down on their benefits by changing a defined benefits plan to a defined contribution plan. They're also concerned that 3% of their salary will go toward funding the retiree health care program.

"We cannot support this structure," Captain Brian O'Neil, President of the Louisville Professional Firefighters, said.

O'Neil said part of this proposal is cutting benefits they've already been promised.

"A three percent pay cut to members just to pay for benefits that were already promised to them in the first place is unacceptable to our membership," O'Neil said.

O'Neil also explained that while the union can't support the plan in its entirety, he's thankful for the state-mandated payments to the system and no change to the retirement age.

"That part is gone and we're appreciative of that," O'Neil said.

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Jefferson County teachers union president Brent McKim said the JCTA is not in favor of the plan either, especially when it comes to ditching the defined benefits plan and enrolling some teachers into a defined contribution plan.

He said this plan is less secure, it violates their contract.

"The bottom line is that this plan will cost taxpayers far more than the current plan every year and will provide employees with worse and less secure retirement benefits," McKim said. "Why would anyone in Kentucky want the legislature to do that? This will interfere with attracting and keeping the best teachers in our classrooms."

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