Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Teachers Sue Scott

The Florida teachers union and others are taking on Gov. Rick Scott and the new law that makes state employees pay into the retirement fund.

The lawsuit was filed in Leon County on behalf of 11 workers from across the state, including two nurses and a social worker in Miami-Dade County, a custodian in Madison County and a social studies teacher in Hillsborough County. The Police Benevolent Association, the largest union of law enforcement officers in the state, joined the lawsuit. The workers are asking the court to put aside, while the case moves through the judicial system, the more than $1 billion the state saves from reducing teacher pay 3 percent and ending the cost of living increase on their retirement benefits.

“This pay cut was used by legislative leadership to make up a budget shortfall on the backs of teachers, law-enforcement officers, firefighters and other state workers,” said FEA President Andy Ford. “It is essentially an income tax levied only on workers belonging to the Florida Retirement System. It’s unfair — and it breaks promises made to these employees when they chose to work to improve our state.”

The lawsuit claims the state violated its contractual obligation to state workers when it shifted money from worker pay to replace some of the state’s obligation to pay into the Florida Retirement System. The union says state law expressly provides that employees do not have to contribute part of their salaries to the state retirement system, and that the shift violates those rights.

It would be one thing if the FRS was in dire straits or if it wasn’t in the context of the governor giving more tax breaks to the corporations in Florida. But FRS is not in trouble, nor has it ever been, and the concept of “shared sacrifice” doesn’t even enter into the picture. Gov. Scott has been pretty transparent from the beginning that he’s hostile to public employees, and this is his way of sticking it to them.