Pension Scofflaws

Dave and Cyndi Epstein were on a trip to Israel and decided to rent a car so that they could drive around and see the sites. As Dave pulled into a crowded Tel Aviv parking lot, he asked a police officer standing there, “Excuse me officer, is it all right to park here?”

“No,” said the cop. “Can’t you see that No Parking sign?”

“What about all those other cars in there?” Dave asked.

The cop shrugged. “They didn’t ask.”

In 2010 ‘reformer’ Christie took aim at curbing excessive benefits for public employees:

Gov. Chris Christie and lawmakers of both parties will unveil a series of sweeping pension and benefit reforms Monday that could affect every public employee in New Jersey while saving the state billions of dollars, according to four officials with direct knowledge of the plan.

The proposals would require workers and retirees at all levels of government and local school districts to contribute to their own health care costs, ban part-time workers at the state and local levels from participating in the underfunded state pension system, cap sick leave payouts for all public employees and constitutionally require the state to fully fund its pension obligations each year.

That state funding requirement turned out to be a joke and, after looking through the state database of active pension members, that ban on part-time workers does not seem to have completely taken in Union County.

S-2/A-2461 effective on or about May 21, 2010

  • Limits enrollment to defined benefits plans to full-time employees instead of the compensation threshold currently in PERS.  For local government, full-time employees must work 32 hours per week.  Employees working less than 32 hours prior to the law going into effect would continue in the pension system as long as they remain continuously employed.
  • All new part-time employees, defined in the law as those working less than 32 hours per week, no longer qualify for PERS but will go into the Defined Contribution Retirement Plan.
  • Increases the compensation requirement to join the Defined Contribution Retirement Plan from $1,500 to $5,000.

Sorting by salary that database of public employees in Union County reported as having entered the pension system after May 21, 2010 we find these employees on the low-end:

ucp1

ucp2

ucp3

ucp4

Do these public employees work over 32 hours per week? Do they have a second (or third) public sector job that gets them into the defined benefit system? Has there been another law change to get them in that did not get publicized quite as much?

Or are these people in the system by mistake and will they be getting pensions by mistake too?

7 responses to this post.

  1. I’ll defer to others re: the questions at the end of the post. But strictly in terms of public policy, is there a good reason to exclude PT workers from PERS, while continuing to bestow the “DB-lifestyle” on generally-more-affluent FT workers? The PT workforce ; is in general lower-paid and in more-precarious employment. On the face of it, that particular provision sounds regressive to me…

    Reply

    • Remember, this is NJ government. A lot of part-time jobs are sinecure appointments to boards that do not meet or do little more than rubber-stamp when they do meet (ie Union County Utilities Authority). They are spoils of election victories that connected politicians who could use more service credits for their pensions avail themselves of.

      Reply

  2. I propose to extend the NJ Alternative Benefit Program to all levels of government including school districts

    Reply

    • Posted by Anonymous on November 23, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      Part-time workers are enrolled in NJAPB as of 2010, maybe union county grandfather those hired before the effective date of the reforms.

      Reply

  3. Posted by Anonymous on November 23, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    NJ public school teachers do not work 32 hours per week, neither do college and university faculty members. The laws are silent on this huge workplace matter.

    Reply

    • Posted by George on November 28, 2016 at 10:21 am

      do not work 32 hours

      They do work at grading papers ect. But of course you could outsource grading to India. Actually you might be able to outsource most white collar gov jobs. Or automate them.

      Kumon, a tutoring service has the students doing self directed and self graded work.

      Discussing hours worked is not necessarily an issue any more as most non gov work requires unpaid time. For example commuting or keeping up with new material, or just plain doing extra work.

      Reply

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