Survivors of slain police officers speak out against House pension bill

Labor opposition continues to grow day by day to state legislation that could free up $700 million for Philadelphia.

For days now, city municipal leaders have said they don't oppose a city sales tax hike and a two-year plan to defer pension payments - measures rigorously sought by Mayor Nutter. But they do oppose other provisions in the same bill - to be considered next Tuesday by the House - that they believe limit their right to pursue pension benefits changes through a collective bargaining an arbitration process.

Philadelphia's AFL-CIO president, Pat Eiding, spoke strongly against the bill in today's Inquirer story, saying: "[Lawmakers] want our money to help them and they want our feet to walk the streets to help them get elected. It's not a threat to anybody, but we want them to respect what little labor laws we have in this country."

Soon, Senate and House legislators will find their mailboxes stuffed with yet another angry letter.

This one is written on letterhead from Lodge 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police, but its authors are the surviving spouses and family members of eight Philadelphia police officers killed in the past three years.

"As a result of the 2008-2009 collective bargaining agreement, the FOP was able to secure a pension improvement whereby the pension of slain police officers is automatically increased one rank for purposes of compensation. This improvement not only represents a permanent financial benefit to our families, but a lasting memorial to the appreciation of the citizens of Philadelphia for the sacrifices that we made.

"Although this pension improvement costs virtually nothing in the scheme of things, the current version of (House Bill 1828) would make improvements of this nature illegal in the future!"

Then the letter-writers say this: "We collectively feel that the public expressions of consolation by our local politicians at the funeral services for our loved ones to be disingenuous given the content of this proposed legislation, which they are now seeking to implement. Clearly the economic relief sought by the City should not work to the detriment of the police and their families and/or preclude them from meaningful collective bargaining."

The letter is signed by, Roslyn Harrison, Kim Pawlowski, Jasmine Nazario; Larry and Patsy McDonald, Kathy Simpson, Ann Skerski, Judy Cassidy and Michelle Liczbinski.

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