Local 6 Legislative Information & Update as of 4/3/08

Group II: The legislation that we filed on Group 2 (H-2611) was rolled into a study order (H-4607). This legislation is described as an “order relative to authorizing the committee on Public Service to make an investigation and study of certain House documents concerning active and retired public employees.” H-4607 was reported favorably out of committee on March 27, 2008 and subsequently referred to the committee on Joint Rules and then discharged to the committee on House Rules. We will keep you posted on any changes to this legislation.

Court Reporter Page Rate: OPEIU Local 6 filed legislation to increase the pay rate for transcript pages produced by Official Court Reporters. This legislation (H-1534) was filed and had a public hearing in January 2007. On March 31, 3008 it was reported favorably out of committee and subsequently referred to the committee on Joint Rules and then discharged to the committee on House Rules.

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Local 6 Legislative Information & Update as of 10/15/07

Group II: OPEIU Local 6 representatives and members testified before the Joint Committee on Public Service on Thursday, October 11, 2007. The committee heard testimony from us, in addition to a number of other groups that had similar legislation on behalf of their own members.

The Joint Committee then reviews the testimonies and supporting documents and recommends that the legislation either proceeds to the full body for a vote or that no action be taken at all. As soon as we have an update, we will let you know.

The bill, which is H-2611 was sponsored by Representative Thomas P. Kennedy (D-9th Plymouth District). Please contact your legislators and ask them to support this important legislation. If you do not know who your legislators are, please go to www.wheredoivotema.com to find out.

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Local 6 Legislative Information & Update as of 9.4.07

Group 2 Update: We filed legislation to get you into Group 2. H-2611 would place all Trial Court employees represented by OPEIU Local 6 into Group 2 of the state pension system. The legislation, which was sponsored by Rep. Thomas Kennedy (D-Brockton) is slated for a hearing on October 11, 2007 at 11 a.m. We will be providing more information and be looking for volunteers to join us at the Statehouse to testify on this bill.

Windfall Elimination Provisions/Government Pension Offset (WEP/GPO): Federal legislation is slated to be heard by the Social Security Subcommittee. This legislation H.R. 82, that currently affects the retirement benefits of all our state and municipal members, has the support of 75% of the House of Representatives, including the entire Mass delegation. On the Senate side, there is a companion repeal bill, S.206, which is also supported by our Massachusetts Senators.

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Local 6 Legislative Information & Update as of 3/21/07

Group II: OPEIU Local 6 has refilled legislation on behalf of our Trial Court members to have them reclassified into the Group II retirement system. The classification into a retirement group is based on the dangerousness of the job. The members who work at the Trial Court work alongside fellow employees who are classified as Group II (probation and court officers) and it is the position of OPEIU Local 6 that our members come into contact with the same people that other court employees do and face the same threats and danger.

The bill, which is H-2611 was sponsored by Representative Thomas P. Kennedy (D-9th Plymouth District). Please contact your legislators and ask them to support this important legislation. If you do not know who your legislators are, please go to www.wheredoivotema.com to find out.

GPO/WEP: Legislation is currently pending at the federal level to eliminate the GPO/WEP. The House bill (H.R. 82) has the support of the entire Massachusetts Congressional delegation. The senate version (S-206) has eight co-sponsors and Massachusetts Senators Ted Kennedy and John Kerry are expected to sign on. The GPO/WEP mostly affects public employees in Massachusetts, California, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Ohio, and Texas.

The Government Pensions Offset (GPO) affects members who apply for SS spousal benefits, based upon their husband or wife’s work record under the program, and fail to satisfy two exceptions. Members must either be eligible for their public pension before December 1, 1982 and meet all requirements for SS spousal benefits in effect in January 1977 (i.e., husband received one-half support from his wife), or be eligible for their pension before July 1, 1983 and receiving one-half support from his or her spouse.

Unless a member satisfies one of these two exceptions, then the amount of their SS spousal benefits will be reduced by two-thirds of their public pension. For example, if your pension is $9,000 and you’re eligible for $6,000 in SS spousal benefits, two-thirds of your pension ($6,000) would unfortunately reduce your SS benefits to zero. Note: Even if you do not receive actual benefits, you can still be covered by Medicare.


The WEP (Windfall Elimination Provision)
 affects members who apply for their own (not spousal) SS benefits and fail to satisfy certain exceptions. A major exception is that members, who were eligible for their public pension before January 1, 1986 (i.e., 20/more years of service under age 55, or 10/more years over 55) or have at least 30 years of substantial coverage under Social Security, are exempt from the WEP. (There is some relief for those with 20-30 years of SS coverage.)

If a member doesn’t satisfy the exceptions, then they are subject to the WEP, meaning that their SS benefits will be calculated using a different formula. Under that different formula, instead of receiving 90% of the first $606, which the member earned on the average each month (in this case, $545.40), the member would receive only 40% of their first $606 ($242.40) – more than 55% less in benefits.