Fort Worth Firefighters' Union to Sue to Block Pension Cuts: President

The Fort Worth firefighters' union plans to join a lawsuit to block steep pension and benefit cuts that its chief says could impact not just firefighters' families but the community, too.

The union will probably sign onto the police union's existing federal suit, union president Jim Tate said, after the Fort Worth city council approved the cuts in a 6-3 vote Tuesday.

"Morale is not going to be good,” Tate said. “But I will say this: The Fort Worth firefighters are still going to take care of the citizens of this city.”

Under the plan the city council approved Tuesday, the same pension formula used for other city workers would apply to firefighters, too.

The change means the multiplier used to calculate benefits drops from 3 percent to 2.5 percent and eliminates unscheduled overtime.

Mayor Betsy Price says it's needed to ensure the city is financially stable in the future but says any money accrued in the pension prior to Jan. 10 will not be touched.

“We want these pensions to be there for the employees when they get ready to retire, and the rate that it was going it was not sustainable,” she said.

But Tate says changes could also could affect the community, where firefighters will have to work until the age of 70 to make up the difference -- a claim the city disputes, saying instead that some firefighters will have to work up to five years.

“Nobody’s going to take the beating that this job does and not have a decent retirement when you’re done,” Tate said.

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