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Administration Wants Changes to Pension Program for New Hires

The Nutter administration says that tomorrow they will transmit legislation to City Council that would change the city pension plan for any new city workers.

Managing Director Camille Barnett said the proposed plan would combine a traditional pension -- at a lower benefit than current employees receive -- with a 401K plan that workers pay into. New hires who want more than the pension offering could sign up for the 401K plan and the city would provide matching funds.

Because tomorrow is the final council session of the season, the bill could not recieve final passage until fall. But if it were to pass, any workers hired after July 1 would be retroactively subject to the terms, Barnett said.

Finance Director Rob Dubow said the plan would save the city $500 million over 30 years. "This is a financial move to ensure the health of our pension fund," he said.

The city is sending the legislation to Council just two weeks before labor contracts for the four municipal unions expire. According to the city, pension terms are set both through city ordinances and collective bargaining agreements. The police and fire contracts will be settled through arbitration, while the two non-uniform worker contracts must be negotiated.

Barnett said the legislation shouldn't be viewed as a message to the unions as contracts are negotiated. "The motivation is to bring the changes to the [pension program,]" she said.