Apr 16, 2015

Senate Plan for ERIP Passes

The Massachusetts Senate has voted to pass its version of an early retirement incentive program (ERIP) for employees in the Executive Branch. The bill will now go to conference committee, where senators and representatives will work out the differences between this bill and the proposal from Governor Charlie Baker that was approved by the House last month.

NAGE offered an amendment that would have expanded the ERIP to state employees outside the Executive Branch, reminding senators that a similar provision was key to the success of the Commonwealth’s last ERIP, over a decade ago. NAGE National President David J. Holway commented, “Opening up the ERIP beyond the Executive Branch is not only fairer to eligible state employees, but fairer to those who stay on the job and the people they serve.” Holway added, “I am disappointed that the amendment didn’t pass, it was a no brainer for the legislature.” An ERIP with such a limited focus runs the risk of leaving disproportionate shortages in certain departments with lots of early retirements. Disproportionate worker shortages will harm the employees who have to increase their workloads, and could impact the people who depend on those departments for vital services.

Sen. Mike Rush (D-West Roxbury) sponsored the amendment; Sen. John Keenan (D-Quincy) co-sponsored the amendment and both were outspoken on NAGE’s issues during debate. The NAGE amendment was one of only a few amendments to be discussed on the Senate floor. Unfortunately, the Senate did not approve the amendment, but NAGE thanks Senators Rush and Keenan for standing up engaging with NAGE on this issue.

What happens next:

House and Senate leaders will appoint members to a conference committee, which will work on a compromise version of the ERIP bill. The conference committee will report its version of the bill to the legislature and, if passed, will go to the governor’s desk for signature. When an ERIP becomes law, management in your department should receive the necessary information to help you with early retirement applications if you are eligible.

We expect that the conference committee will be appointed and begin work on the bill quickly, but we can’t tell you when the ERIP will begin until the bill is passed. We’ll update you on NAGE.org as news becomes available. 

Where trade unions are most firmly organized, there are the rights of the people most respected. - Samuel Gompers
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