UPDATED JANUARY 22, 2017
To update all of you that the 2nd phase of the Massachusetts Communications Supervisors Association bill filing is now complete. Senator James Timilty of the Bristol/Norfolk District has filed SD.867 “An act relative to Massachusetts certified emergency communications” with the 190th session of the Massachusetts Legislature.
This second bill is required so the debate can begin on both sides of Beacon Hill. We fully anticipate at a later date that these bills will be merged into one comprehensive, all encompassing piece of retirement legislation.
With this newly filed legislation we now need all of you to reach out to your State Senators and urge them to co-sponsor SD.867. This new development is not intended to stop all of you from contacting your State Representatives on behalf of HD.215 but rather to ask you to contact your State Senators in addition to your Representatives.We ask once again that if you have ANY questions, comments or concerns that you please reach out to the retirement committee by email at firstname.lastname@example.org . It is vital that we ALL are on the same page and rumors or misinformation are not being given out to the masses. We MUST show a unified front on this matter or Beacon Hill will never move our agenda forward.
UPDATED JANUARY 10, 2017
New Dispatcher Retirement Legislation to be in filed on Beacon Hill
The Massachusetts Communications Supervisors Association is happy to announce that we have confirmed Representative Todd Smola-R of the 1st Hampden District has filed new legislation relative to dispatcher retirement “An Act Relative to Massachusetts Certified Emergency Telecommunicators” with the 190th session of the Massachusetts Legislature.
The goal of this critical new piece of legislation is to ensure that the public safety dispatch community is moved from Group 1 to Group 2 retirement status.
MCSA has been working tirelessly on this effort for many years and thanks to the efforts of all of our members and Telecommunicators across the Commonwealth we were able to made great headway in the last Legislative session. The new Legislative session is now under way. The MCSA Retirement committee has ensured that our new bill has been filed on time so that the first requirements in hoping to see this bill become law are met.
As part of this new piece of Legislation we are reaching out to you, our members and fellow public safety colleagues for assistance in the early stages of this process.
We need all of you to contact your State Representatives and request them to sign onto HD215 as Co-Sponsors. The time frame to Co-Sponsor this bill is limited and closes on February 3, 2017. If you receive and push back from your State Reps office please email the retirement committee (email@example.com) so that we can meet with that member on a more formal basis.
Make no mistake; this will be a long and difficult process and not a guarantee! This legislation will not pass if we don’t have YOU involved. The time to act is NOW and your support is critical early on! We urge you to contact your Representatives on Beacon Hill and gain their support for this legislation. The more co-sponsors we have for this bill the better the chances we have for getting it passed in the new legislative session.
Again the time to act is NOW! Contact your Representatives and get them to commit to co-signing this bill. Spread the word among your co-workers and Union Representatives, have them make calls as well and show their support for this critical legislation. The more calls the louder our voice is heard and the more our movement grows, to finally get Emergency Telecommunicators reclassified under Group 2 retirement.
If you have any questions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
MCSA Legislative Retirement Committee
UPDATED JUNE 6 2016
“MCSA continues to closely monitor multiple bills in both the House and Senate that effect dispatcher retirement in the Commonwealth. Members of the retirement committee have had multiple meetings with elected officials on Beacon Hill and in local offices.
H2415 currently sits before the committee on bills in 3rd reading. While getting the bill to this level is a major accomplishment, the bill still has major hurdles to overcome before reaching the Governors desk. We would encourage our members to continue to reach out to their local representatives to gain their support on H2415. Members should work to have there local representative write letters of support for H2415 to the chairman of the committee on bills in third reading (Rep. Speliotis) and ask for the bill to be released from committee with a favorable report in a timely manner. The more support we can get from members of the House on behalf of their constituents the better the chances are this bill will continue to move forward.
Likewise S2046 currently sits before the Senate committee on ways and means. We would encourage our members to take the same actions they would on H2415.
It is important to note that membership of MCSA, the executive board members and the members of the retirement committee fully support both of these bills. While we would like to see more comprehensive language that includes ALL dispatchers into group 2 retirement in future bills we will continue to work to support and hopefully see the passage of the current bills before the legislature.”
Friday January 29, 2016 MCSA organized a meeting with Ma State Representative Todd Smola to discuss Dispatcher retirement and newly created SB2046.
On November 5,2015 Joint Committee on Public Safety referred to SB1442 while creating SB2046 (s1442 revised) . This bill has been forwarded to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. This bill requests Ma State 911 develop recommendations for statewide training and certification programs for PSAPs, among other tasks and report no later than January 6, 2017 to Senate Ways and Means Committee.
On September 8, 2015 testimony was heard on the state house floor in support of House Bill 2415 and Senate Bill 1442 . Testimony in support was provided by Chris Campbell MCSA President and Seeknonk Communications, Donald Hancock MCSA Vice President and Billerica Police Communications. Also providing supportive testimony was NEPBA Legislative Rep. Paul Larkham among many others.
October 26, 2011 PERAC MEMORANDUM #30 regarding shift substitution, creditable service and regular compensation.
April 8, 2011 PERAC letter to Essex County Retirement Board regarding Group 2.
April 1, 2011 DALA rules against Patricia Graney and Public Safety Dispatch Supervisors in Group 2.
Dec 2009 Andover Retirement Board Finding of Group 2 for Public Safety Dispatchers (and approval by PERAC).
1. Document Set 1 1 MB file (Memo from Andover Retirement Board to Andover Dispatchers (12/1/09), Letter from Attorney Quirk to Andover Retirement Board (11/6/09), PERAC Letter to Quirk Approving Supplementary Rule (11/3/09)).
2. Document Set 2 4 MB file, be patient (Quirk Letter to Andover Retirement Board (5/13/09), Quirk Letter to PERAC (8/14/09), Minutes of Andover Retirement Board for May 28 2009, Andover Retirement Board Supplementary Rule, Report of Hearing Officer (5/13/09))
3. Andover Hearing Officer Report May 2009: Must reading for persons interested in dispatchers retirement group status.
June 2009: General Update on MCSA’s efforts to promote Group 2 classifications among all public safety dispatchers performing the duties of Fire and Police Signal Operators:
In March 2009, MCSA has hired retirement attorney Nick Poser to help us on the group 2 struggle.
Law office of Nicholas Poser
197 Portland Street, 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02114
Attorney Poser is a member of the Massachusetts Association of Public Pension Attorneys association (http://mappaweb.lowellarea.com/index.html) and is well-versed in Mass. retirement law. One aspect of Nick’s work is to rebut the findings of Raposa that claim that signal operators must perform the work of signal maintainers to be in Group 2. As we know, Signal Operators do not now – nor never did – perform the duties of Signal Maintainers. Signal maintainers pull fire alarm and police box cable in underground dsuctwork and on poles, and maintain boxes, box circuits and box-related electrical and other panels. Signal Operators sit in dispatch centers and fire alarm offices and receive signals as well as perform a wide variety of dispatching functions.
August 2007: MCSA Invited to testify at Oct 11 or 18 hearing at 10:30 AM in State House Room B-2 on Senate S1662. Read Letter from Joint Committee on Public Service to our bill’s sponsor, Senator Tolman.
The letter requires that any group classification bill must first meet a set of criteria to be considered for a favorable recommendation. Please read the criteria and be prepared to contribute to our written presentation including a description of financial impact.
June 2007: Tim Bassett, Executive Director of Essex County’s Retirement Board spoke to the MCSA June 2006 meeting.
The Essex County Retirement Board’s Actuary determined that the financial impact of Group 2 for all 911 Dispatchers in the 19 towns they cover would amount to less than $33,000 per year for ALL towns. They thus passed a rule saying that if a town titled their dispatchers as Fire and/or Police Signal Operators they would be eligible for Group 2 benefits. They then added the $33,000 to the total assessment to all towns and assessed an amount – on a pro-rated bases – to each towns. The largest town is being assessed about $5,000/yr; the smallest $70/yr. (yes, that is correct, only $70 per year). This is a very minimal financial impact relative to the benefit. Contact Anne Marie Cullen at Hamilton-Wenham about Essex County’s actions.
June 2007: Senate 1603 refiled in 2007; don’t count on passage immediately. Current Best Strategy: recommended by Legislative Committee members to MCSA:
- Get your town/city/county CEO to re-title your various dispatcher titles (Emergency Telecommunications Dispatcher, Emergency Dispatcher, Dispatcher, Police Dispatcher, Fire Dispatcher, Public Safety Dispatcher, etc.) all to the Fire and Police Signal Operator series that was our original title: “Fire and Police Signal Operator I” (plus “Fire and Police Signal Operator II” and “Fire and Police Signal Operator III” if you have different levels of 911 center personnel). Small centers with only 4-5 911 Dispatchers would choose only the “Fire and Police Signal Operator 1” Title whereas larger centers with head dispatchers, working supervisors, and even a chief dispatcher would submit 2 or 3 titles. Sample Job Descriptions available in Word here (pick one and modify):
- All titles assume that the person does 911 Dispatch duties as well as any supervisory duties. This does NOT cover clerical or administrative positions as these are the first, first responders that directly handle all emergencies in the state.
- Then submit any approved Titles with Job Descriptions to your Retirement Board for approval as a Group 2 title.
To do this, you will need to rewrite the Job Description with the new title at the top, convince your local Personnel and Town Administrator of the need for this change, and then get the approval of your Retirement Board. It would be very helpful to present documentation of the financial impact to both your town and the retirement board.
August-06: Full Report of the Blue Ribbon Panel. This far-ranging report is critical reading for 911 Dispatchers interested in their prospects for retirement in Massachusetts. No conclusion was reached by the Panel with respect to the specific issue of 911 Dispatcher retirement, except:
- they explicitly recognized the unfairness in having dispatchers with different titles who sit side-by-side in the same dispatch center and perform the exact same duties be in different retirement groups.
- they said “Employees in highly stressful jobs, such as social workers or 911 dispatchers, should have paths to move to less demanding positions within the public or private sector when exhausted by their current jobs.
- they made many broad-reaching recommendations for reform which are in the first 5 pages of the Report 9in the Executive Summary).
4-12-06: MCSA members met with Senator Patricia Jehlen, Senate Chair of the Public Service Committee (and her staff liaison to the committee, Bettina Fast). We explained Senate 1603, the history of “Signal Operators” in Group 2, and the current request from the PERAC full Commission to the Legislature to resolve the inequity of some dispatchers being in Group 2 and others in Group 1. She said the Blue Ribbon Commission was dealing with all retirement bills from many deserving groups including ours and their recommendations were due by June-July. They are dealing with many global issues (the retirement system in general, COLA’s, etc.), so it is unclear how particular requests of dispatchers can best be addressed. Their goal is to “make recommendations on how to ensure that the Commonwealth has a fair, efficient, equitable, and sustainable public retirement system moving forward”. We will stay tuned and attend the public hearing on May 10.
2-16-06: FLASH: Senate 1603 sent to a “Blue Ribbon Commission” established by the Legislature. Details to follow as they become available. Early word has a 9-member Commission with 3-4 academics including Ellen Bruce of UMass (expert on public policy related to aging and pensions), Elizabeth Keating of Harvard’s Kennedy School (public policy expert), Pete Diamond of MIT (public finance economist), Alicia Munnell (BC Business School Finance expert), Joe Connarton (PERAC Exec. Director), Scott Harshbarger (former AG and former director of Common Cause), Alan G. Macdonald (Exec Director of Mass. Business Roundtable) and Jay Kaufman and Patricia Jehlen (co-chairs of the Legislature’s Public Service Committee). This is not your average study committee… What does this mean for Senate 1603 and dispatcher retirement; we do not know.
11-3-05: New Senate Chair of Public Service Committee: Patricia Jehlen of Second Middlesex (Medford, Somerville, Winchester, and 1 ward in Woburn). She joins Rep Jay Kaufman, the House Chair, in joint leadership of the committee.
9-21-05: Joint Public Service Committee hearing occurred on Senate 1603: Thursday Sept 29, 2005, 10:30 AM, Room B1. Over 30 uniformed dispatchers and dispatch supervisors were present. Leslie Carroll (MCSA Pres), George Fosque (MCSA VP), Fire Chief Rivard, Sgt. Jim Machado (MPA, Fall River PD, and PERAC Commissioner), and Dispatcher Anne Ponticelli all spoke as a panel in support of the bill.
List of legislators and towns represented on Public Service Committee. See Legislative Strategy page by clicking link to the left.
MCSA is leading the effort to achieve equitable retirement benefits for public safety dispatchers in Massachusetts. The key to these efforts is Senate Bill 1603 which will clarify that all (not just some) dispatchers are in Retirement “Group 2”; a group they were originally placed in by the legislature in 1968 under the old-fashioned title of “Fire or Police Signal Operator”. Currently, it is estimated that over 30 towns and cities extend Group 2 treatment to their fire and/or police dispatchers. The fact that some towns have given modern titles to their police and fire signal operators (as well as much increased duties and responsibilities) should not cancel their Group 2 classification.
The Massachusetts Public Safety Dispatcher community is organizing around this bill in 5 regions (see Regional Coordinators Page). Passage means that eligible dispatchers and dispatch supervisors in ALL PSAPs and fire dispatch centers with 32 years of experience can retire at maximum benefits at 60 years of age and not 65 years of age.
A. Raising Funds to support the passage of the bill (legal and advocacy expenses).
Send checks to “MCSA Dispatcher Support Fund” 1600 North Street, Windsor, MA. 01270.
MCSA pledges that all funds will be carefully used to support dispatchers and dispatch supervisors benefits improvement efforts through legal assistance and professional advocacy assistance.
Fund raising ideas
B. Organizing to Educate Legislators on the importance of 911 Dispatchers and the need for the bill to insure equity and to assist in improving the 911 Dispatcher career. Timeline:
The bill will have a hearing in October/Nov 2005 with the Joint Senate-House Public Service Committee.
If reported favorably, it will need to go to Ways and Means to review its financial impact and be reported out favorably.
Senate and House Leadership need to support the bill throughout.
The Governor then needs to approve the bill.
The MCSA is coordinating this legislative effort to insure that the campaign is conducted in a professional and bipartisan manner.