White Plains Mayor Tom Roach said last week he would meet with retired city firefighters who are seeking to no longer be required to pay a portion of their health insurance.
Several retired firefighters came to the July 1 Common Council meeting to express their concerns about the health insurance payment requirement.
Ed Lobermann said he was representing himself and more than 100 other retired firefighters. Lobermann said in 1970 the city agreed to pay all of the retired firefighter’s health insurance premiums in retirement and the policy continued until nine years ago.
Lobermann said at the Citizens to be Heard portion of last week’s meeting he and other retired firefighters came to the June 3 Common Council meeting to request a meeting with the mayor, but he had not heard of a date when that would take place.
“As the mayor and Council are aware, at every meeting we had with the mayor and Council and at the public comment periods for the past eight months, our position has been that though the city had a legal right to require our retirees to pay a portion of the health insurance premium because of the alleged financial crises in 2010, it is the moral aspect we are addressing,” Lobermann said. “In 2015 you restored this benefit to the paid firefighters but not to the retired firefighters.”
“We want to work with the city,” Lobermann said. “I firmly believe there is a reasonable approach that would be fair to the taxpayer and fair to the retired firefighters. To do this there must be dialogue.”
Roach told Lobermann he was willing to have discussions with the retired firefighters. “I have met. I’m happy to meet with you again,” Roach said.
“That’s great,” Lobermann replied.
William McGovern, president of the White Plains Retired Uniformed Fire Fighters Association, who was a firefighter for 40 years, said, “These retirees had no warning” when they were working that they would be required to pay part of their health insurance costs, McGovern said, adding the retired firefighters live on limited income.
Because they are retired, the former firefighters have no collective bargaining rights, McGovern said.
Requiring retired firefighters pay a portion of their health insurance is “a serious moral issue,” McGovern said.