On the attack against ‘tacking’

Fulop wants to stop lifetime health benefits for select group of city employees

When Jersey City government employees retire from their jobs after 25 years of service, they have been able to get lifetime health benefits. But the little-known fact is that employees who have actually worked for the city for only a short time but have accumulated 25 years of government experience in other municipalities also get those benefits.
Now City Councilman Steven Fulop wants to put an immediate stop to that practice, known as “tacking.”
Late last month Fulop tried to amend a council resolution addressing the shifting of healthcare benefits from a traditional plan to a newer plan which would require all retirees to have at least 25 years of accredited service with the city without any exceptions. The resolution was withdrawn to incorporate the language Fulop was pushing for. At the Oct. 13 council meeting Fulop had his amendment resolution placed on the council agenda but again it was withdrawn.


“They should support this change as it will save money and it is the right thing to do.” – Steven Fulop

Fulop said last week the resolution will be reintroduced by the council as an ordinance at the next council meeting for this Wednesday. The meeting will be held at City Hall, 280 Grove St., at 6 p.m.
Fulop said although he will not be able to stop those who already benefit, he wants to make sure that the “tacking” process ends with new employees. He cited as a “blatant” example of who benefits from “tacking” is business administrator John “Jack” Kelly, who worked for the city of Orange for 21 years before he was hired for his current position in May. If Kelly puts in another four years, he will qualify for lifetime benefits because he was hired before any change in the regulations.
He hopes that his council colleagues will support the pending ordinance.
“They should support this change as it will save money and it is the right thing to do,” Fulop said.
Mayor Jerramiah Healy said he supports the idea of requiring employees to have 10 years of service with the City included with their 25 years of overall public service to qualify for lifetime health benefits. However, he does not believe in the 25 years of service only with the city as it “might preclude the city” from hiring employees from other municipalities with expertise for various positions.

Taking a different tack

While looking forward to new legislation, Fulop is not completely confident that it will be received warmly by the council.
Fulop said at the last council meeting, his amendment resolution was pulled because there was disagreement by some council members who were concerned that it will impact on retirees and employees close to retirement.
He also said he has not gotten a lot of cooperation from the city when he asked for information on how many retirees have already benefited from “tacking” while doing his research on the subject.
“This is what I have learned, as of July 1, there are 1,985 retirees [receiving benefits]. As far as which of them actually worked for JC for 25 years, the city is having a hard time tracking it for me which is even more disturbing,” Fulop said. “At an initial glance it is easy to find quite a few that have received this whether it be fire police transfers or overall employee transfers.”
Fulop continued, “This is benefits for these people for their lives and their families, and it is costly for years and years.”
If there is an upside to Fulop’s pursuit, it’s that he has gotten support of at least one city employee
Chuck Carol, head of Local 246 of the Municipal Employees Union, which represents over 640 full-time administrative employees, and a 33-year city employee. Carol said he believes the “tacking” policy should be stopped.
“It is patently unfair to people like myself and others,” Carol said. “Why should we pay Mr. Kelly’s pension after he has been here for only a few years?”
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at rkaulessar@hudsonreporter.com.

© 2000, Newspaper Media Group