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Labor attorney negotiating new PBA contract, not Village of Ridgewood Manager


file photo by Boyd Loving
November 27,2015
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

The Ridgewood Blog just received this information –

Ridgewood NJ, In a departure of past practice, Village Council members have hired Mark Ruderman, Esq. and the firm of Ruderman and Glickman to negotiate a contract between the Village of Ridgewood and members of Ridgewood Policeman’s Benevolent Assocation (PBA) Local 20.  Village Council members authorized the hiring of Mr. Ruderman and his firm under a no-bid contract, expiring on June 30, 2016, for an amount not to exceed $75,000; this was done via Resolution 15-182, passed on June 24, 2015.

For as many years as those who have been around for many years can remember, the PBA contract was always negotiated by the Village Manager, with labor attorney review only after the contract terms were accepted by both parties.  The staff of The Ridgewood Blog wondered why the sudden change, and why Mr. Ruderman.  Then we ran across this article:

So in a nutshell, Mr. Ruderman was successful in forcing the Tenafly PBA into arbitration, which resulted in a 3-year no raise contract, and a scaled back pay system that forces their members to work longer before reaching maximum pay.  What the news article didn’t say was that Mr. Ruderman charged Tenafly $225,000 for his legal/negotiation services.  Although the Ridgewood contract has a cap of $75,000, the cap expires on June 30, 2016.  If terms are not reached by then, an opportunity may exist for Mr. Ruderman to either achieve or exceed his Tenafly payout.

The hiring of Mr. Ruderman begs the staff of The Ridgewood Blog to ask what role, if any, Village Manager Roberta Sonenfeld and Director of Human Resources Sharyn Matthews are playing in the PBA negotiations, particularly since each of their roles include labor negotiations as a responsibility.

Bottom line – Why are taxpayers shelling out $92,000 a year in salary plus benefits for an HR Director who can’t negotiate?  And then another $75,000 for someone who can?  Good grief Charlie Brown!

82 thoughts on “Labor attorney negotiating new PBA contract, not Village of Ridgewood Manager

  1. no more back door deal’s like in the past. right bro’s,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,sssssss.

  2. To 858 hr 78 took effect well before the end of the current cba the cops and the fd paid 1.5 %increase more into their pensions, from 8.5 to 10%, also realized a 5% reduction in pension payout maximum from70% to 65% for those not grandfathered, and there is no reason for givebacks through negotiations as the legislature took back what it wanted without any negotiations. So with the regulations as they are the workers are starting out behind already , why should they acquiesce to a lower standard of compensation so you can pay a little less tax, the cops and fire are under siege from the state legislature as well as the locals. The state also restructure the state health benefits place and did away with comprehensive Cadillac plans, er
    although they still enjoy good coverage they should not be made to bear the brunt of reductions without the vendors sharing in the pain. Healthcare as it is applied to the public worker should be administered as a public utility, and the vendors have to go before the board to justify a rate hike.

  3. The rest of the town is paying for health benefits. well then the police should too. If any thing they should be paying more , they make more then any one god come on.

  4. the cops were paying into their health benefits long before any state legislative movement the cops were also taking days off without pay since (2010 or 2011 not sure which). They were called furlough days.

  5. If the Council decided to close down the fire dept that can be done by them, it’s a luxury not a mandated requirement

  6. 10:09, your RPD health benefit is no good? Have you even bothered comparing it to what’s available on Obamacare health exchanges or private sector employer plans? You have what’s called a “Platinum Plan” under the ACA definition, where 94-96% of the actuarial value of any medical care is covered. It’s worth over $26,000 a year. Taxpayers will pay a 40% exise tax on such plans from 2018. No one in the private sector has such plans unless they pay a premium out of pocket. And you don’t want to contribute any more to the cost for that? My god, come on. The cops here make more on average than the median household in Ridgewood, but you can’t afford it?

  7. 10:37, you call $480 a year in family plan premiums and $15 co-pays “paying for health care”? Those plans are worth well over $25k in divorce court proceedings, so who do you think is picking up the rest of the premium and annual increases every year? You cops can pay your fair share and stop burdening the rest of us.

  8. The bro’s are not happy with this,

  9. what is the top pay of an cop after they reach top steep, $

  10. Here’s the health care benefit deal these cops get today: $15 co-pay for doctor’s visits, $10 co-pay for branded drugs, no limitations on switching plan providers based on pre-existing conditions. For this, the Village has only deducted a maximum of $480 per year per employee since January 2010, and that is not retroactive to retirees prior to 2010. Until the 3/1/01 change to the NJ State Health Benefits Program, comprehensive health insurance under the Ridgewood Plan was offered at no charge to employees. The current collective bargaining agreement was re-opened in 2010, so the changes in health benefit contribution rates under Ch.78, PL 11 have yet to apply to RPD employees under the existing PBA contract that was in effect when the law changed from July 2011. How much has that cost Village taxpayers? Well, for family coverage or its equivalent under the 2011 law, an employee who earns $110,000 or more should be paying 35% of the cost of coverage, i.e, $8,750 per year. So for the past five years, the Village has subsidized health coverage for the RPD by over $1.6 million versus what they should have been paying. Group health insurance is up $350K (+10% year on year) just in 2015/16 as part of the current Village budget, in addition Police direct salaries & wages up +$400K. It’s a good thing we have a tough lawyer representing taxpayers for the new contract given this is perhaps the most expensive Police CBA on a per employee basis in the entire country, i.e. our cops are the best paid police force in the USA.

  11. In July of 2011 the cops also started paying an additional 1.5 %into their pensions fromm8,5% to 10% and those that were not grandfathered receive a 60% pension after 25 yrs. and 65 % if they stay 30yrs ,the formula was also changed to an average of the last 3 yrs. not the last year of service.

  12. I herd that we have 20,000state workers will leave the job in 2015. wow.

  13. Thanks 4:04, it’s a good start to get to 10% contributions towards your own pension as part of 2011 reforms. But do the math: a guy with 20 years service in 2010 who got grandfathered in at 65% of final comp for pension calculation will retire this year having contributed 10% for a full year only since 2012. So four years of 10%. Let’s say they earned $135,000 a year on average their last four years. That means they contributed $13,500 X four years (only $54,000) towards their own pension which will pay them $81,000 a year until they die assuming 65% of $135K. Assuming the employee retires at 52 and lives to 80, they’ll draw that pension for 28 years vs only 25 years of service. $81,000 X 28 years = $2.3 million. No one except public pensioners get a deal like that anymore. It’s very expensive, and it’s not sustainable based on current funds. So either contribute more when you’re working or diminish the benefits, you cannot just keep forever raising tax rates when NJ already has the highest tax rates in the country.

  14. So we have the most expensive cops in the country already and they want to bill us more – Cha-Ching!

  15. a good deal but until the politicians started raiding the pension fund it was well over 100% funded, the main reason its not over 100% funded anymore is politicians started raiding it to give rebate checks to the property owners. You stats don’t state the facts that cops and firemen don’t live as long as their counter parts in the private sector so they don’t collect as long as others do. The pfrs is in no danger of bankruptcy and most people who begrudge the cops and fire their pensions are usually miserably jealous, money misers who count money in other peoples instead of making their own situation better.

    1. hey union money gets them elected , maybe some of the PAC money can be used to fill the void in the pension fund

  16. James the fund just needs what was taken from it to be paid back and it will be fine.

  17. 10:41, I hear your point about the pension underfunding, but where should the money come from? I’ve never seen a rebate check for my property taxes paid. Furthermore, your comment that “cops and firemen don’t live as long as their counter parts in the private sector so they don’t collect as long as others do” may be true (have you got data?), but “others” in the private sector no longer get pensions in the first place so your whole premise is based on a misunderstanding of the deal PFRS members get – which is very, very generous – versus the deal offered in the private sector. You also fail to recognize that the whole social contract of security in retirement for public service has broken down when the average cop’s salary in Ridgewood is higher than the median household income for the Village, and they still get the big benefit package largely funded by taxpayers on top of that. I’m glad we have a tough lawyer negotiating for the Village – hopefully tax payers get better representation than we had in 2009/10.

  18. I’ve never seen a rebate check. And where will these funds to be “paid back” come from? Could it be also that the “good deal” mentioned above is just too good and needs to be diminished? Maybe +4% annual wage increases for the past 6 years which also drives the average comp in the last three years of service for the pension benefit, as well as health benefit coverage for only $480 a year, and only 10% contributions towards a pension for life in retirement at 65% or 60% of final comp for pension calculation are just too generous? Why is there no recognition of that?

  19. can some one tell me how much money the village spent in over time in the police budget.

  20. James, any updates here? How is the Village faring in negotiating itself out of the most expensive police CBA in the history of the United States? Any long-term thinking around reducing the size of the department now that Valley is leaving?

    1. lol keep talking silly BS , you really need to get out more and the FAC clearly needs to be closed down

  21. Why is that James? Because they might actually question why the Council wants permanent 3-4% annual municipal tax increases for “one-time” expenses? A volunteer committee might actually question 12% retroactive pay raises for the Village manager during a recession? Aren’t you at all concerned about the growth in your property tax bill James, and why the bulk of that tax increase over the past twenty years has gone to pay only for wage increases, pensions and healthcare for BoE, RPD and RFD employees, while other departments in the Village have been gutted? Maybe if Council members weren’t so arrogant to think they were experts on financial, labor contract and budget-related matters, we wouldn’t be in such a mess? As it is, the Village and BOE are broke unless we keep raising taxes to pay for contractual wage, pension and healthcare costs which just keep crowding out all other discretionary spending. Why wouldn’t the Council members want the non-binding advice of volunteer residents (and taxpayers) who are experts on these matters? Can you explain your logic there because it seems pretty fuzzy to me other than your blood thirst to exact political revenge?

    1. because you make stuff up does not make it true, try some evidence? , once again you prove the FAC is nothing more than the propaganda arm of Paul Aronsohn failed political ambitions and the losers who support him

  22. What a stupid attitude James, remind me again about evidence when the budget proposal comes out

    1. Valley brought all this on themselves with their divine arrogance, gross misjudgement and bad management and I am sure they will wear out their welcome in Paramus soon enough

  23. Agreed James, but that still leaves us in the lurch for the potential property taxes the Village should be collecting from Valley based on the Morristown precedent challenging their “not-for-profit” status. How do you replace those potential revenues?

  24. James isn’t worried about the growth in Ridgewood property tax bills.

    1. really where were you the last 40 years ?

  25. You show me your tax bill, I’ll show you mine…

    1. again you voted for it , votes have consequences

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