Phoenix firefighters encourage voters to vote no on Prop. 487

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- The battle over Proposition 487 has been one of the most hotly contested and deals with pension reform and ending pension spiking for Phoenix city workers. But opponents believe it will hurt police and firefighters.

Firefighters and other public safety workers were going door to door in north Phoenix on Wednesday evening, trying to get registered voters to say no on Prop. 487.

"We removed [pension spiking] at the bargaining table by agreement with the city," said Phoenix firefighter P.J. Dean. "Pension spiking no longer exists. One of their primary claims of Prop. 487 is that it would eliminate pension spiking and in realty pension spiking has already been eliminated."

Opponents to Prop. 487 believe it would eliminate pension benefits for police and firefighters, including on-duty death and disability benefits.

"That's what protects our families if someone dies in the line of duty," Dean said.

However, 487 supporters believe the proposition is simply a way to reign in out-of-control pension costs and would save the city of Phoenix $400 million over the next 20 years. And 487 backers say police and fire won't be affected because their benefits, unlike other city workers, are protected by state statute.

"I would say they're being savvy politicians and they're telling voters something that they know will probably cost the initiative that needs to pass some votes," said Vice Mayor Jim Waring.

Waring said he believes pension spiking is still an issue despite recent city contract negotiations to end the practice. 

"This will definitively end pension spiking," he said.

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