In 1982, I made a deal that would affect the rest of my life. It would affect my wife and children, who weren't even around yet.
For the annual salary of $13,700, I would work 24 hours on and 48 hours off. I would work an average of 56 hours a week. For this grand sum, I would rush into burning buildings. I would tend to people in every kind of sickness, disease and trauma. I've breathed stuff that was bad for me, and I've seen co-workers injured, even killed, at work. I've seen things cut off of and things stuck into any body part you can imagine. I've had every kind of bodily fluid leaked, sprayed and spit onto me.
I've carried people of every size, shape and color from every kind of house, yard, country road and interstate and from the middle of nowhere to every hospital in Lexington. I've birthed a few babies, but seen a lot more people leave this world.
I've cried and laughed and struggled to be nice to every kind of person you can imagine. There are a few people alive today because of me, but there are a lot more who are not despite everything I could do.
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But that was part of the deal.
The deal also included what my employer promised me. It would take 11 percent of each paycheck and put it into a fund with my employer's contribution. When I retired, I would be able to draw a retirement check.
I kept my part of the deal. My employer did not.
My employer promised me it would match a percentage of my salary for my retirement. It did not. My employer spent that money on things I considered frivolous, but that was not up to me.
I'm a retired Lexington firefighter. This is my story. You can change it a little bit, if you want, to be a police officer's story, but the deal is the same.
The Herald-Leader doesn't seem to like my deal. Some politicians are trying to make you feel as if I've done something wrong. They talk about how my deal is going to bankrupt the city. I didn't negotiate the deal. It was offered to me.
I don't want to bankrupt the city. I just want my deal. The one I'm counting on. I don't get Social Security. Is my pension going to be there? Will the Urban County Government keep its part of the deal?
Now the Herald-Leader says that Sen. Tom Buford and Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr are trying to give me an "extra" benefit. How is this extra? I've had it for 10 years. I counted on it when I retired. That is, until Mayor Jim Gray took it away.
Exactly, what did we, the faithful retired police officers and firefighters of Lexington, do wrong, other than trust our employer?
In a 30-year period, the government has correctly funded my pension only three times. All three times were the result of litigation forcing the city to pay the correct amount.
It's time to honor the deal. If you don't like it, then change it for new employees. But please stop blaming us. We did nothing wrong. We just did our jobs.