Social Worker To Gov. Scott: Have Mercy

Jackson Employee Named As Plaintiff In Lawsuit

MIAMI (CBS4) – Maggie Vancol Pena, wearing a red, “Save Jackson” T-shirt, sat on a bench at the hospital during her day off Tuesday and explained to CBS4 why she has put her name on a lawsuit challenging Governor Rick Scott.

The state has unilaterally imposed a three percent salary cut on workers who participate in the Florida pension plan. The salary savings will help pay for the workers’ pensions.

“Another three percent will definitely devastate the family,” Vancol Pena told CBS4’s Gary Nelson. “Have mercy. It seems like every time there is a crisis, it’s let’s go back to the public employees and take some of their paycheck.”

Vancol Pena is a social worker at Jackson, counseling the sick and their families and guiding them to various avenues of assistance. She currently works with patients struggling with HIV and AIDS.

The lawsuit challenging the pay cuts calls them a breach of contract and an unconstitutional taking of personal property. It was filed on behalf of hundreds of thousands of: teachers, police officers, firefighters, solid waste workers, nurses and other employees, but only eleven people are named plaintiffs.

Pena is among the eleven whose names appear in the lawsuit against Florida’s millionaire governor.

“It’s very hard, very hard, with the economy situation the way it is now, it’s very hard to make ends meet,” said Vancol Pena, a mother of two college-aged children.

She said she makes more than $50,000 a year, an income level reached only after 22 years at Jackson, and one that has dropped in recent years. Jackson employees gave up five percent of their pay this year to help keep the hospital afloat, and they have not had a cost of living increase in two years.

Governor Scott has scoffed at the lawsuit brought by Vancol Pena and her fellow state pensioners.

In a statement released Monday, the governor said, “Participation by people in their pension plan makes all the sense in the world…those who don’t work in government are required to pay into their retirement.”

Some taxpayers agreed with Scott Tuesday.

Adam Sierra, an auto service manager at a dealership in Doral, said he pays into a 401K retirement plan at work and public employees should help pay for their retirement, too.

“If they want it, they should contribute,” Sierra said. “If they don’t contribute, they shouldn’t receive it, just like anyone else.”

Public employees counter they generally make less than private sector workers, and their benefits help compensate for that disparity.

“We choose to be public employees because we want to be public servants. We don’t get the glamour that somebody in the private sector will get,” said Vancol Pena. “I’ve been a social worker, and I think I give more in love than I get back in money.”

The employees suing Governor Scott and the state pension system have asked the court to block the pay cuts while the lawsuit is being heard. Barring a restraining order, their paychecks will begin to shrink as of July 1st.

More from Gary Nelson
  • Me

    How can someone have mercy with no soul.

    • Indhy

      Well said! Rick Scott makes the devil feel intimidated… LOL

  • hp

    the person asking for mercy makes 50k a year. And to follow it up to say they choose the public sector over private, when you can make the argument the public one is just as rewarding. Also, some people just dont have a choice, its hard to find a private or public job. Given the times, they’ve no right to complain.

  • Dan

    50,000 dollars a year after 22 years of work is not a lot. My father is a computer tech for a private med company and he started out higher then that. Scott is just causing class warfare the more he takes aways from middle-lower class people the more resentment there will be for the haves and the have nots.
    Wouldn’t it be nice if school were fully funded and the Army had to hold bake sales to buy bombs.
    Americans rather buy bombs then books for their children

  • Everett Hill

    Businessman who takes the Fifth Amendment and uses proceeds from theft of taxpayer funded program to become the chief executive of Florida has no plans to show mercy. Maybe a federal Grand Jury can badger the people who got fines and other sanctions to snitch on him like they did Barry Bonds and we can get him indicted for fraud and RICO corruption. Politician with those kinds of references have no chance of showing mercy ever. Office bought and paid for with taxpayer money…what a plan!

  • Everett Hill

    Moderation can kiss my foot!

  • SOBE50


    Reducing the State of Florida’s contribution to State Employee’s Retirement Programs by 3% is not the REAL PROBLEM …

    The REAL PROBLEM is that the State is taking 3% of State Employees gross

    income to pay into the Retirement System …

    If the State wants to reduce it’s outlay of funds by reducing their Retirement contribution by 3% that is a reasonable response to the financial problems that the State is facing …

    However, taking 3% of the State Employees gross income from their salaries is NOT appropriate …

    The State workers 3% contribution to their Retirement should be OPTIONAL …

    In fact, the Retirement System should be redesigned so that the State matches the Retirement funds placed into 401Ks by the State employees …

    This would bring the State Retirement program in line with private industry …

    Developing a new 401K Retirement program is the only option that everyone can support as FAIR and appropriate …

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