Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled today his solution to the ongoing conflict over pension payouts to cops, firefighters, corrections officers and sanitation workers hurt on the job—but union leaders said they remain unsatisfied.
The mayor unveiled a $47 million proposed bill that would call for Albany to increase disability benefits of “uniformed” public employees hired after 2009 by changing the payment formula, boosting cost-of-living adjustments and ending the policy of subtracting the workers’ Social Security earnings from their pension checks.
“These brave public servants put their lives on the line each day to protect this city—and today we are letting them know: we are there for you too,” Mr. de Blasio said in a statement. “This bill will ensure every uniformed worker—especially those just starting out on the job—is protected by this city after a tragic injury.”
Up until six years ago, governors routinely signed legislation shielding NYPD, FDNY, Department of Corrections and Department of Sanitation workers from cuts made to disability payouts for civil servant in less hazardous fields—allowing them to receive 75 percent of their former salary.
But in response to the 2008 financial collapse, former Gov. David Paterson refused to sign off on the bill, leaving the workers getting just one-half of a three or five year average of their pay, deeply infuriating unions.
Mr. de Blasio had previously resisted calls from labor, and even from allies of like Public Advocate Letitia James, to push Albany to pay injured uniformed employees more. His new plan, however, would let the municipal workers receive either half the average salary or half the maximum salary for their position—minus overtime—depending on which figure is larger.
It would also revert to the older, more generous COLA calculation and stop counting Social Security income against workers’ disability benefits.
But Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, and his counterpart Stephen Cassidy of the Uniformed Firefighters Association complained that Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris called them only shortly before the plan was unveiled to discuss details. In a joint statement, they attacked the proposal as insufficient and unfair, charging that it leaves longer-serving uniformed public employees with better benefits that more recent hires.
“Based upon that brief, last-minute phone conversation, the plan is unacceptable and continues to create a second-class citizen status for FDNY firefighters and NYPD police officers, who risk their lives every day to keep New Yorkers safe,” the statement said. “Their plan leaves in place a two-tiered disability structure with some police officers and firefighters having adequate disability protections and others with inferior benefits.”
Mr. de Blasio’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.