Features, Finance, Health and Safety, Municipal Government, New York

Public Employee Pensions Under Attack

July 5, 2020

By Jay Warshofsky, Organization of Staff Analysts and NYCMEA

New York public servants are members of one of the eight public employee pension systems in the State and City.  Approximately 700,000 active employees are contributing to their future pensions. Approximately 500,000 members and survivors collect Defined Benefits Pensions. We are protected by the NYS constitution – current pension benefits are the state and city’s first payment obligation. State constitutional protections are not absolute, however, as seen when Detroit’s bankruptcy filing in federal court negated Michigan’s state constitutional protections.

Pensions are negotiated deferrals in lieu of a portion of salary levels. As public servants we accept lower lifetime salaries with the expectation that we will be secure and productive citizens after we complete our careers.

 New York State and City  pension funds were robust until the business tsunami caused by the COVID-19 pandemic created massive budget disruptions in the most populous, urban-centric states and municipalities.  NYS had among the highest number of COVID-19 cases so why isn’t the US Senate and the President prepared to be as generous with the hardest hit states and localities as it has been with subsidizing large corporate interests with little or no harm from COVID-19?  

The President and Republican-controlled Senate praise the heroic first responders and law enforcement but do not want to preserve their pensions or current salaries. They also are not addressing the millions of Americans with Defined Contribution Pensions who are also at risk of losing their resources for their hard-earned retirements.  Learning from the two unfair bailouts of the housing/financial crises over the past 20 years, we don’t want to see a repeat of Wall Street getting bailed out while average Americans are sold out.

The Council of Municipal Retiree Organizations’ primary purpose is the advancement of the common interests of present and future retirees of agencies of the City of New York. These interests include the protection and enhancements of pensions and health benefits and federal, state, or municipal policies or budgets that will impact retirees including cuts to the social safety net.  

July 5, 2020

ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Public Employee Pensions Under Attack”

  1. Howard says:

    Wall Street bailout, aka TARP (Toxic Asset Relief Fund) was repaid in full negating tax payers to repay said (federal) bailout. Will STATE public servants who are receiving a STATE pension regardless the nature of said pension guarantee to repay the bailout should said STATE default?
    As to other private companies who received federal taxpayer dollars (defined as current or future federal revenues from federal taxes), some form of collateral was imposed as a condition for receiving said federal bailout. What form of collateral will the STATE &/or said State pensioners offer should a default occur?
    The reality is covid-19, most simply stated, accelerated the non-sustainability of several STATE pension funds — more funds are flowing out as opposed to into said STATE fund. There is simply “not enough paper to wrap around the gift.”

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