Local 983 worker

A DIFFERENT KIND OF EXCLUDED WORKERS PROGRAM: While the state budget includes an early-retirement-incentive provision for city workers, which job titles will be eligible is at the discretion of Mayor de Blasio and city agency heads. District Council 37's Local 983 was among the unions pushing hardest for the incentive, but it's not known yet whether the High Pressure Plant Tenders it represents, who oversee the city's heating and cooling systems, will be eligible. 

Thousands of city employees may have the option to retire early while getting up to 36 months' additional pension credit under a provision included in the state's $212-billion budget that was approved April 6.

The Municipal Labor Committee since last summer had urged the de Blasio administration to consider an early-retirement incentive at a time when it was threatening up to 22,000 layoffs unless it got at least $1 billion in savings from the unions to close what then loomed as a $9-billion city budget gap caused by a drop in tax revenues caused by the impact of the coronavirus on the city's economy.

Unions Kept Pressing

The layoffs were avoided after many of the unions agreed to defer wages and fringe benefits that would have come due in the current fiscal year, which runs through June 30, producing $800 million in short-term savings for the city as it awaited relief from the Federal Government.

But even after the city's share of the American Rescue Plan that was approved by slim, all-Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress at President Biden's request, District Council 37 and the United Federation of Teachers pressed their case for an early-retirement incentive in Albany.  

The measure they obtained will not be extended to the city's uniformed workers, and Mayor de Blasio and municipal-agency heads have discretion as to which job titles will be offered the incentive, according to Brooklyn Assemblyman Peter Abbate, who chairs the Committee on Governmental Employees and was the bill’s prime sponsor.

“As an example, he [the Mayor] could say I don’t want to include Health + Hospitals right now because of COVID-19,” he said during an April 7 phone interview. “He has to also pick two dates now; a date for when city employees can start applying and a cutoff day."

How Credit is Computed

Mr. Abbate continued, “There are two parts; Part A is for those 55 years of age with 25 years of service in, and Part B—you get one month for each year you worked up until three years. You can only pick one of them, and it’s the city’s option who they want to offer it to.”

He expressed the hope that the incentive would provide relief for veteran front-line city workers “burned out” by the pandemic after falling ill with the virus. “Some of them really went through a lot and are just in fear of going back into the office,” he said.

More than 300 city workers died from COVID and thousands more were sidelined, some of whom are still convalescing.  

According to State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, chair of his house's Committee on Civil Service and Pensions, the  legislation was necessary “because the city is not out of the fiscal woods yet." If conditions worsened, reducing the payroll through additional retirements because of the incentive would help the city avoid laying off newer employees and “incentivize the next generation into staying with public service,” he said.

Money-Saver in Past

More than six months ago Republican City Council Member Joseph Borelli maintained the program had the potential to yield hundreds of millions of dollars in annual savings, citing a 2010 incentive authorized by then-Gov. David Paterson. He said more than 9,300 city and state workers took advantage, and even with the added pension costs, the net payroll savings of $680 million annually for the state and city made it a worthwhile program.

In a statement, Henry Garrido, the executive director of DC 37, said the retirement incentive was “not only fair, but also just” for the “unsung heroes of New York City” who kept the city’s “round-the-clock essential services” running throughout the pandemic.

United Probation Officers Association President Dalvanie Powell said, "Giving hardworking civil servants the option of an early retirement will help the city maintain essential services. reduce spending and do right by the workers who have bravely and selflessly served our community."

Joe Puleo, president of DC 37 Local 983, who pushed hard for the retirement incentive, said in a text message, “A lot of eligible members now feel they have taken control of their future.”

EMS Union: Why Not Us?

During an April 7 phone interview Anthony Almojera, vice president of DC 37 Local 3621, which represents Emergency Medical Service officers, protested the exclusion of that union's members based on their being considered uniformed workers.

“They want the best of both worlds,” he said of city officials. “They offer us a lower civilian wage package contractually, but then they say we are uniformed services for the purpose of denying us early retirement.”


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(22) comments

Dave_DMan

[beam]Great news for those that are eligible. Next steps are agency title inclusion verifications and filing date parameters . Hopefully the Thief will be a one stop information source [unsure].

Benzo

we worked 24/7 through the darkest hours of the pandemic and what does management do for us when they want to open back up for what is called the new "normal'? Take away our parking privileges that have been in place since 1984! got to love non union provisional employees always looking to get the edge anyway they can ...Lets hope they make this happen I have a Bird in my hand that's dying to fly ;)

ghomatas

This package should include MTA workers who are DC37 (formerly Local 375 and now 3652), have DC37 benefits, City Titles, members of NYCERS and joined through the former NYC Dept of Personnel (now DCAS) that was located at 49 Thomas Street in Manhattan. CSEA did not push for the passage for the NY State ERI bill so it was not passed as layoffs did not affect them. We should be included as its only fair that we are covered by NYCERS too.. How can we make it so?

twospirits

Contact the council members of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor and request that they convince the mayor to include your agency.

ghomatas

Problem is that we are not under the Mayor. We are under the Governor. My feeling is that somehow our agency Chairman needs to be convinced to adopt it. We feel that they forgot about us.

DMurrain

This plan should include uniformed workers, i.e.: CUNY-Public Safety. These are some of the hardest working employees in the city, yet the most unappreciated. As first responders these employees worked throughout the pandemic, resulting in many deaths.

WhiteSandyBeach

Something must have been left out of the news story, cuz Abbate's explanation of the incentive doesn't make sense: “There are two parts; Part A is for those 55 years of age with 25 years of service in, and Part B—you get one month for each year you worked up until three years."

Based on what he said, can someone calculate the ERI pension for a 60yr old in Tier 4, with 35 pensionable service years & a final average salary of $80K?

Benzo

Are a member of NYCERS?

ghomatas

I am a member of NYCERS. Would that automatically include me if I have the age and the years needed even though I work for MTA, not the City? That is my question.

Benzo

If you sign into your nycers it gives you the option to get an idea of what your pension would look like at your tier and best years etc

Benzo

Sorry I see what you are asking I can only guess like the rest of us who is going to be included in this if it really ever goes into effect

WhiteSandyBeach

Yes, a member of NYCERS.

eshushue02

I hope and pray they pass it and hope that nurses are included, NYSNA

mobro10305

Abbate conflated Parts A and B. Under the budget bills that included the ERI, for Article 15 employees (Tiers 3 and 4), Part A provides an incentive of up to 3 years additional pension credit, but there are penalties too if you are beneath the retirement age of your Tier. Only employees aged 55 or more with 30 years or more can take Part A with no penalty, but your agency has to offer it to your payroll title. Part B is supposed to be open to all employees, and lets you retire at 55 with 25, only with the pension credit you currently have, no penalties for being below the retirement age of your Tier.

dstadnyckyj

Make it happen. I'll be one cool breeze!

MJI721

MTA says we are not getting it. We are negotiated under city contract and have perm city titles. Who rules us. The state sold us to city either in 70 or 80 to the city. The state agreed to pay us but everything we get is through the city. Does city signed contract rule in on whether or not we get incentive.

WhiteSandyBeach

Now that Cuomo has signed off on the budget for fiscal year 2022, NYCERS has updated their website w/ an explanation of how the incentive would work if NYC were to offer it to some employees. Their explanation has a different takeaway than what most of us here have expressed.

twospirits

WhiteSandy Beach is correct that NYCERS has a statement on their website, but it is not a complete statement. The actual memo shows the 10 agencies that are excluded from the ERI. I sent a copy of the memo to the writer of the article Mr. Hennelly so he can see who is excluded. Sadly, it is now up to the City Council to draft their own version that includes city workers that cover those 10 agencies in the memo so the Mayor can sign it.

Benzo

ch 59 seems like a lot of room for red tape and loop holes

MJI721

That memo was taken down and now it says ERI has not been approved yet .

Maybe you did a good thing. Who can we advocate to to get included.

Benzo

Looks like its moving forward

RETCS

EMS Employees in NYC have been disregarded and disrespected, since inception, by those who fail to see or refuse to understand the importance of the EMS system. The trained men and women who go onto any street, highway, or other outdoor venue, into any building, public transportation system, or other area when determined to be safe, to assist anyone regardless of who they are, 24/7, 365 days-a-year, to evaluate their patients and render high quality prehospital care to them. These Civil Servants are exposed to infectious diseases such as COVID-19, work in all types of weather and the elements, which involves carrying patients and equipment, while working in less than optimal environments, and they must work overtime to make ends meet. Some have even lost their lives, in the line of duty, while helping others. Most retired members must secure additional work because their pensions are significantly smaller than their counterparts. This is an Essential Job that deserves pay parity, benefits, and respect. I would like to see all City Employees who would mutually benefit from early retirement be able to do so. This has certainly been a difficult period for so many people who have been affected by the Coronavirus. The City, State, and Federal Governments have a huge responsibility in balancing their respective budgets. In addition, to ensure we have sufficient funds to rebuild and move forward. We all need to continue to work together to accomplish our personal and common goals.

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