Public Sector Alliance September 16, 2014


City police union renews pension push

By Sally Goldenberg

The rank-and-file police union is again seeking support for a bill to increase disability pensions.
Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Pat Lynch met privately with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in City Hall Monday afternoon to lobby for her backing of an Albany bill that would improve line-of-duty pensions for newer cops who are in a different tier.

Lynch, who has long been fighting for the bill, was joined by his counterpart at the Uniformed Firefighters Association, Steve Cassidy.

Because the bill would impact the NYPD and the city's budget, Albany needs what is called a "home rule message" from the City Council—essentially a statement in support of the legislation.
Lynch told Capital that Mark-Viverito heard his case, but did not commit to a position.

"Today we were discussing with the City Council if they'll give a home rule message so we can go to Albany to ... take care of police officers and firefighters that are disabled in the line of duty. She took our information back and we're going to continue to have conversations to see if we can get it done, so we're hopeful," Lynch said as he walked out of City Hall after the meeting.

A spokesman for Mark-Viverito would only say the sit-down was "cordial and informative."

To determine the size of their pensions, police officers, like most municipal employees, are grouped into a tier system based upon their date of hire. The Albany bill, which has been introduced in both houses of the State Legislature, would afford all police officers the same disability benefit of three-quarters of their salary. Currently those hired after July, 2009 receive less than their colleagues with more seniority.

The bill received added attention after NYPD officer Rosa Rodriguez suffered severe lung damage after responding to a Brooklyn fire in April. Her partner, Denis Guerra, died from injuries he sustained at the high-rise arson fire in Coney Island.

A memo attached to the Albany bill notes that Rodriguez's disability benefits would currently total $22,000 annually, compared to roughly $39,000 if she had been hired earlier.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is in a protracted contract dispute with the P.B.A., came out against the measure in June. Though he does not have any official say on the legislation, he voiced his opposition on the grounds that it would cost the city an estimated $35 million in its first year.

Lynch disputed that figure.

"Their numbers are wrong," he said, adding, "They have a moral obligation to say, 'if you put yourself in harm's way we will take care of your family from there.'"