Wall Street Journal
May 29, 2015 1:04 p.m. ET


Top Democrats Join Critics of NYC Mayor’s Plan on Benefits for Police, Firefighters

Stringer, James want more for workers who retire on disability

By JOSH DAWSEY

KEVIN HAGEN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Police union official Patrick Lynch, seen in March.

Two of the city’s leading Democrats joined police and firefighter unions Friday to push for more generous disability benefits, setting up a fight with Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Unions rallied on the steps of City Hall to push for all police officers and firefighters who retire on disability to get 75% of their final year’s pay. They where they were joined by Public Advocate Tish James and Controller Scott Stringer. Those hired after 2009 now get about 50% tax-free, and it is further decreased if they get Social-Security benefits. The city is proposing a more modest increase for the workers.

The rally was partially led by Pat Lynch, the police union official who criticized Mr. de Blasio last year after the mayor made comments that Mr. Lynch said fostered an antipolice climate

The union officials were again critical of the mayor, saying he hadn’t consulted them before issuing a plan they called “disgraceful.”

“Income inequality should apply to the men and women keeping our streets safe,” Ms. James said, in a jab at the mayor’s signature issue.

The mayor’s office said the contract was far more than union members were once getting and was a responsible solution for taxpayers. The proposal from the unions could cost more than $300 million through fiscal year 2019, according to the city, while the City Hall approach would cost $47 million through 2019.

The council members want to pass a home rule resolution that will enable state lawmakers to increase the benefits. Melissa Mark-Viverito, the council speaker, hasn’t taken a position, a spokesman said.

Earlier this month, when Mr. de Blasio pitched his plan, Gov. Andrew Cuomo came out the next day and sided with the police and firefighters. Mr. Stringer, who audits the city’s contracts, said he supported the boost but couldn’t provide numbers on how much it would cost.