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The PBA is challenging Mayor Bloomberg's shameful proposals to eviscerate our long-standing, legislatively approved pension benefits and collectively bargained variable supplement funds. In solidarity with all six other police and fire unions, we will use every legal, legislative and public relations resource at our disposal to fight these blatant attempts to undo the promises that were made to us when we were hired.

In an outrageous move, the mayor's labor commissioner went before the Municipal Labor Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 2, and proposed making wholesale changes to the pension system that would drastically reduce or eliminate the pension and VSF benefits that we have been promised and have every right to expect.

You should be aware that these drastic changes are just mayoral proposals and cannot be unilaterally implemented without enactment by the Legislature.

What the mayor has studiously ignored is the fact that these benefits were bought and paid for at the bargaining table and in arbitrations, that the unions sacrificed compensation and gave the city $100 million up front for these benefits, and that the city reaped billions in surplus pension earnings from the agreements during the boom years of the 1990s.  In exchange, our members were promised these benefits, and now Bloomberg wants to renege on agreements made by himself and his predecessors. We won't stand for it.  

The dramatic increase in the city's return on its pension-fund investments reminds us of the cyclical nature of the market. We must remember that during boom times the city benefited to the tune of billions of dollars in earnings taken in exchange for the defined benefits for our members. Viewed over the long term, the pension funds are much more stable than the city portrays.

The mayor's demand that the State Legislature transfer its authority to approve public pensions to his administration should be rejected. His latest proposals to gut our pension benefits show, as I've said before, that he can't be trusted to honor a negotiated deal when it becomes politically inconvenient for his administration.

Furthermore, police and fire pensions and other benefits, bought and paid for over the bargaining table decades ago, are in no way responsible for the state and city's budget problems. And to use them as scapegoats for cyclical budget shortfalls is a cynical and politically motivated betrayal of the contract-negotiating process and of the public trust. Besides that, it's shortsighted, ill considered, misdirected, counter-productive and, ultimately, a threat to public safety. Drastic reductions in well-earned pension compensation can only result in police and fire recruitment problems – something the city can ill afford. We're down 6,000 police officers and we're losing 1,000 more. And these are the very same police officers that were responsible for the historic crime-rate decreases. This is no time to add disincentives for people to aspire to police and public safety careers.

Finally, it's fiscally unsound to balance the budget at the expense of public safety, and that's what these proposals would do. Low crime rates and fire safety are the engines that drive the city's economy. With tourism at an all-time high, does the city really want to risk recruitment problems and a further spike in crime at a time when crime is already on the rise? There are other, more sensible ways to solve the city's fiscal problems, including an effort to secure additional funding from the Department of Homeland Security and other federal sources. And we would suggest to the mayor that he look at cutting the waste from the workings of his own administration. How about the staggering $722 million – and counting – that has been wasted on his CityTime time-tracking system?

As I said, we will use every resource and power that we have to fight these regressive and unfair pension-gutting proposals and to make sure that the finest police officers on earth are not reduced to second-class citizens in the law enforcement community, and that the promises made to them when they were hired are kept to the fullest. We will keep you informed as the battle progresses. For examples of media coverage associated with this issue, click on the accompanying links.


Patrick J. Lynch

Other stories in the media:

1010 WINS 12:34 PM and 1:13 PM 2/3/11
Wall Street Journal 2/3/11
The Chief-Leader 1/31/11
Gotham Gazette 1/21/11
Newsday 1/19/11
International Business Times 1/19/11

PBA press releases to all media: 
 2/4/11, 2/2/11 and 1/19/11


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