Pensions were the topic of choice for nearly 2,000 AFSCME public-service employees who were in Albany today to lobby lawmakers. Many wore stickers or had signs opposing Tier 6, a new pension tier proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Tier 6, which would be less generous than current pensions, would apply only to future state employees.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, said he thinks the governor has to work out pension reform with unions. “The governor has to work out with the unions a reasonable approach to saving money,” he told reporters after speaking to AFSCME.
Asked if a secure retirement can be preserved and pension benefits reduced for future workers, Silver said, “I think that there is a deal to be made that will safeguard secure retirement and save money for the state of New York.”
“I think what’s important is the governor sit with the unions and work out what is appropriate. I’m not a union leader. I don’t know the ins and outs of the current conditions of employment,” Silver said.
Sen. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, said pension recipients are not the problem in New York. “It’s with the fact that we need to create jobs in New York state,” he told AFSCME members. “We need to create more jobs, not only public sector but private sector.” Another problem is abusers of the system, he said.
Libous said the governor’s pension proposal “needs a lot of work.” When asked for details, he said only that “this is an ongoing work in progress.”
“The governor’s plan is going to be negotiated. The governor has said that. The governor is meeting with labor this evening,” he said.
Libous, who is considered a friend of the labor movement, didn’t respond to a question on whether there’s a need for a new pension tier with less generous benefits, saying the question was a “loaded” one. “We’re going to do I think what’s right for the state and what’s right for the workers of the state,” he said.
This is a video of Silver speaking on pensions today: