NEW YORK - Police officers, correctional officers, first responders, teaching assistants and nurses are among nearly 2,000 public service workers in Albany today to protest Governor Andrew Cuomo's new pension Tier 6 proposed in his budget plan.
Prison-system retiree Gary Tavormina, president of AFSCME's Retiree Chapter 82, calls the Tier 6 pension changes "drastic." Part of the proposal sends contributions into 401(k)-type plans that benefit Wall Street to the tune of billions in new fees, and there would be an overall reduction in lifetime pension payments of around 40 percent.
"Now, you're going to tell me there's not going to be enough money in that system because of the 401K application? Let's face it. It's wrong. We worked for our benefits. We deserve our benefits."
Oliver Gray, a trustee for the New York City Employee Retirement System and an official in AFSCME, says rewarding Wall Street firms that contributed to the economic crash is too risky.
"And we don't want to support them with the meager monies that come from our public workers. We want our public workers to have, at the conclusion of their work, at least that $19,000 pension."
The average pension amount for retired New York State public employees is $19,000 annually.
Gary Tavormina is also vice-chair of an international retiree group, and says there's no fiscal reason for drastic changes in New York.
"I know what the pension systems are around the nation. We have the best. Our comptroller is doing an excellent job in maintaining our system so it doesn't hurt the public."
The public service workers are in Albany for a Lobby Day. Guest speakers are featured at 11 a.m., including New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, and then employees will meet with their Albany representatives.
Lobby Day speakers are at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.