NEW YORK NURSE: November 2010
by Mark Genovese
Editor’s note: This edition of New York Nurse was held past its usual deadline so that NYSNA could bring members this important, late-breaking news.
The New York State Nurses Association Pension Plan has been saved!
Pension Plan trustees voted on Dec. 7 to retain the association’s current pension plan, reversing a previous move to decrease the plan’s benefits. New guidelines from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service will allow the plan to recertify as “green” and, therefore, maintain its current benefit structure.
“This is a huge victory for NYSNA and its members,” said Lorraine Seidel, director of NYSNA’s Economic and General Welfare Program. “Nurses do vital and difficult jobs. They deserve to know their pensions are secure.”
The association had previously informed its members of changes to the NYSNA pension plan made pursuant to an arbitrator’s ruling in October, prior to the new IRS guidance. The arbitrator’s changes have been voided by the trustees’ new agreement and the pension plan currently in effect will remain in effect.
The IRS guidelines, which were issued Nov. 26, clarify how the “The Preservation of Access to Care for Medicare Beneficiaries and Pension Relief Act of 2010” should be implemented by multiemployer defined benefit plans, such as the association’s pension plan. The Pension Relief Act, which the association championed, gives pension plans a longer time to recover from losses suffered during the recent recession.
The pension plan, which covers more than 14,000 NYSNA members at 29 facilities, will now be able to recertify as “green” or healthy, for the plan year ended March 2010, instead of as “red,” allowing for the plan to continue with its existing benefit structure.
This victory is the result of an intensive campaign conducted by the Pension Rescue Task Force, made up of NYSNA members and staff, directed by Nancy Kaleda, NYSNA pension campaign project manager. The campaign worked during the past two years to educate members through letters, bulletins and posters, and to influence trustees and legislators through petition and postcard drives. A radio campaign running in the metro New York area was started in late September and ran through October.
“We never lost faith that we would be able to preserve a fair pension plan for our members, and by sustained efforts advocating for the Pension Relief Act, mobilizing members and communicating with plan trustees, we have been successful in maintaining our current pension plan,” said NYSNA CEO Tina Gerardi.