NEW YORK NURSE: March/April 2012
by Erin SIlk
Despite a swift and targeted campaign by NYSNA in opposition of Tier VI, the new pension tier for future state, NYC, and local employees has been passed in the 2012-2013 Executive State Budget.
Tier VI was touted by the governor as a cost-saving measure for taxpayers. NYSNA maintained that in the long run, the inferior pension would deter future nurses from working in the public sector – a demanding arena that is difficult to keep staffed.
NYSNA voiced strong opposition in the days leading up to the vote on the new pension. Our campaign to “Nix Tier VI” included a joint statewide radio campaign with other labor unions, a fact sheet distributed via e-blast telling lawmakers how Tier VI will hurt future nurses, a memo of opposition to the legislature and a widespread voicemail recording to all members asking them to call their legislators and demand that they vote the controversial pension option down.
“NYSNA was a leading voice in this fight,” said Nancy Kaleda, interim deputy executive director of labor in NYSNA’s Economic & General Welfare program.
While the Tier VI plan contains disincentives for those considering public service, some of its structure did improve in the final vote, thanks to thousands of calls from nurses and other public sector workers.
In the original proposal, Tier VI employees would have had to wait until age 65 to retire, while the final version allows for retirement at age 63. This is still an increase from the Tier V’s retirement age of 62. Other components include a vesting period of 10 years (rather than 12 as was originally proposed) and increased employee retirement contribution rates based on salary. NYSNA, along with other unions, maintained that the inferior pension would deter future nurses from working in the public sector — a demanding arena that is difficult to keep staffed.
NYSNA was notified of this action and within 24 hours, a postcard was mailed and e-blasted to members explaining the very tight deadline of March 31, and how to enroll in Tier V.
Thank you to those members who contacted their legislators to tell them in one strong, united voice that New York’s future nurses deserve better than an inferior retirement plan.