NYC Approves New Police and Firefighter Pension Benefits in Just 24 Hours

June 11, 2015

The New York City Council approved a new package of disability pension benefits on Wednesday for police officers and firefighters in what union representatives and some council members described as a surreptitious process.

With little public notice other than an updating of the Council’s website, the legislation sped from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office to a Council committee to the full body in less than 24 hours.

The council voted 31 to 17 with three abstentions to approve Mr. de Blasio’s proposal, which is aimed at giving relatively new employees benefits closer to those of officers and firefighters hired before 2009, when David A. Paterson, then the governor, vetoed a bill that would have extended the same benefits to all workers.

The Uniformed Firefighters Association and the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association were jointly seeking a rollback of the 2009 veto, which was made as an effort to curb spending during the recession.

Not long before the Council’s vote, hundreds of firefighters, joined by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, took part in a rally in Albany to press their case. But the de Blasio administration’s plan did not award as much in benefits, seeking to strike a balance between increasing benefits for newer employees and not overextending the city budget.

The hasty vote, which must be backed in Albany to go into effect, adds to friction between Mr. de Blasio and the police and fire unions. The police and fire unions were shocked as they watched the pendulum swing the mayor’s way on Wednesday; just two weeks ago, the unions had 39 council members signed on for a resolution they had fashioned, said Stephen J. Cassidy, president of the fire union.

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