News from the
NYS Assembly Committee on
Governmental Employees

Sheldon Silver, Speaker &bull Peter Abbate, Jr., Chairman • Fall 2007

Message from the Chairman

Assemblyman Peter J. Abbate, Jr.

My priority as Chairman of the Assembly Governmental Employees Committee has been to support legislation to provide benefits that improve the working conditions and secure retirements for all the public employees of our State, while ensuring that these benefits are fiscally responsible to the taxpayers of New York.

The week of October 21-27 was “Save for Retirement Week” in New York State, with that in mind I just wanted to provide some tips to get the most out of your pension.

Make sure you get all the credit you are allowed whether it is from military service; time transferred from another pension system in the state; credit from service before joining the pension system or reinstatement credit. If you are not sure what credit you have or are entitled to, check with your retirement system.

Take advantage of deferred compensation plans offered by the state and many local employers. Through deferred compensation plans many state and local government employees are able to secure additional sources of retirement income. The New York State Deferred Compensation Plan offers employees of the state and participating employers a voluntary savings plan that provides investment options, education programs and related services to help public employees achieve retirement goals. The New York City Deferred Compensation Plan offers a 457 or a 401(k) plan for employees of the City of New York.

To reach any of the retirement systems or deferred compensation plans, refer to the contact listing in this newsletter.

As always, I want to thank the all the committee members and staff for their dedication and attention to the needs of our state’s public employees. Additionally, I must thank the public employee unions, their representatives and the many government officials whose input on legislation was, and is, invaluable to our achievements this past Legislative Session.

My office is always open. If you have any questions or concerns about any issues or legislation before the Committee, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Keeping Quality Professors at our Local Colleges and Other CUNY and SUNY Campuses

As an Assemblyman from Brooklyn, I realize the valuable education many of my constituents receive at Brooklyn College, Kingsborough Community College and Brooklyn Health Science Center. Recently, a bill that I sponsored was signed into law that will provide an incentive to keep quality professors teaching at CUNY and SUNY.

Under the Optional Retirement Plan (ORP) pension equity law, ORP participants with 10 years of NYS service or more will no longer be required to contribute 3 percent of their salary to the cost of their pension. Thousands of professors in our city and state University systems will benefit under this new plan as will their many students who will continue to receive the highest quality instruction from their professors. (Chapter 617 of 2007)

World Trade Center Update

As each solemn anniversary passes, I cannot forget the extraordinary service given by many of our state’s citizens. I continue to work to ensure that benefits are available to those who participated in the Trade Center rescue, recovery and clean-up operation.

This past Legislative Session, in conjunction with the World Trade Center Disability Law Task Force and with input from others who participated in the rescue, recovery and clean-up operation we have made a technical correction to the line of duty death benefits in the “Zadroga Bill”; expanded those covered by the original disability law; and extended the deadline for filing a Notice of Participation with the retirement systems for another two years.

Chapter 5 of 2007 amends the law which provided line-of-duty death benefits to the statutory beneficiaries of eligible members/retirees who die from illnesses or diseases contracted as a result of participation in WTC rescue, recovery or cleanup operations. The enactment of Chapter 5 eliminates the gaps in coverage and other ambiguities found in Chapter 445. The following is a brief description of the law’s provisions:

  • Includes retirees in the special accidental death benefit provisions of Section 208-f of the General Municipal Law.

  • Includes active members in the accidental death benefit provisions of the Retirement & Social Security Law and Administrative Code of the City of New York.

  • Clarifies that ALL members/retirees must have met the underlying criteria of the WTC Presumptive Disability Law (pre-employment physical examination, participated in rescue, recovery or clean-up operations for a minimum of forty hours, filed a timely Notice of Participation) OR, for retirees only, would have met the criteria if not already retired on an accidental disability.

  • Clarifies eligible beneficiaries who successfully apply and are awarded death benefits under this law shall relinquish their rights to prospective benefits payable under a service or disability retirement benefit, including any post-retirement death benefits, since the retiree’s death.

Chapter 216 of 2007 provides disability benefits to those persons who repaired, cleaned or rehabilitated vehicles or equipment owned by the City of New York contaminated by debris resulting from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack. This law expands the covered sites defined in the WTC Presumptive Disability Law to include members who repaired, cleaned or rehabilitated vehicles contaminated by debris at the WTC site, regardless of whether the vehicles were tended to at the WTC site. Such members, now deemed eligible, would still have to meet the underlying criteria established in the WTC Presumptive Disability Law.

Chapter 495 of 2007 extends the deadline for eligible members to file the Notice of Participation required by the World Trade Center Presumptive Disability Law. Eligible members may now file the Notice of Participation no later than June 14, 2009. This law is retroactive to June 14, 2007, therefore, members who may have filed after the original deadline are now considered to have filed a timely Notice of Participation.


photo Chairman Abbate discusses legislation with Bing Markee, Legislative Director of the NYS Association of PBA and Peter Meringolo, Chairman of the Public Employee Conference and one of the Assembly’s appointees on the 9/11 Task Force.

Right to Representation Expanded to all New York Workers

This new law will make it an improper employer practice for a public employer to interfere with a public employee’s right to representation during questioning by his or her employer when it reasonably appears that the employee may be the subject of a potential disciplinary action. This legislation extends to public employees the rights of private sector employees under the National Labor Relations Act.

A recent New York State Court of Appeals decision ruled that public sector employees do not have the same rights as private sector workers when facing possible disciplinary action, a so-called “Weingarten right.” The Court of Appeals said a 1975 U.S. Supreme Court decision giving private sector employees the right to have union assistance during “investigatory interviews” does not apply to public employees in New York State because of differences between the NLRB and New York’s Taylor Law.

This amendment will eliminate any uncertainty and disagreement to the benefit of public employees, unions and public employers alike who will be freed from exposure to potentially costly and disruptive litigation. The protections afforded public employees are minimum guarantees and the amendment recognizes and preserves the parties’ rights to negotiate for expanded protections pursuant to the Taylor Law. (Chapter 244 of 2007)

Mandatory Retirement Age for Troopers Changed

The mandatory retirement age for state troopers has been changed from 57 to 60 years of age.

The members of the Division of State Police are among New York’s most elite law enforcement officers. The training and expertise of these police officers is unmatched and serves to promote the safety of New York’s citizens and the communities in which they reside. Under current law, once a state police officer attains 57 years of age, he or she is forced to retire at the end of that calendar year, despite the degree of knowledge the officer has and despite his or her physical condition. This legislation will ensure that those officers with the highest degree of law enforcement knowledge and expertise - which can only be obtained through experience - are able to continue in service to the citizens of New York for an additional three years, if the individual officer so chooses. Further, permitting veteran officers with invaluable and unquantifiable law enforcement experience to remain in service for an additional three years demonstrates the continued commitment that New York State has to the safety of its citizens. (Chapter 562 of 2007)

Important Retirement Contacts for Government Employees

New York State and Local Employees’ Retirement System -

New York State & Local Police & Fire Retirement System -

New York State Teachers’ Retirement System -

New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS) -

New York City Board of Education Retirement System (BER) -

New York City Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) -

New York City Police Pension Fund -

NYC Uniformed Fire Pensions -

New York State Deferred Compensation Plan - or 1-800-422-8463

New York City Deferred Compensation Plan - or 212-306-7760

Excused Leaves for Cancer Screenings Extended to County, Municipal and School District Employees

Early screening is extremely important in detecting cancer, treating it successfully and reducing the cost of care. Under this new law, state, county and municipal employees may take up to four hours of excused leave for both breast and prostate cancer screening. (Chapter 111 of 2007)

30 Year Cap Raised by 2 years for Police and Fire

This new law increases the maximum service retirement benefit for Tier 2 Investigators in the New York City Employees’ Retirement System and all Tier 2 policemen and firemen. The maximum number of years used in the calculation of a service retirement benefit will rise from 30 to 32 years. (Chapter 625 of 2007)

Retiree Health Insurance Protection Inconsistent
Some groups covered, others not

In April of this year Governor Spitzer signed legislation extending the law that provides protection to retirees of school districts. School districts cannot reduce the level of health insurance coverage or the contribution toward its cost for retirees, unless the reduction applies equally to active employees. (Chapter 22 of 2007)

Unfortunately, he vetoed bills that would have provided similar protections to public employees who are not currently covered by the law, including retired state and municipal employees, police and firefighters (Veto Messages 119 & 120). In response to the Governor’s veto, I have introduced legislation with Senator Farley to create a Task Force on Retiree Health Insurance Protection (A.9393). The task force will meet and be required to report recommendations for cost-effective strategies for protecting adequate, affordable health insurance coverage for retired public employees.

photo Chairman Abbate discusses legislation with Bing Markee, Legislative Director of the NYS Association of PBA and Peter Meringolo, Chairman of the Public Employee Conference and one of the Assembly’s appointees on the 9/11 Task Force.

Contact Assemblyman Abbate:
LOB 839
Albany, NY 12248
6419 11th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11219
8500 18th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11214

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