The UFT and New York City have reached a tentative agreement that will secure pension benefits and end the two days of work before Labor Day, while providing needed savings to the City. The actual agreement, which will be submitted to the Delegate Assembly for its approval, can be read here.
Under this agreement, the pension and health benefits of all UFT members — in service and retiree — remain completely intact. In particular, the agreement preserves the hard-won age 55 retirement pension. After completing ten years of service, future members will pay an additional contribution for these benefits. Effective September 2009, UFT members will no longer have to work the two days before the Labor Day weekend.
“This agreement is a win for everyone,” said UFT President Randi Weingarten. “We are all very concerned about the heavy losses our pension system has incurred during this economic crisis and the looming cuts for schools. No only does this deal help shore up the city budget with new savings, which will hopefully be used for schools, it also maintains the age 55 retirement benefit that we fought many years to achieve and returns us to the tradition of teachers and students starting school after Labor Day, something that our members, particularly those with families, very much wanted.”
As a result of the worst economic crisis in the United States since the Great Depression, public services – including public education – have been subjected to draconian budget cuts, public sector workers have been laid-off and public sector unions have come under pressure to diminish the salaries, health benefits and pension benefits of their members.
From the start of this economic crisis, the UFT has identified two primary objectives which have guided our response to this crisis: protecting the quality of the educational services provided to New York City public school children and securing the economic livelihood and professional status of our members.
The UFT has rightly rejected efforts to raise the retirement age of New York City public school educators and otherwise reduce their pension benefits – efforts that have grown in intensity since two large state public employee unions earlier this month negotiated agreements which included such measures.
Here are the details of the agreement:
- Pension and health benefits for all UFT members — in service, retiree and future — remain intact.
- All UFT members who have been required to report to begin work on the Thursday before Labor Day will report back to work the Tuesday after Labor Day, effective September 2009.
- The 55/25 and 55/27 early retirement benefits are preserved.
- All UFT members will continue to receive the 7% guaranteed annualized rate of return for the fixed investment option in the voluntary Tax-Deferred Annuity (TDA) programs for BERS and TRS members. The additional 1.25% rate above the state-guaranteed 7% will no longer be available, a modification that reflects the downturn in investment income after the stock market collapse last year.
- New UFT-represented employees will continue to have the same pension benefits as current members, but they will make additional contributions for these benefits — a return to the old Tier Four contribution rules. Breaking it down, under the 55/27 retirement plan, new employees will make a 4.85% pension contribution for 27 years and 1.85% thereafter, up from the current 4.85% contribution for 10 years and then 1.85% through 27 years.
- New UFT-represented employees will become vested in the pension plan after 10 years of service, rather than the current five. The impact of this change is modest since most UFT-represented educators can elect to withdraw their pension contributions as a lump-sum payment if they quit during their first 10 years on the job.
- New UFT-represented employees will be eligible for retiree health insurance coverage after 15 years instead of 10 years.