Bloomberg Gets Snubbed on Pension Tier Talks

Mayor Bloomberg may have gotten health-care concessions out of the municipal unions, but he be may be out of luck in his efforts to slash costly pension benefits for future City employees. 

Bloomberg wants to create a "fifth pension tier," which would scale back generous pensions for yet-to-be-hired workers. But in an embarrassing moment at a news conference Tuesday morning, Harry Nespoli, president of the sanitation workers union and the Municipal Labor Committee, contradicted Mayor Bloomberg, who implied talks on the matter were ongoing.  

"There's no end to negotiations," Bloomberg said. "We work with our municipal workforce every single day. I do happen to believe that a Tier 5 would be the right thing because we cannot continue to afford the benefits going forward for new employees that we currently pay."

Moments later, Nespoli stepped to the podium and said, "We already told the governor and we already told the mayor we are not interested in sitting down to negotiate a Tier 5."  

But the city's labor unions are agreeing to contribute more to their health benefits under a new budget agreement with the mayor.

The deal with the Municipal Labor Committee will save the city $200 million in the fiscal year that begins next month. It will save $200 million the following year, and $150 million after that.

The savings comes through new co-payments for some services and changes to the funding structure for hospital claims, among other administrative measures.

Under the tentative agreement, the city has agreed to delay some of the scheduled layoffs for 90 days. That cost will be covered by a union fund that was created from collective bargaining settlements in the mid-1980s.

The agreement covers more than 550,000 employees and retirees.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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