Saturday, June 27, 2020

Haven't We Been Through Enough?

In my last post, I wrote how the early retirement incentive being debated in Albany. In short, the incentive would allow almost any public employee in the state to retire by the end of the summer if they have 25 years of service and are 55 years old. Anyone who qualifies would get up to a three year pension credit if the choose to retire early.

This is means that almost any public employee in New York who is 55 years old or older and has 25 years in will be able to retire with 28 years.  I ended the post writing that it didn't seem like. abad deal.

And it really isn't for most public employees. Typically, the retirement rules require 30 years of service and the bills currently before the Senate and the Assembly would shave five years off of that. That's a very good deal for most public employees.

It's a great deal for NYC Sanitation workers. A great deal for NYC Custodians. An amazing deal for  DC 37 members. It's just a great deal all around. 

It happens to be a terrible deal for one type of public employee: The New York City School Teacher. Why? Because an unusually small amount of city school teachers will qualify.

Many city school teachers, who would otherwise have qualified for the package, had already opted into another 25/55 retirement plan all the way back in 2008. That plan was a trade; the teacher union agreed to a merit pay scheme by the Bloomberg administration and, in exchange, a special 55/25 early retirement incentive was offered to all city teachers. Anyone who wanted could opt in, pay a small amount from each check (1/85%) and, by the time the reached their 25/55 threshold, could retire. Teachers have been reaching their 25/55 threshold, and have been retiring under the plan ever since. (In 2019, around 8,500 city teachers retired. Many under this plan (see page 139)).

The 2008 deal wasn't made to all public employees. It was only offered to school teachers of New York City. 

Gov. Eliot Spitzer is poised to approve a deal that would sweeten retirement incentives for New York City teachers, a move that their union and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg support but that budget watchdog groups say is financially risky.
Because Mr. Bloomberg has agreed to the measure, which would allow teachers to retire five years earlier than they can now and still receive full pension benefits, Mr. Spitzer is likely to sign it, according to an administration official who did not want to be identified because no final determination had been made.

And because of this, city school teachers will benefit least from the incentive that is currently being debated in Albany (see my last post here for a link to the bills in both houses of the legislature). 

So when I said 'not a bad deal', I was wrong. This is a pretty bad deal for New York City teachers.

Haven't we been through enough? The Post -The NY Post- has even caught on to how bad city teachers have been hurt over the past few months, noting that teachers haven't even been informed of how many of us were exposed to COVID back in March. City teachers had to petition to even have our schools closed in the middle of the month and almost everyone I know does not trust in the processes of the city school system to adhere to CDC guidelines next Fall. Now they face a retirement incentive that will incentivize precisely (or very very close) to no one who teaches in New York City.


  1. Thank you for covering this and for your analysis. Agreed, it's not a good deal for teachers; most who qualify probably already opted-in and paid in to the 25/55 option. Imagine a teacher who has achieved 25/55 and takes a deal like this. What happens to all the extra money the teacher paid through the 1.85% deal? Refund? The legislature needs to sweeten the deal and broaden it to cover more teachers. Anybody 50+ should be offered an incentive to retire. Otherwise the DOE will have to grant accommodations to all of us. Us over fifties are vulnerable.

    1. I agree. Actually, ANON 6:56 just made a point that is, as it turns out, accurate! It looks like there is wording in here that does allow for 50 with 10 years in. I guess, stay tuned?

  2. Isn't there language in this bill that includes an early retirement incentive for those 50 years or older with at least ten years of service?

    1. Woah!!! First .. Who are you!! You can't be a regular Joe reading the blogs and catch that **totally buried** clause!!
      Email me!!?!? NO ONE is discussing or disseminating this information and the press, both mainstream and local, has been an absolute disaster!! Meantime, I have dozens of colleagues who are scared to death and are just planning to resign. PLEASE HELP MY COLLEAGUES!! Drop a piece! I'll publish anonymously.

      SECOND ... Here's the language you referred to. It is buried in sections 5 and 6 of part A. It looks as though you're correct. Is this without penalty?

      If not otherwise
      52 eligible for a service retirement, the following person shall be deemed
      53 to satisfy the eligibility condition of this section: a person who is at
      54 least age fifty with ten or more years service as of the effective date
      55 of retirement (other than a member of a retirement plan which provides
      56 for half-pay pension upon completion of twenty-five years or less
      A. 10595 7

    2. Anon 6:56

      You (more specifically, your wife) cannot collect before age 55...always keep that in mind. (Big difference between retiring and retiring/collecting.)

    3. @Anon 11:43 ... to be very specific ... employees can retire and collect when the law says they can retire and collect. And while, presently, you're correct that that is 55, the law presently before the Assembly and Senate does have language that points to 50 with 10. Anon 6:56 is correct in that observation.

      And, if you have been reading this blog, you will know that this 50/10 thing has been done in the past back in the 1990s.

      But 6:56's wife can collect when the law says she can collect .. and that law is presently being debated in committees in both the Senate and the Assembly.

  3. I am 6:56. My wife and I are both educators in NYC. We have opposite concerns. I am 57 with 22 years of service. I am already enrolled in the 55/25 program from 2008. My wife is 52 and has 29 years of service. Long story short, before all the buyout talk, each of us needed three more years to satisfy our respective retirement requirements. My original point is that I at least hope my wife can escape dodge if the buried clause for 50 and ten or more years of service. This bill would benefit her if this clause was part of the deal. From what I can see however, I don’t see much for me without a penalty. I’ll have to forge on and get my 25 years and retire at 60 as originally planned

    1. First, congratulations to your wife! And, hopefully, congratulations to you as well, if it is, indeed, at the 50/10 level. It does look like it comes with up to three years credit, so I hope it works for you!

      Well thanks very much for finding it and for pointing it out!! For the record, it was buried beneath 3,723 words of otherwise clear legislation citing 55 as the age. I think it's safe to call that opaque and, as I've written before, that level opaqueness is, truly, unfair to anyone who is interested.

      Having said all that, it does look like, after 3723 words, the age is 55 and the years are 10! All other terms (a public employee, active on February 20, and qualifying for 1 month credit for every year served up to three years, hasn't been (that I've seen) changed. Obviously, we'll all know once it is announced and the unions start sharing it with their members. Who knows, there may be language in there that provides the rest of us with a free Turkey on Thanksgiving!!

      There was once a time where we would be reading about this in the newspapers. With the main stream press having imploded, I doubt that will be the case moving forward, so I do hope you are able to get out of Dodge as soon as you can. As for me, I'm in for another ten years (or another cataclysm, whichever comes first!)

      I'll have to write an update in the morning. Thanks again!

  4. 6:56 here again lol. Well, I'm glad I can be of some help. Yeah, I was playing amateur lawyer scanning over the legalese of this bill. I truly hope there is a little something for everybody. This job, whatever it anybody does in the NYCDOE in terms of pedagogy, is not the same job I entered after changing careers in the late 90's, and especially not for my wife, who began in 1990. Micromanagement, all the negative changes that occurred under the previous mayor, and now Covid, has made the job something I would think twice about if I was a young person making a career decision. Thank you for providing this blog. And like I said, I hope Christmas comes early, and gives everybody a little something in the coming weeks.

    1. We used to have a professional press that would play lawyer for us. Alas, now we only have blogs.

      There are 2 instances of 50/10 mentioned. One specifically sites members of NYSTRS (that's not us here in the city) and another instance just mentions 50/10. It was clearly 'inserted language' in the middle of bill. Probably done in order to gain someone's support.

  5. so i have 27 years in- bought in 55/25. but only turn 49 in sept- so i am S**t out ofluck ??

  6. so at 49 years old in sept, over 26 years in the system- paid for 55/25-- out of luck -huh?

  7. I hope if an early incentive is offered it will take into consideration those of us who have been paying into 25/55 since 2008. Since so many of us chose that option, and it didn’t come free, it seems that the UFT needs to calculate us into the equation. I am 54 and entering my 20th year. I wonder how it would work for someone like me.