Greenburgh North Castle United Teachers President Anthony Nicodemo sees NYSUT's "Fix Tier 6!" campaign as an opportunity to engage with and support his newer members. Photo by El-Wise Noisette.
“We’re a fighting union and I know we can get this done,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta of union efforts to improve pension benefits for Tier 6 members, who receive substantially reduced pensions as compared to earlier tiers.
Fixing Tier 6 was the focus of the opening plenary session of the NYSUT Local and Retiree Council Presidents Conference. Speakers detailed disparities between earlier tiers, and participants brainstormed and shared best practices on how to activate members to become Fix Tier 6 activists. All agreed that the campaign is a great opportunity to engage new members and highlight union value.
“Fixing Tier 6 is about solidarity, fairness and dignity,” said NYSUT Executive Director Melinda Person. “Thirty years is a career; it doesn’t make sense that some members have to work longer.”
Citing the union’s effort in 2000 to reform Tier 4 by capping member contributions at 10 years and ending early retirement penalties, Person was confident the union can achieve similar reforms for Tier 6 — but it won’t be a quick fix. She estimates at least a decade of work before winning parity with Tier 4.
“Last year we got vesting fixed, next we’re going after age penalties, final average salaries and contribution increases,” Person continued. “We’ve done this before, and we can do this again.”