Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cuomo Signed NYSUT Leadership Pension Giveaway At Same Time Evaluation Deal Was In Works

When I first learned about Governor Cuomo signing the NYSUT leadership double pension giveaway, I figured there was some quid pro quo going on between the governor and the union leadership to get him to sign off on it.

Tonight we learn from Jessica Bakeman that there was indeed a quid pro quo:

ALBANY—Under a law approved in the final days of this year's legislative session, New York State United Teachers' elected officers will, for the first time, be able to simultaneously accrue time toward their state and private union pensions.

The law, signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo last month, allows NYSUT officers to accrue time toward their pensions through the state Teacher Retirement System while serving as union leaders. More specifically, it lets school districts offer paid leaves of absence to teachers who vacate their classroom positions to work for the union, while NYSUT reimburses the district for the officers' salaries and benefits.

After NYSUT officers serve for five years, they become vested in the union's private pension system, spokesman Carl Korn said. Therefore, officers could eventually be earning time toward both—a benefit former NYSUT president Richard Iannuzzi said is inappropriate.


The Legislature considered the bill at the same time Cuomo and lawmakers were negotiating changes to the state's teacher-evaluation system. The bill was introduced in early June, when Cuomo's office was engaged in closed-door negotiations with NYSUT over changes to the rating system. The Assembly passed the pension bill on June 19, the same day Cuomo announced he had reached a deal with the union, and the Senate passed it the next day.

Rather than fight the APPR teacher evaluation system, NYSUT leaders agreed to a lame change to APPR, then got Cuomo to sign off on their double pensions.

Last week I said here's another case for Preet Bharara to look into.

Now after it's revealed the pension giveaway came at the same time as the evaluation deal was getting done, I'll double down on that:

Bharara needs to look into the Cuomo/NYSUT double pension deal.

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