Leaders of Local 372 are calling for Gov. Cuomo’s signature on a bill that would automatically enroll about 17,000 part-time, temporary employees in the Board of Education Retirement System (BERS) after they pass 90 days of employment.
“This legislation would solve a widespread problem that hurts our most vulnerable workers – the loss of years’ worth of valuable retirement benefits that they were legally entitled to,” said Local 372 President Shaun Francois I.
The way the system now operates, workers known as “optional employees” can opt-in to BERS, but unless they explicitly express their desire to do so, they are out of the system by default and accrue no benefits.
And that’s been a source of financial pain for many of these employees, whose annual salaries average $25,500.
“Many members mistakenly believe they are automatically enrolled in the pension system, and they ask for their union’s help after learning that’s not the case,” Francois reports.
“Tragically, by the time they come to us, they have missed out on years’ worth of retirement benefits and have to start saving from scratch.”
Under the BERS bill, sponsored by State Senator Diane Savino, new “optional employees” would be automatically enrolled in the pension system unless they affirm their desire to opt out. Workers who opt out can enroll later if they change their mind.
And every current worker eligible to be part of the pension system will be automatically enrolled so that no more workers fall through the cracks.
“This legislation ensures that workers are not left without any retirement security after a lifetime of service simply because of human error,” Francois says.
Governor Cuomo has until the end of the year to sign the legislation. He vetoed an earlier version of the bill in 2017.
Please call the Governor’s office TODAY at 518-474-8390 and let him know you are a DC 37 member who supports the BERS bill sponsored by Sen. Savino.
The DC 37 Blog is an official online publication of DC 37, AFSCME, which represents 121,000 municipal employers in New York City and surrounding areas.