Seizing on the hardships of young firefighters and cops who have received skimpy disability pensions after being forced into retirement by line-of-duty injuries, unions representing the Bravest and Finest are pushing to roll back hard-won pension reforms.
The Legislature and Gov. Cuomo are poised to go along at far too great a cost to taxpayers — over the desperate objections of Mayor de Blasio. No enemy of labor, the mayor is right.
The unions’ plan would restore benefits that produced big lifetime payouts as high proportions of uniformed workers claimed eligibility for 75% disability pensions. Some did so under laws that, in effect, automatically deemed heart disease and cancers to be line-of-duty illnesses. Some have been well enough to work construction jobs and run marathons.
As a result, pensions for city firefighters retiring in 2014 averaged more than $100,000 a year — with seven breaking the $200,000 mark, according to a report from fiscal watchdogs at the Empire Center, who waged a years-long Freedom of Information fight for the data.
De Blasio’s sensible proposal would set a minimum disability payout for junior personnel, boost benefits for all who truly need them — and avoid breaking the taxpayers’ bank. His plan would cost $1.5 billion over 30 years — and still save $4.5 billion compared to the union alternative.
Cuomo, who worked to tame pension costs in 2012, should stand with de Blasio now.
Injured cops and firefighters deserve fair compensation, and that’s what de Blasio calls for.