Dear Brother and Sister Officers,
First and foremost, I hope each of you enjoyed a memorable Easter/Passover with your families. As we turn the page towards the beginning of a new season, it’s imperative that we take time to reflect on the road we’ve traveled and the challenges that still lay ahead.
This time last year, the COBA initiated a year-long battle to preserve and protect the pension benefits that this union negotiated and obtained for you and your families more than a decade ago. We kicked off this fight by hosting “The People’s Rally” in front of City Hall that united public sector and private sector union leaders, as well as, our friends in office, to collectively draw a line in the sand and tell the governor, Mayor, and various legislators that they will not use us as their budget bailout package.
Because of our campaign and intense lobbying which included numerous trips to Albany, radio commercials, and our weekly radio show, the anti-union politicians were forced to drop Correction Officers from the imminent threat of being included in the sweeping overhaul of NY public sector pensions.
As we indicated, there is no 401 (k) option, no new or current Correction Officers will be forced into a Tier VI pension, and no Correction Officers will be forced to work until the age of 65!
New Correction Officers hired after April 1, 2012, are a part of a uniformed union exemption from Tier VI that provides for the following:
• Calculation of overtime into pension plan.
• Final average salary calculation of five years.
• Employee contribution decreased to 3% from 7.61%.
• Twenty-two year retirement plan instead of twenty years.
• VSF still guaranteed in 2019 and beyond.
From day one, the COBA vigorously fought to protect the pensions that all current Correction Officers receive and with your support we prevailed. For the first time, COBA members will have pension parity with police officers and firefighters.
Capitalizing from our victory in the war on pensions, the COBA has begun to focus on contract negotiations that will be commencing in the near future since our current contract has expired on October 31, 2011. As many of you know, over the last several years, the COBA executive Board and I have negotiated six contracts that provided over a 54% increase in salaries and enhanced benefits for you and your families. We will be seeking even more salary and benefit enhancements. Because of the dismal fiscal condition of the City of New York, this new round will be an extremely difficult one. However, we are up to the task and will negotiate around the clock if it is necessary to obtain the best possible contract for you and your family. As always, we welcome your suggestions and input during this process and encourage you to contact your delegate with any productive ideas you may have.
COBA has and will continue to not only be fierce advocates, defending your pensions and contractual rights, but we’ll also continue to improve the quality of life for you and for the communities you live in.
It’s no secret that I have personally taken a strong stance to prevent the spread of illegal weapons from entering the hands of those thugs who continue to terrorize our neighborhoods. In just the last two months alone, two of our own Correction Officers were victims of gun violence while off-duty. For the sake of our future and the future of our children, we cannot and we will not turn a blind eye as our mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, sisters and brothers become yet another fatal statistic. As we continue to fight to keep our communities safe, we must also do all we can for our children and their future. That’s why I’m pleased to inform you that COBA has sponsored a golf seminar for kids with special needs in conjunction with the Brooklyn Junior Autistic golfer’s Academy from June 2, 2012 to September 1, 2012. The registration deadline is Friday, May 18, 2012.
Applicants must be children ages 6-17 and Autistic and Special needs children will have priority. Contact Vincent Coppola at the COBA office at 212-274-8000 for further information.
In closing, I thank you again for your support, confidence, and commitment as we face head on the daunting challenges that lie ahead with contract negotiations and further attacks on municipal workers of this great city. Yet, no matter what adversity we may face, rest assured that we will keep our eyes on the prize and work diligently to achieve the best results for the best Correction Officers in the world!
May God continue to bless you and your families.