Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Avella To Bloomberg: Stop Blaming The Unions by Liz Benjamin - Capital Tonight
NYC Councilman-turned-Senator Tony Avella sent a letter today to his erstwhile political foe, Mayor Blooomberg, accusing him of taking an “unconscionable” stance on the so-called holiday “bonuses” he’s trying to eliminate as part of his pension reform push.
The Queens Democrat, who ran a longshot run for mayor in 2009 (losing the Democratic primary to then-NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson), is siding with the more than 33,000 former NYC cops and firefighters who receive that amount every December as part of the Variable Supplement Fund.
The bonus was established in 1968 and, unlike other pension benefits, is not constitutionally protected. Doing away with it would save the city $200 million a year, Bloomberg mantains.
But the unions – and now Avella – note the bonuses came about as a result of the collective bargaining process. In exchange, the city was allowed to adopt a more aggressive pension investment strategy to reduce its annual direct contribution to the pension funds. (This reportedly saved $4 billion, Avella said).
Avella called the mayor’s characterization of the VSF as “Christmas bonuses” disgraceful, adding: “Your attacks in this regard on the city’s uniformed personnel, who put their lives at on the line every day throughout their careers, is unbecoming for a mayor of the City of New York.”