The Truth About Public Employee Pensions

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's a Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on The Brian Lehrer ShowGreg Floyd president of Teamsters Local 237, responds to Governor Cuomo's State of the State address as well as the Committee to Save New York's plans for government reform.

What you are hearing in the media is not true. The pension funds are not underfunded.

That is what Greg Floyd, president of Teamsters Local 237, said in response to Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address calling for a one-year pay freeze for state workers. Teamsters Local 237 represents 24,000 public employees in New York City, including school safety agents and maintenance workers.  

Floyd said pensions are not the problem, and the one-year state worker wage freeze in addition to the tough talk about lowering the pension costs is scape-goating public employees for problems that they did not create.   

He traces the problem fifteen years back, to former Governor Pataki and Mayor Giuliani, who reduced pension withholdings by three percent because they thought the pension fund was overfunded. “You have to maintain a certain level, and we didn’t do that.” No one had the foresight to predict the economic collapse — but Floyd finds the government remiss in not maintaining a sufficient surplus. Despite all this, public employee unions are not the enemy.

We’re willing to make sacrifices, but we don’t want to be sacrificed.

As evidence that public employees did not cause the crisis, Floyd pointed to Texas, where, despite tough conservative policies and a public employee work force largely barred from unionization, the state budget crisis looms large – larger than New York’s, in fact. Paul Krugman writes about the situation in depth in today’s New York Times. Floyd had a better solution for using pension funds to ameliorate the crisis. 

We can make smart investments, fund infrastructure projects, create retail jobs, we can create a legacy and put people back to work. Once there is a bigger tax base, then this will help solve our revenue problems.

So is there a fundemental pension problem? Floyd says no. 

I am a trustee of the new york city pension fund – we are not having trouble… Did we take a loss, yes. We have made a lot of that back. We are not underfunded, we are not New Jersey…we’re not there. New Jersey has a different problem.

What you are hearing in the media is not true. The pension funds are not underfunded.

For more, listen to the entire interview with Floyd above.

What you are hearing in the media is not true. The pension funds are not underfunded.

That is what the president of Teamsters Local 237Greg Floyd said in response to Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address in which he called for a one-year pay freeze for state workers.  Teamsters 237 represents 24,000 public employees in New York City, including school safety agents and maintenance workers.  

He said pensions are not the problem, and the one-year state worker wage freeze in addition to tough talk about lowering the pension costs is scape-goating public employees for problems that they did not create.   

He traces the problem to former Governor’s Pataki and Giuliani, who reduced pension withholdings by three percent because they thought the pension fund was overfunded. This problem started many years ago. “You have to maintain a certain level, and we didn’t do that.” No one had the foresight to predict the economic collapse but Floyd finds the government remiss in not maintaining a sufficient surplus.   

“We’re willing to make sacrifice but don’t want to be sacrificed”

 He sights as an example Texas, where, despite tough conservative policies and a public employee work force that is largely barred from unionization, the state budget crisis looms larger – larger than New York’s, in fact.  Paul Krugman writes about the situa

What you are hearing in the media is not true. The pension funds are not underfunded.

That is what the president of Teamsters Local 237Greg Floyd said in response to Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address in which he called for a one-year pay freeze for state workers.  Teamsters 237 represents 24,000 public employees in New York City, including school safety agents and maintenance workers.  

He said pensions are not the problem, and the one-year state worker wage freeze in addition to tough talk about lowering the pension costs is scape-goating public employees for problems that they did not create.   

He traces the problem to former Governor’s Pataki and Giuliani, who reduced pension withholdings by three percent because they thought the pension fund was overfunded. This problem started many years ago. “You have to maintain a certain level, and we didn’t do that.” No one had the foresight to predict the economic collapse but Floyd finds the government remiss in not maintaining a sufficient surplus.   

“We’re willing to make sacrifice but don’t want to be sacrificed”

 He sights as an example Texas, where, despite tough conservative policies and a public employee work force that is largely barred from unionization, the state budget crisis looms larger – larger than New York’s, in fact.  Paul Krugman writes about the situation in depth in today’s New York Times. Floyd has a better solution. 

“We can make smart investments, fund infrastructure projects, create retail jobs, we can create a legacy and put people back to work. Once there is a bigger tax base, then this will help solve our revenue problems.”

 Does that mean there is no pension problem?  Floyd says no. 

I am a trustee of the new york city pension fund – we are not having trouble…did we take a loss, yes. We have made a lot of that back. We are not underfunded, we are not new jersey…we’re not there. Jersey has a different problem.

 What you are hearing in the media is not true. The pension funds are not underfunded.

What you are hearing in the media is not true. The pension funds are not underfunded.

That is what the president of Teamsters Local 237Greg Floyd said in response to Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address in which he called for a one-year pay freeze for state workers.  Teamsters 237 represents 24,000 public employees in New York City, including school safety agents and maintenance workers.  

He said pensions are not the problem, and the one-year state worker wage freeze in addition to tough talk about lowering the pension costs is scape-goating public employees for problems that they did not create.   

He traces the problem to former Governor’s Pataki and Giuliani, who reduced pension withholdings by three percent because they thought the pension fund was overfunded. This problem started many years ago. “You have to maintain a certain level, and we didn’t do that.” No one had the foresight to predict the economic collapse but Floyd finds the government remiss in not maintaining a sufficient surplus.   

“We’re willing to make sacrifice but don’t want to be sacrificed”

 He sights as an example Texas, where, despite tough conservative policies and a public employee work force that is largely barred from unionization, the state budget crisis looms larger – larger than New York’s, in fact.  Paul Krugman writes about the situation in depth in today’s New York Times. Floyd has a better solution. 

“We can make smart investments, fund infrastructure projects, create retail jobs, we can create a legacy and put people back to work. Once there is a bigger tax base, then this will help solve our revenue problems.”

 Does that mean there is no pension problem?  Floyd says no. 

I am a trustee of the new york city pension fund – we are not having trouble…did we take a loss, yes. We have made a lot of that back. We are not underfunded, we are not new jersey…we’re not there. Jersey has a different problem.

 What you are hearing in the media is not true. The pension funds are not underfunded.

 

tion in depth in today’s New York Times. Floyd has a better solution. 

“We can make smart investments, fund infrastructure projects, create retail jobs, we can create a legacy and put people back to work. Once there is a bigger tax base, then this will help solve our revenue problems.”

 Does that mean there is no pension problem?  Floyd says no. 

I am a trustee of the new york city pension fund – we are not having trouble…did we take a loss, yes. We have made a lot of that back. We are not underfunded, we are not new jersey…we’re not there. Jersey has a different problem.

 What you are hearing in the media is not true. The pension funds are not underfunded.