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Mayor De Blasio, Fire Commissioner Nigro, UFA President Cassidy and UFOA President Lemonda Praise New Law Restoring Three-Quarter Accident Disability Protections for Firefighters

September 12, 2016

Contractual agreement between City and UFA now secured by state law

NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro, Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy and Uniformed Fire Officers Association James Lemonda today praised the enactment of a new State law providing more recently hired Tier 3 and Tier 6 New York City firefighters seriously injured in the line of duty with three-quarters of their final average salary after leaving the department. The new law is a codification of an agreement reached between the City and UFA in August 2015 – as part of the union’s contract agreement – to jointly pursue the required state legislation needed to provide enhanced disability protections for firefighters injured in the line of duty.

Since July 1 2009, any New York City firefighter hired thereafter, who sustained career-ending injuries while on the job, only received 50 percent of their salary, minus any social security payments they received. This new law immediately applies to nearly 2,000 firefighters hired after June 30, 2009.

“We struck an agreement last year and we said we’d do whatever it took to make sure that deal happened,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Working together with our labor partners, the State Legislature and the City Council, we have provided an important protection to nearly 2,000 firefighters whose benefits will now be comparable to that of their coworkers.”

"Firefighting is a dangerous job for all our members, but they all were not equally protected financially in the event they suffered a serious, job-related injury or illness," said Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro. "Nearly 2,000 firefighters are now eligible for enhanced pension benefits if they are injured on the job, as well as future firefighters. I want to thank Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, UFA President Cassidy, UFOA President Lemonda, and State and local officials for working together to support our Bravest."

"This law means that New York City Firefighters who put their lives on the line protecting the public will never have to worry about leaving themselves and their families destitute should they be seriously injured in the line of duty," said UFA President Steve Cassidy. "All New Yorkers are now safer because of the restoration of these necessary benefits. I want to thank Mayor de Blasio, Labor Commissioner Linn and Fire Commissioner Nigro for their support in making this happen."

The agreement reached in August of last year and signed into law last week is fair to both firefighters and taxpayers. The City’s cost of the agreement will be $6.1 million in FY2017 growing to $12.6 million in FY2021. Firefighters will contribute an additional two percent of their salary for this enhanced benefit. The additional contribution may increase pursuant to an actuarial analysis completed every three years from the law’s effective date, but it cannot increase to more than three percent of salary.

As a result of City and employee contributions, Tier 3 and Tier 6 firefighters will have a disability benefit that is the equivalent of three-quarters of their final average salary over five years. As is the case under current law, no single year can exceed the prior four years by more than 10 percent. Additionally, existing presumptions under Tier 2 will be restored and firefighters’ social security will no longer offset the disability benefit offered by the City.

“I am proud that we were able to negotiate a labor agreement with the firefighters that solved this extraordinarily important issue in a fiscally responsible manner," said Office of Labor Relations Commissioner Robert Linn.

State Senator Martin J. Golden, Chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Pensions, said, "Each day our brave firefighters are ready to run toward danger and put their lives on the line to save others, and many times, these brave men and women are hurt in the line the duty. Mayor Bill de Blasio today stands shoulder to shoulder with New York's Bravest and reaffirms our City's commitment to ensure our heroes have strong disability protections, so they do not have to ever worry about the possibility of financial and medical burdens. I am proud to be a New Yorker and a champion of this cause, because we have, and always will, takes care of our heroes."

Assembly Member Peter Abbate, Chair of the Committee on Assembly Governmental Employees, said, "I am happy that an agreement has been met between the City and the City's fire unions to restore the 3/4 disability benefits for injured first responders. This benefit will grant additional piece of mind to those our communities depend on the most if they are disabled in the line of duty. This is long overdue."

Assembly Member Deborah Glick said, “I am proud to have voted in support of the bill to increase disability benefits for our firefighters. Our firefighters are routinely exposed to noxious fumes in doing their daily work. As we have seen from 9/11, these exposures can cause serious, long term disabling conditions as a result. This law is an appropriate protection for firefights and their families who dedicate their lives to serving all New Yorkers and making our City safer.”

Assembly Member Luis Sepulveda said, “Sunday's 15th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy brought back to all of us fresh memories of the dedication of New York City's firefighters, who rushed in while others fled. They still are paying the price with illnesses from those terrible days. This amendment is the right thing to do, and the least that we as a city can do for these heroes.”

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