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PEF to state: Early retirement incentive legislation is lacking

PEF reviewed early retirement incentive legislation recently introduced and determined it comes up short, opening the door for state agencies to cherry-pick who it applies to and providing no requirement for the state to fill the vacated positions.

While the legislation recognizes the hard work of PEF members during the COVID-19 pandemic and state hiring freeze, it doesn’t address the growing vacancies at state agencies created by retirements and lack of hiring.

“There are currently about 5,000 empty PEF jobs across the state,” PEF President Wayne Spence said. “PEF members are now doing jobs that used to be done by two or three people. This has been steadily strangling the state workforce and, while this proposed early retirement incentive legislation appears friendly on the surface, it is dangerous if enacted as written.

“There must be a provision that mandates each retirement position be backfilled,” he said. “This bill also allows certain entities to opt in, which means agencies and managers will pick and choose who is allowed to retire early. Some state employees might think they are eligible based on their years of service and then find out that their agency or manager is not participating.”

See President Spence’s full answer to the question about early retirement incentive bills at vimeo.com/542774650

Spence said the proposal could help increase staffing, but as currently written falls short and fails to recognize the service of all PEF members.

“This pandemic demonstrated the importance of a fully staffed state workforce and the vital services PEF members provide to millions of New York State citizens,” Spence said. “It’s more important now than ever before that we invest in the state workforce.

“Why is the Legislature talking about providing an early retirement incentive to some workers and not others while still not talking about legislation recognizing the service of all the PEF heroes who have served as essential employees during this pandemic,” he said. “This proposal as currently written would exclude thousands of eligible members — essentially giving more ‘zeros’ to so many deserving heroes.”​