Dear COBA Members;
COBA is delighted to announce that New York State Governor Kathy Hochul has just signed TWO Bills into Law that will now provide much needed protections for Nassau County Correction Officers.
Law #1.) “Act of a Civilian” Senate Bill # S6710
This law will now provide a “Performance of Duty, ¾ Disability Retirement Benefit for all Tier 3, 4, 5 and 6 Correction Officer titled employees in Nassau County who, while in the performance of their duties, become disabled due to the direct result of the “Intentional or Reckless Act of a Civilian at an institution under the jurisdiction of Nassau County”. Currently, our ¾ disability protections are only covered for the “intentional or reckless act of an inmate”.
This is a huge new benefit for our Members!
Law #2.) “Death Gamble” Senate Bill # S4440
This new law increases the “in-service” death benefit for Nassau County Correction Officers in Tiers 3 through 6 of the New York State and Local Retirement System to be the value of the pension reserve (assuming single life allowance) as if the member had retired on the date of their death.
This means that Nassau County Correction Officers who choose to work past normal retirement eligibility, but pass away while in active service, shall have their families receive the full value of their pension benefit. Currently, if a Nassau County Correction Officer dies while in active service, there is no pension benefit. We only receive a contractual Death Benefit that equals 3 years final average salary.
By obtaining this benefit, we now protect our Members full pension benefits which also helps to retain Correction Officers who may choose to retire earlier than they’d like, to protect their pensions, instead of working past normal retirement age to enhance it.
Make no mistake, these two new laws are momentous for Nassau County Correction Officers. We have not seen this level of pension enhancements since we first obtained the ¾ Disability Benefit for the "act of an inmate".
COBA has worked extremely hard the last few years on these bills, only to have them dishearteningly vetoed by former Governor Cuomo. This year, once again we worked very closely with the NYS Senate and Assembly to get these bills passed. Then with the departure of Cuomo, we reached out to new Governor Kathy Hochul, along with our partners in the Downstate Correction Coalition in an effort to foster a better working relationship for Correction Officers in this State.
She and her staff were very receptive to our concerns during the course of phone conferences and zoom meetings, as well as through the efforts of our lobbyist Bob Ungar, giving us a glimmer of hope for a better Statewide relationship than we ever had with Cuomo.
We also have to sincerely thank Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and the entire Nassau County Legislature for repeatedly sponsoring these bills through Home Rule Messages, thereby agreeing to pay past service credits and future pension costs for these protections that do not come cheap. Laura Curran was a strong, daily advocate for us in the leadup to Gov. Hochul signing off on these laws.
A lot of hard dedicated work was put in on this by your COBA Executive Board for a long time. Pat McDevitt worked tirelessly in his legislative capacity, as well as Dennis Maurus who worked closely with our attorneys and other State representatives in helping to formulate the wording of the legislation.
Nassau County Correction Officers and our families now can rely on greater financial protections, God forbid we should ever need them. And unfortunately, we all too often do.
Persistence pays off !!!
Forever In Unity;
Brian Sullivan, COBA President