Letters to the editor

To the New York Post, Oct. 17, 2008

To the Editor:

While it is true that the current economic crisis might require some collective sacrifices on the part of many New Yorkers, the Manhattan Institute’s E. J. McMahon is wrong to target municipal workers’ pensions for so-called reforms (“Gold-Plated Pensions,” Oct. 8).

Municipal pensions are deferred wages, and most have been negotiated in good faith by representatives of City Hall and various unions as part of collective bargaining agreements that met the needs of all parties. They amount to promises made in return for years of service by hard-working employees who keep the city running. Those promises must be kept in bad economic times as well as good ones as the city considers its budget priorities.

City workers – whether their annual pensions are $19,000, $31,000 or $45,000 – contribute part of their salaries to pay for their pensions. It would be wrong to punish them for the excesses of Wall Street, which helped put the economy in its current dire straits. While it is not surprising that McMahon would use this economic crisis as a guise to attack city worker pensions, it is shocking that he would do so when the chairman of the Manhattan Institute is one of the hedge fund owners that benefited from the current credit crisis. McMahon and other conservative critics shouldn’t try to shift blame to the workers who kept their end of the bargain with the city.

Randi Weingarten, President
United Federation of Teachers

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