Union, Ritchie Sound Off About 'Death Gamble' Veto

Union, Ritchie Sound Off About 'Death Gamble' Veto

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Right now, when a corrections officer who could retire, but is still working, dies, the family gets a payout equal to three times his salary.

But the family doesn't get his pension or other retirement benefits. It's a change the corrections officers union wants, but Governor Cuomo just vetoed.

"If something should happen to them, then their family doesn't get the retirement and that's something I don't take lightly and I know the officers don't take lightly," said Ritchie (R. - 48th District).

According to the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association, the union that represents state corrections officers, there are 2,700 officers who are now eligible for retirement.

"We are going to lose a good amount of our experienced staff, we've had a staffing concern for some time now," said NYSCOPBA President Michael Powers.

In the governor's veto message, he says that "these types of benefits are typically bargained pursuant to the Taylor Law and not unilaterally imposed through legislation."

But the lawyer who represents the corrections officers union says this type of benefit has to go through legislation.

"While there are benefits that are typically negotiated, this type of benefit's not, the benefit that flows from the retirement system, in fact there's language within the law that's pretty much prohibitive of that," said Keith Jacques, NYSCOPBA's attorney.

We reached out to the governor's office to see if the state law does prohibit this benefit from going to the negotiating table.
We didn't get a response.

The corrections officers union and the state plan to meet for collective bargaining this week. The union has been without a contract since April of last year.

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