A couple of dots in the Sunday Buffalo News that need connecting.
People collecting taxpayer-supported public-sector pensions in New York are making out very well, even in these recessionary times, while many of those depending on private-sector pensions are looking at disaster:
- Page One: State pensions are inflated as workers boost salaries - Susan Schulman/The Buffalo News
Cashing in unused sick time and vacation days at the end of his career pumped up former Niagara Falls School Superintendent Carmen A. Granto Jr.'s annual pension beyond what he had made in his annual paycheck.
Granto is getting a $147,109 annual state pension in retirement. He was making $129,000 a year when he retired in 2009. How'd he do it? The same way others before him did.
Granto cashed in 45 unused vacation days and 747 accumulated sick days during the final years of his career, boosting his salary to over $200,000 in the two years he worked before retiring.
Under the terms of his contract, as well as state regulations for retirees hired before 1971, the inflated salary was used to calculate a five-year average salary that was the basis of Granto's pension. Granto therefore received a pension based on a $182,000 salary.
As a result, the former school superintendent has the third highest state pension in Western New York, according to a Buffalo News analysis of 2009 state pension data recently released by the Empire Center for New York State Policy on its SeeThroughNY Web site.
Related: WNYers in state's $100,000-plus pension club
- Pension petition deadline looms - San Francisco Chronicle
- French govt to stick to main pension reforms - Reuters
- Romania pension cut ruled illegal - BBC
- Business Today: Pension woes may keep many on job longer - David Robinson/The Buffalo News
Joe Yuhnke, who has spent 23 years working on the loading dock at trucking company YRC Worldwide, was looking forward to retiring in about seven years.
Now, the Pendleton resident’s retirement dreams are crumbling.
The Teamsters pension fund that controls the retirement benefits for Yuhnke and thousands of other Western New York workers is in deep financial trouble, with just a fraction of the money it needs to pay the pensions promised to its participants.
So deep is the financial hole that the fund now is being forced by federal rules to make major changes in the pension benefits that will be available to workers who retire next year and beyond.
Those workers, including Yuhnke, will face a triple-whammy of reduced benefits, later retirement dates and increased contributions to the pension fund by their employers or from their own pockets.
“It’s a young man’s job,” said Yuhnke, 44. “If they say I have to work until I’m 65 on the loading dock, I’ll be a crippled old man. I won’t be able to enjoy my retirement.”
Of course, retirement means different things to different people:
-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News