Letters to the Editor

Bloomberg should drop the emperor act

To The Editor:

As a former NYPD officer and long time Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association Union Delegate, I’m more than baffled and even more insulted by our mayor’s desire to unilaterally remove our bought and paid for “defined benefit” pension plan.

We need some history: In 1968 the city, NYPD and fire unions came together at the request of then Mayor John Lindsey. At stake was using pension funds that were paid by these members in the stock market to bolster earnings for the city. In return, the police and fire union members would, upon retirement, receive whatever the market returned, be it less or more.

Let’s move to 1988. Fiscal times were picking up just a little by then. Contract negotiations between fire and police (and I emphasize negotiations) led us to what we know as the “defined benefit.” Our unions, at the behest of City Hall, under Mayor Ed Koch, were willing to forgo ups and downs of the stock market in order to have a yearly dividend — a dividend that was defined.

Most police officers and firefighters in this city deserve this because, simply put, they and their families’ lives are not defined. Most of us living in New York City know or have a brother, sister or close relative doing these jobs. They’re not at home on holidays, for their children’s birthdays, et cetera. And every time they walk out of their doors, no one knows if they will return.

I won’t have a mayor that continually disrespects the municipal labor community. You are not an emperor. You know nothing of my compatriots that toiled at Ground Zero. You sir, are a petulant, rich, spoiled brat. I would not let you near a pair of burnt boots that any of my partners wore.

This is a mayor who has tried repeatedly to usurp the legitimate gains organized labor has made over the past hundred years in this city.

Our benefit was earned, bought and paid for. Any move to remove it will only sully Bloomberg’s reputation.

We all know how much politicians care about their legacies.

Mike Venckus

It’s about jobs

To The Editor:

It was disappointing to learn at the recent New York City Council hearing on Walmart’s right to open any stores in the Big Apple that many elected officials, including New York City Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and many of her Council colleagues are continuing to stand in the way. Walmart coming to New York City would provide work for construction contractors, their employees and thousands of the 9 percent of New Yorkers currently out of work. The city would benefit by several hundred million in new sales, payroll and real estate tax generated revenues.

Walmart is the nation’s largest private sector employer with over 1.2 million employees and growing each year. Tens of millions of Americans, including many fellow New Yorkers own stock in Walmart. The same is true for the various retirement and pension plans many people participate in.

The starting pay at Walmart is between several dollars more and double the minimum wage for new employees around the nation. Promotional opportunities including training for higher paying managerial positions are common, and they offer health care and other benefits. Walmart may actually pay higher salaries and offer more benefits than some of their competitors.

Walmart consumers get a better bang for their buck, and many New Yorkers can’t afford to pay extra. They need the great prices, quality merchandise, and the affordable food and drug options that Walmart offers.

Several hundred thousand New Yorkers work off the books, full and part time, with no benefits or insurance. Many existing retailers pay minimum wage with no benefits, but public officials who oppose Walmart never talk about these abuses.

Consumers have voted with their feet all over America making Walmart the number one retail merchant success story it is today. Why not allow Walmart the opportunity to compete in the New York City marketplace as well.

For those opposed, don’t shop there, but give everyone else a choice.

Larry Penner