DC 37 Urges Governor Cuomo to Sign Bill Restoring NYC OTB Retirees' Health Insurance

Sep 15, 2011, 17:17 ET from District Council 37

The state Assembly and Senate passed a bill to restore NYC OTB retirees' health insurance; The union is pressing Governor Cuomo to sign the bill before the time limit expires.

NEW YORK, Sept. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- District Council 37, the city's largest public employee union, along with its affiliated New York City Off-Track Betting Corp. Employees Local 2021, are pressing New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo to immediately sign a bill that would protect NYC OTB retirees' health insurance. The bill, A.5785 and S.4489, was passed overwhelmingly in June 2011 by both houses of the state legislature – 88-50 in the Assembly and 51-11 in the Senate – and sent to the Governor's desk on Sept. 12, 2011 for signature. The governor has up and until midnight Sept. 23, 2011 to sign the legislation.

"It is unconscionable that workers who retired after providing years of exemplary and dedicated service to the NYC OTB Corporation should be concerned that their health benefits will not be restored because of Governor Cuomo's inaction. Some retirees have life-threatening conditions that require constant care.  Failure to restore these benefits that they earned would be devastating," said Leonard Allen, President of Local 2021 and a thirty-year NYC-OTB former employee. "The Assembly and Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill to restore the retirees' health care. We call on Governor Cuomo to sign that bill into law."

NYC OTB retirees lost health coverage as an unintended consequence of the corporation's closure, in which more than 1,000 active workers also lost their jobs. Health insurance for approximately 900 NYC OTB retirees would be covered by the bill on Governor Cuomo's desk. Moreover, some 80 percent of those retirees are Medicare eligible and this number will increase in the future thereby reducing costs to the state over time. The union is urging the governor to follow state legislators' lead in signing the bill to restore their health coverage.

DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts said, "These are workers who deserve restoration of the health care benefits they worked long and hard for during decades on the job. They are a vulnerable population with outstanding health issues, who don't need to unnecessarily join the ranks of the uninsured. We urge the governor to sign the bill. "

New York City Off-Track Betting was taken over by the State of New York in June 2008.  In December 2009, then Governor Paterson authorized NYC OTB to file for bankruptcy protection.  NYC OTB was closed on December 7, 2010, after the New York State Senate failed to pass legislation that would have allowed for its restructuring.

District Council 37 is New York City's largest public employee union, with 125,000 members and 50,000 retirees.

District Council 37
American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees
125 Barclay Street
New York, NY  10007
Phone (212) 815-1535
Fax: (212) 815-7535

Zita Allen, Communications Director
Molly Charboneau
Rudy Orozco

SOURCE District Council 37