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The unions represent SUNY employees, state corrections officers, state troopers, police investigators and other state workers. The groups filed suit Wednesday. They’re arguing that a recent 2% increase in the percentage of insurance premiums retirees have to pay is illegal. They say the state isn’t allowed to increase what union members have to pay after they’ve already retired.
Don Feldstein is a spokesman for the United University Professions, which represents 4,000 SUNY retirees. He says that 2% increase could mean some retirees would pay more than $1100 more per year for their health insurance. "These are retirees obviously and most are on fixed incomes. And they’re having a hard enough time making ends meet as it is. But then after October 1st to receive this increase out of the blue is something they hadn’t planned for—so this is really a financial hardship on them," Feldstein said.
Governor Cuomo’s office didn’t return NCPR’s calls in time for this story, but the Albany Times Union reports that a spokesman for the governor said higher health costs have previously been passed along to retired workers and this boost should be acceptable, too.
The Retired Public Employees’ association filed a similar lawsuit in state court early in December. Feldstein says his union is hoping the federal court will roll back the new increase.