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Thursday, December 30, 2021

UFT Paraprofessionals Now Receive Lifetime Monthly Pension After Retirement


No matter how bad the UFT Representatives are in winning Grievances,- and/or Appeals, or solving workplace problems, there still remains the benefit of the right to receive a pension upon retirement. Many people want to remain members for that benefit, and I think they are absolutely right to do so!

I also believe in fighting for the rights you have whenever you believe that something is unfair, and your rights are not being honored. 

Betsy Combier

Automatic TRS pensions won for full-time paras

  New York Teacher

Decades of UFT advocacy bore fruit for the union’s paraprofessionals on Oct. 29 as a newly enacted state law guaranteed all UFT-represented full-time paraprofessionals — on the job now and in the future — will automatically become members of the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS). After they retire, TRS members receive a monthly pension for the rest of their lives.

“For more than three decades we’ve been fighting for this,” said Paraprofessionals Chapter Leader Shelvy Young-Abrams.

Though full-time teachers and other TRS titles are automatically enrolled in the pension system, the UFT’s paraprofessionals historically preferred to opt into the system because the cost was considered prohibitive. The union won them that right in 1983.

“When paraprofessionals first joined the union half a century ago, they were making $2.30 an hour; they felt they couldn’t afford it,” said Young-Abrams. “But later, we started having members come in calling for pension appointments and finding out they’re not in the pension system. That hurt.”

The UFT began lobbying for automatic enrollment for paraprofessionals and managed to persuade the state Legislature to pass legislation enabling it in 2000 and 2019, but both bills were vetoed by the governor in office at the time. Gov. Kathy Hochul signed this year’s legislation.

About 1,800 appointed, full-time paraprofessionals — 4.35% of those eligible — were not enrolled in TRS when the new law went into effect. They will join the retirement system as Tier 6 members, as will all future hires.

TRS was to begin reaching out to eligible paraprofessionals starting in December 2021. Both TRS and the UFT will hold informational meetings for eligible paraprofessionals.

In addition to their monthly pension check for life, UFT paraprofessionals will now have the right to participate in the TRS Tax-Deferred Annuity Program as well as the right before retirement to borrow from their TRS pension account. Their family will now receive a death benefit from TRS if they die after one year of service.

The new law does not apply to substitute paras, who have the option to join the Board of Education Retirement System. The law also does not affect paraprofessionals who have already enrolled in TRS.

“Gone are the days when a paraprofessional would reach the end of a long career to find out at a pension consultation that they had not enrolled in TRS and would have no pension,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “Our paras have devoted their lives to taking care of children. It is fitting that they and their families are taken care of as well.”

Related Topics: ParaprofessionalsPension