Thousands of people and five public sector unions are teeing off against New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other officials for prodding the city into divesting from the oil and gas industry.
More than 12,000 people have signed a petition designed to educate citizens about the risks divestment have on public pensions and the city’s tax infrastructure. The petition comes after a judge tossed out a lawsuit de Blasio filed in January targeting oil companies.
“The public response to this petition has been overwhelming and reflects the deep concerns working people and taxpayers have about forced divestment proposals,” Suffolk County Association of Municipal Employees President Daniel Levler said in a July 23 press statement.
Levler’s group is one of five unions that have signed an open letter urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo and de Blasio to rethink their divestment proposals. The petition was crafted by United Neighbors of New York, a coalition of taxpayers and public-sector unions representing millions of New Yorkers.
The Subway Surface Supervisors Association; the Uniformed Fire Alarm Dispatchers Benevolent Association; the Nassau County Correction Officers Benevolent Association; and the Police Conference of New York were among the five unions to sign the petition. (RELATED: Bill De Blasio Admits He Wants To Kill The Oil Industry With Global Warming Lawsuit)
New York City’s pension systems contains more than $193 billion in assets, most of which have been propped up by taxpayer contributions. Taxpayers funneled $9.3 billion into the moribund system in fiscal year 2017. Recent reports show the fund would nosedive still further if the city ousted fossil fuel investments.
The state’s Common Retirement Fund would lose up to $302 million over five years if de Blasio and other lawmakers divested the fund of fossil fuels and replaced them with green energy investments, according to a December 2017 report from Global Analytic Services.
New York City’s opposition to fossil fuels assets comes as at an inopportune time for public pensions.
Many cities can no longer afford retirement promises made to millions of public workers over many years. They are short $5 trillion, an amount that is roughly equal to the output of the world’s third-largest economy, according to a report Monday from The Wall Street Journal.
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