PEF Secretary Treasurer Joe Donahue (center, in jacket) addresses a Tier 6 rally on a landing of the Million Dollar Staircase inside the State Capitol on March 5, 2024.
PEF Secretary Treasurer Joe Donahue (center, in jacket) addresses a Tier 6 rally on a landing of the Million Dollar Staircase inside the New York State Capitol on March 5, 2024.


March 7, 2024 — Since April 2012, all employees hired by New York State have been part of what’s called “Tier 6” of the pension plan. PEF knew it was a bad idea by Gov. Cuomo then, and more than a decade later, the union continues to fight for improvements. 

FIX TIER 6!In 2022, PEF and other unions successfully advocated to change the vesting period for Tier 6 members from 10 years to five years. But more change is needed, and many Tier 6 members are making sure their voices are heard loud and clear. 

Members from PEF, NYSUT, other unions and legislators took to the steps of the Million Dollar Staircase inside the Capitol Building in Albany on March 5, 2024, to rally alongside one another. The message was clear, Tier 6 is not working, it is not retaining workers and it makes it harder for the state to attract more workers. 

PEF Secretary-Treasurer Joe Donahue shared the union’s message of solidarity with the crowd, focusing on the state’s inability to retain workers, but more importantly keep up with the competition from the private sector. Donahue said one of the reasons the governor has not been able to fill the tens of thousands of vacancies across the State is because skilled professionals are attracted to the better benefits and retirement plans offered by the private sector.  

“Back when I started with my agency (Department of Taxation), we had a pension, decent benefits, and decent wages—the private sector now controls that. And we’re not only unable to recruit, we’re unable to retain,” Donahue said. “When people say I’m a Tier 4 person, Tier 6 doesn’t affect me — well, sure it does! It affects all of us.” 

Donahue added that he’s fighting to improve Tier 6 not only for PEF members, but also for his son, who is a fourth-grade teacher currently in Tier 6. 

“We need to fix Tier 6 so that we can maintain the amazing public servants that we have right now,” said NYSUT President Melinda Person.  

Mario Cilento, president of the New York State AFL-CIO, pledged support from the entire statewide labor movement.  

“We are asking that both houses of the legislature and the governor work with us now to address Tier 6 in this budget!” he said. 

Legislators like Senator Robert Jackson, Jessica Ramos, John Mannion and Samra Brouk also affirmed their support in the continued efforts to fix Tier 6. 

“You’re here because the leadership of your unions said this was necessary, to come here and stand up for what belongs to you!” said Senator Jackson. 

PEF has an ongoing letter writing campaign about Tier 6 targeting state lawmakers. If you haven’t signed it – or any of the other letters supporting PEF’s budget priorities – please do so, here. 

Tier 6 vs. Tier 4 comparisions