Editor’s Note: The lawsuit discussed in this article affects ONLY New York State Executive Branch and Unified Court System retirees who retired between 1983 and 2011.
A U.S. District Court judge recently sided with the state in our class action lawsuit claiming the state illegally raised health insurance costs for retired New York state Executive Branch and Unified Court System employees.
CSEA plans to continue standing with our retiree members and appeal the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
“We are disappointed in the court’s decision, but we are not ending our fight to find justice for our affected retirees,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue. “We are determined to continue standing up for our members and all state retirees who have been financially harmed by these increases.”
In December 2011, CSEA and a coalition of other unions filed a federal lawsuit after the state increased the health insurance contribution percentage for state retirees who retired between 1983 and 2011, including thousands of CSEA members. Our union did not negotiate the health insurance increases.
Through our in-house Legal Department, which has been working on this case since its initial filing, our union has steadfastly sought justice for retirees in this case, as well as other instances in which former employers unilaterally raise health insurance rates or cut coverage.
The lawsuit claimed that the state violated the contracts that were in effect between CSEA and the state on the date when each retiree retired, as well as the Contracts Clause of the U.S. Constitution when the state raised the rates in 2011. The unions involved in the case argued that it is illegal for the state to increase costs for already retired members, and the increases were not negotiated.
In December 2017, CSEA filed a motion for summary judgment, a decision based on the merits of the case without going to a full trial, but there are no guarantees.
A federal judge denied our motion for summary judgment and granted the state’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. The court noted that the language in the contracts was clear and unambiguous and that there is no language providing for a fixed level of premium contribution in retirement.
We are appealing because we believe the judge’s decision was incorrectly decided.