It’s a new year, but public employees are still under attack over their pensions.

NY1, a cable news television station in New York City, hosted an interesting forum with four of the city’s top labor leaders representing city employees, teamsters, and teachers.

The state of New York is facing a $9 billion budget shortfall.

About 9,500 jobs are on the chopping block and fire fighters will take a heavy hit with 20 companies being threatened to shut down.

Labor leaders said during the panel discussion that it is unfair “to balance the city budget on the backs of public employees.” Some labor leaders called on New York City officials to be more accountable with finances and to examine all revenue options before deciding to cut jobs and benefits for public employees.

“The concern we have is that we hear a lot of noise and rhetoric from the mayor and other people and if they try to use this economic downturn for a political power play versus trying to find a way to help everyone get through this, it is very disappointing and sad on behalf of their leadership if that is what they are trying to do,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers.

“The unions of the city and state have a rich history of being there when things get tough and we are prepared to work with anyone to move the agenda forward. But it has to be a respectful relationship and we don’t know if it will happen at this point.”