Stephen Cassidy, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA) Local 94, has been appointed by New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro as executive director of the New York City Fire Pension Fund – a new position established by the approval of “corpus” funding by the state legislature. Corpus funding authorizes the Fire Pension Fund, currently part of the FDNY, to be spun off as a separate entity from the fire department.
Cassidy will resign his position with the UFA in order to accept this newly created administrative post effective November 1, 2016.
“I am honored to have been selected by Commissioner Nigro to lead the establishment of an independent agency to operate the Fire Pension Fund and enhance the quality and level of service afforded to fire fighters and fire officers as they approach retirement after providing years of selfless service to the citizens of New York City,” says Cassidy. “Having represented many thousands of fire fighters who have retired in the last 14 years – to the more than 8,000 on the job today and the thousands more who will join the department in the years to come – this is an incredible opportunity to continue to serve them for the extraordinary work they do.”
UFA Local 94 Vice President James Slevin will assume the duties as president for the remainder of Cassidy’s term through April 30, 2017, with elections already scheduled for March 2017. Slevin is a 21-year veteran and a member of Ladder 7 in Manhattan. He has served as Vice President of Local 94 for 14 years and during that entire time has been a trustee of the FDNY Pension Fund. In August, he was elected IAFF 1st District Vice President at the 2016 IAFF Convention.
“I would like to thank Steve Cassidy for his 14 years of service to the UFA, as the union’s longest-serving president, and achieving many, many accomplishments on behalf of UFA members. I am confident that he will continue to serve the members with the same passion he exhibited as UFA president,” says Slevin. “I am committed to making sure the members of the UFA continue to be represented in the manner they deserve, having their rights protected.”
As executive director of the Fire Pension Fund, Cassidy, as an employee of the Board of Trustees of the Fund, will oversee the changeover to a separate organizational structure for the Fund, and oversee all administrative and operational matters. Among the key functions of the Fire Pension Fund are providing accurate and timely payment of benefits to more than 17,000 retirees and beneficiaries, and educating and counseling members in making informed decisions concerning their pension benefit options.
The Fire Pension Fund is the last of the city’s five pension systems to be approved for corpus funding. Previous legislation authorized corpus funding for the New York City Employees Retirement System (NYCERS), as well as the Police, Teachers, and BERS (Board of Education Retirement System, covering all Department of Education employees other than teachers). Under corpus funding, the administrative and operational functions for each system are financed by pension system funds instead of the city budget.
Under the legislation, approved by the state legislature and signed by Governor Cuomo, the Fire Commissioner – who serves as Chairperson of the Board of Trustees for the Fire Pension Fund – is authorized to appoint a uniformed member of service as executive director of the fund.
“Steve Cassidy has served as a Trustee of the Fire Pension Fund for more than 14 years and his knowledge of the system is unequalled by any uniformed member,” says Commissioner Nigro. “Combined with his administrative and managerial experience leading the 8,000 member UFA, he possesses a unique skill set that will enable him to lead the move of our Pension Unit from a bureau in the FDNY to a stand-alone agency. His willingness to step down from his union role to take on the new responsibility is a benefit to the department, and moreover to the thousands of FDNY members he’ll continue to serve in this new role.”
As a result of corpus funding, the Fire Department will save an estimated $2.3 million annually, as 35 current FDNY Pension Unit employees will come under the newly created Fire Pension Fund. The Executive Director will be a non-voting position within the Fire Pension System. Oversight of the Fire Pension Fund will continue to be comprised of representatives appointed by the Mayor, Fire Commissioner, NYC Comptroller, Commissioner of Finance and representatives of both the UFA and Uniformed Fire Officers Association (UFOA) Local 854.