Share this article

print logo

State's largest union agrees to wage freeze 5-Year Deal Pledges No Layoffs Tentative CSEA contract puts pressure on other units

The largest union of state workers has tentatively agreed to a three-year wage freeze, plus nine furlough days by the end of next year, to avoid layoffs for thousands of its members.

The Civil Service Employees Association and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo reached the deal, which includes a no-layoff pledge. It now puts pressure on the state's other labor groups for concessions to avoid pink slips.

The 66,000 members of CSEA still must ratify the five-year contract, which includes $1,000 paid to each worker in two installments, in 2013 and 2014, with no reductions in step or longevity payments.

In 2014 and 2015, CSEA members would get 2 percent per year wage increases.

The governor had threatened to lay off as many as 9,800 state workers, spread among all unions, without wage concessions totaling $450 million. If ratified, the CSEA contract would account for about $73 million of that $450 million goal, said Joshua Vlasto, a Cuomo spokesman.

"CSEA believes our members and all fair-minded New Yorkers will see this agreement as a responsible labor-management approach to facing the challenges in front of our state," Danny Donohue, CSEA president, said in a statement.

"Working together, we will turn this state around and get our economy moving once again," Cuomo said.

Wednesday night, Cuomo told reporters that the CSEA deal has "established a pattern" for the other unions, which he threatened with layoffs if no contract deals are reached.

The governor's strategy appears to be dividing public employee unions; CSEA did not help with a statewide rally this week held by the Public Employees Federation, the second-largest state workers union.

Before the CSEA deal was announced, PEF had said it has not heard from the Cuomo administration on its contract offer. Ken Brynien, PEF president, said Wednesday that the union "continues to wait" for a response from Cuomo.

"PEF stands ready to meet with the state's negotiators to reach an agreement that balances the needs of our members as well as the needs of the state," he said.

The CSEA deal would require workers to take nine unpaid days off by the end of next year; they would be paid for four of the days at the end of the five-year deal.

It also calls for higher employee health insurance payments based on pay grade level and minor increases in co-payments. For those at the Grade 10 level and above -- who make more than $34,521 annually -- annual premium payments would rise overall by 6 percent.

Ballots on ratifying the contract will be mailed to CSEA members July 22 and will be counted Aug. 15.

e-mail: tprecious@buffnews.com