Cuomo Threatens Layoffs After Union Rejects Contract

Governor Andrew Cuomo said the second largest state worker's union should reconsider its decision to reject a contract with concessions aimed at avoiding layoffs.

He had warned that if the Public Employees Federation union didn't agree to wage freeze and concessions, including paying more for their health care, thousands would be laid off.

"The members of the Public Employee Federation (PEF) have made their decision on a contract that would have protected them against the state needing to lay off their workers in order to achieve the required workforce savings passed as part of this year’s budget," the governor said in a statement.

Governor Cuomo’s Director of State Operations Howard Glaser also said in a statement that "members of the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), who agreed to a layoff protection as part of their ratified collective bargaining agreement, will not be subject to the approximately 3,500 layoffs that will begin today."

PEF President Ken Brynien said he hopes the governor’s negotiators will "immediately return to the bargaining table to work out an agreement which our members will ratify."

According to the union, the vote for the contract went 19,629 against and 16,906 for. It was the first time the union, which represents 56,000 professional, scientific, and technical employees, rejected a contract negotiated by its leadership.

"The decision to reject the tentative agreement was made by our rank-and-file members who clearly feel they are being asked to sacrifice more than others, particularly in light of the pending expiration of the state’s millionaire’s tax," said Brynien in a statement.

The proposal included a three year wage freeze followed by a 2 percent pay increase in 2014 and 2015 and lump-sum "retention payments" in 2013 and 2014.

With the Associated Press