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A Political Promise Government Employees Wish Cuomo Didn't Keep

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

WNYC

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office has sent out about 3,500 pink slips to state workers. Their union, the Public Employees Federation, voted down a contract deal on Tuesday. It would've frozen wages and increased health insurance costs in exchange for avoiding layoffs.

Members like Gale Baptiste said they were willing to make some of the concessions the Governor proposed, but a contract that included no raises for three years, with added out of pocket expenses, was too much to ask.

"Cost of living is going up, everything is increasing how are we going to survive in this kind of economy with that kind of contract. It's deplorable.”

Baptiste has worked as an emergency room nurse at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn for seven years. She makes about $70,000 and is a divorced mother of one.

She said when fellow PEF members with the State Corrections Department who were targeted to lose their jobs in the layoffs encouraged fellow members to vote no in spite of the threat, she paid attention. "They were willing to tell us to vote no because making so many concessions would set a bad precedent."

Members of PEF, the second largest state employees union, voted down the contract by less than 3,000 votes.

Donald Morgenstern, a research scientist with SUNY, said he voted for the contract in spite of it being the worst proposal he’s seen in 36 years.

"In order to try and save jobs and hopefully get them back to work, I voted yes but it was a close decision because I thought we were being blackmailed and bullied by the governor."

Governor Cuomo has repeatedly said rising state workforce costs are unsustainable in the current economy. "The Legislature passed a budget that made clear that reducing these costs would be achieved either through the collective bargaining process or layoff."

The state's largest public workers union, the Civil Service Employees Association, approved a similar contract in June.

The largest number of layoffs will be in the state’s Mental Health, Corrections and Transportation Departments.

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Comments [3]

Ed from NYC

The only PEF members who encourage "no" votes were those with 10, 15, or more years seniority and had zero to slim chances of receiving the layoff notices.

Sep. 30 2011 09:01 AM
Jim H from Brooklyn

The Nurses will find other jobs as easy as pie. The rest will get overtime like they never knew. It the end the state will pay more due to extra overtime. The nurses will get other jobs maybe in less then a week. The job market is that good for them. PEF should have turned down the contract. It was blackmail!

Sep. 29 2011 01:03 PM
Prester John

A truly shameful and selfish decision on the part of the union employees.

Under this scenario, everybody loses. Services are cut, so the state loses, and the employees who lose their jobs go from being in the overpaid union class to the growing unemployed (and unemployable) class, increasing income inequality.

Sep. 29 2011 11:34 AM

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