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Cuomo: I'm Open to Tweaks in Union Contract

Friday, September 30, 2011

WNYC

Governor Andrew Cuomo said he's keeping conversations open with the Public Employees Federation as the state's second largest labor union prepares what it calls "new ideas" for a contract agreement.

The Cuomo administration has sent pink slips to 3,500 PEF members this week, following the union's vote rejecting an earlier contract deal calling for wage freezes and higher healthcare premiums.

Cuomo said Friday on the "The Capitol Pressroom" show on WCNY Radio that he would consider tweaks to the contract deal, with some caveats.

"Of course I'm open to tweaks," he said. "We're talking about 3,500 people. Now, it depends on how you define tweak."

Cuomo said he did not consider tweaks to mean more state contribution or job security, and that whatever reallocation of benefits within the union membership has always been up to the union leadership.

PEF has said it hopes to make changes in benefits such as health care that could lower the increased cost for the lowest-paid members.

Union president Ken Brynien said in a statement that the union remains hopeful it can reach an agreement. A union spokeswoman said that a re-vote on the same deal likely won't make a difference.

PEF workers who have received pink slips have been told their last day of work will be October 19.

Cuomo had previously said the layoffs could only be avoided if members ratified the tentative contract. The union has not immediately responded to a request for comment.

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