PEF votes down contract offer

ESP from libraryUpdated Tuesday night

The Public Employees Federation, one of the two largest state employee unions, announced today that its membership voted down the Cuomo administration's contract offer 54-46. [PEF]

A Cuomo admin official says "approximately 3,500 layoffs" will start today. [State of Politics]

Andrew Cuomo says he's urging PEF's members to reconsider because "in this economic reality, rising state workforce costs are unsustainable" (full statement pasted after the jump).

The contract offer included a three-year hold on raises, increased employee contributions to healthcare, and furloughs. It also included a no-layoffs pledge. CSEA, the other big state employee union, approved a similar contract. [Cuomo admin] [NYT]

Said PEF president Ken Brynien in a statement: "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." He calls for the Cuomo admin to continue bargaining and "resist laying off thousands of our members as he has threatened."

The Cuomo admin has been warning that a rejection of the contract could lead to layoffs -- notices had gone out to 700 PEF members ahead of the tentative contract. [TU]

PEF represents 56,000 public employees.

Cuomo's statement:

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.
In this economic reality, rising state workforce costs are unsustainable, as the members of the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), the state's largest union, recognized when they overwhelmingly passed an identical contract. The Legislature passed a budget that made clear that reducing these costs would be achieved either through the collective bargaining process or through layoffs.
I urge them to reconsider.


Hmm...layoff 3000-plus state employees because there's supposedly insufficient funds, with the resulting decrease of public services, but spend $400 million of the public's money annually to help fund 6,900 private sector jobs in the "Global 450 Consortium."

Government? Yes, please, but make mine a corporatocracy: government by the corporation for the corporation.

Those morons. :( Lots of innocent people will probably lose their jobs now.

Unbelievably cynical move here. Bickering over what amounts to a few hundred dollars so lets lay off potentially thousands of people. This is where unions get us this day in age.

To Bill: Is it the Unions and workers fault NYS Gov't is broken?? The State is under the direction and control of the Governor and Legislator with agency Commissioners responsible for carrying out the laws. State Agencies like OMRDD/OPWDD, OGS, Health Dept, are just a few of the agencies in NY that have been mis-managed for DECADES, yet what do we as taxpayers seen to remedy our broken gov't??? The only solution is to layoff thousands of people that actually DO THE WORK. Management (M/C) positions have balloon in NYS Gov't with the avg cost per position at +$100k. And they're only job is to direct taxpayer $$s to their favorite charity/friend(s).
So please think again and ask why no effort is given by the Governor and Legislature towards fixing our broken gov't other than laying off thousands of people who actually DO THE WORK.

Bob - I thought there must be something wrong with my calculations when I first read about the "incentives" paid to the Malta plant. They could give thousands of dollars to every small business in Saratoga County and still come out ahead over that deal. But now I see what I was missing - the drive for a corporatocracy.

the $400 million went to SUNY, not private business

People need to stop saying that there was a "no lay off guarantee". Page 5 in the contract says that the governor wouldn't lay off the people to save money. But if the SAGE commission, or financial situation of the state changes, or facilities closing or they wanted to restructure, they they could lay-off at their discretion. Stop being so naive. PEF would have passed the contract and 3 months down the road, offices would have be restructured, facilities closed and due to the "economic down turn" of the states economy, Lay-offs would have commenced.

KG, you had me until you started spewing the ignorant statements about M/C, or "Management/Confidential" employees.

What I think you mean, are not M/C employees, but EXEMPT employees. While it is true that *most* exempt employees also happen to be M/C, *not all of them are* (some are PEF, for example), and the two classifications are not the same thing.

Exempt employees serve "at the pleasure" of the Governor (or, more immediately, the Commissioner of the agency they work for) and have no civil service protections and can be terminated at any time. Exempt jobs have no (mandatory) minimum qualifications (most have "preferred" qualifications, but the agency is not bound by a hard and fast minimum to fill the position), and you do not need to take an examination to be hired. And, as with anything, some of the employees in these positions work their tails off, and some live with their heads in the clouds. This is not new to any industry, public or private - it's just when you work for the public sector, you are under a microscope. In fact, many exempt employees are "career civil servants" that have worked hard and proven themselves, and now have positions of very high responsibility. I do think there is definitely some fat to be trimmed at the exempt level, however unfortunately even though many of the positions are very necessary and many of the people in those jobs DO work hard, they are POLITICAL APPOINTMENTS, and most of them are going to be spared over the rank-and-file. Is this right? In most cases, probably not.

M/C, on the other hand, are simply positions that, because of the type of work they perform, cannot legally be represented by a union. They are specifically defined in the Taylor Law (aka, Article 14 of the NYS Civil Service Law). Positions in human resources offices, for example , are M/C. Most of the Department of Civil Service is M/C. So is most of the Division of the Budget. These people have to take examinations to get hired, just like everyone else. And!!! M/Cs have not seen raises since 2008 - they did get a "step" in 2009 (it's called a "performance advance" for M/Cs, but it's the same thing), but aside from that, they've gotten nothing. Exempt employees, meanwhile, though on paper they didn't get raises, raises can be given to them via another back-door process. That's not the case with rank-and-file M/Cs. They are competitive class employees just like the union members.

I no longer work for the State, but when I did I was a Grade 18, M/C employee, which for those unfamiliar with the grading system is a "first level" professional. I had a good salary and benefits for someone my age with my education and experience - it wasn't overly generous, it wasn't underpaid, it was fair market value. I left the State, because I was offered something better elsewhere that was more along the lines of where I want to take my career. I was one of those HR M/Cs, and I will say that while this wasn't the only reason I left, I am very glad that I won't have to administer layoffs in my new position. It's heart-wrenching and awful.

Maybe if all the big shots took a pay cut the rest of the state employees won't have to suffer. You can all say what you want but my husband is a state employee and put himself in danger everyday to do his job. So for everyone that thinks that state works are lazy and over paid please walk a day in my husbands shoes.

"PEF wife" is right: The Powers That Be (Cuomo among them) were going to do layoffs either sooner or later; this was just an excuse to get started sooner.

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