Albany’s collective bargaining confusion

by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

Now that the state Public Employees Federation (PEF) has rejected a proposed contract, Governor Andrew Cuomo is moving forward with 3,500 layoffs.  Or, then again, maybe not.

This article in the Albany Times Union suggests there is an 80 percent likelihood the governor and union will reach a new deal without layoffs.  The newspaper also reports that “Cuomo is demanding that any modifications [to the rejected PEF contract] have no costs.”

“No costs”?  How about those savings of “$75 million this fiscal year, $92 million next fiscal year, and almost $400 million over the contract term” that the governor was supposedly counting on?

Maybe the Times Union misunderstood what it was told, or someone in the Capitol wasn’t very clear.  Maybe the paper’s anonymous source(s) in the administration meant that any “tweaks” to the PEF contract should not reduce the net value of the concessions Cuomo had identified as his price for avoiding layoffs.  Or, then again, maybe not.  The signals at the moment are confusing, to say the least.

Meanwhile:

  • A local pol said the impact of a projected 1,149 PEF member layoffs in the Capital Region would be (wait for it) … yes, “devastating.” Which is no doubt an accurate description of the impact on affected households.  But to keep the economic impact in context: in the last three years, the Capital Region has lost 9,500 private-sector jobs, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.  And during the same period, also according to BLS, state government in Albany-Schenectady-Troy area has shed 6,200 jobs entirely through attrition and early retirement.
  • Although they have yet to agree to their own contract deal, Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) members working for the state court system are learning that they will be subject to the same change in health insurance premiums called for in a new contract ratified by CSEA’s executive branch employees last month.  The existing contract between the United Court System (UCS) and CSEA’s court unit specifies that CSEA-represented court employees receive the same health insurance benefits as executive branch workers, according to a union memo passed along by a court employee.

- E.J. McMahon is the President at the Empire Center for Public Policy.