Yesterday’s contract ratification vote by Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) will help Gov. Cuomo reach his workforce savings targets in a tightly balanced state budget. Almost as important, Cuomo’s five-year deal with the largest state government union — including a three-year base pay freeze, nine furlough days, and an increase in employee health insurance contributions — creates a benchmark for public-sector collective bargaining throughout the state, where many other government employees are represented by CSEA locals.
As CSEA President Danny Donohue said after the vote, “these are not ordinary times.” Using the state contract as an example, local governments and school districts can press their unions to acknowledge reality as well.
Cuomo’s labor savings priorities shouldn’t be limited to state agencies; he also needs to stand firmly behind demands for similar concessions from employees of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which he controls. As the New York Post noted in an editorial today: “Already, John Samuelsen — president of the MTA’s chief union, the Transport Workers Union — has insisted that his 38,000 members absolutely, positively won’t accept the pay-freeze deal agreed to by leaders of the CSEA as well as the state’s second-largest union, the Public Employees Federation.”
PEF’s tentative contract is subject to a membership ratification vote that is scheduled be tallied on Sept. 27. Since PEF’s membership consists of higher-paid professional and technical employees, its acceptance of the contract will actually generate somewhat more in budgetary savings than the CSEA deal. And those savings are needed.