Gov. Andrew Cuomo has just announced a tentative contract agreement with one of the state’s smaller unions, including some potentially significant labor concessions that could set a pattern for achieving the $450 million in workforce savings assumed in the new state budget.

Based on the governor’s press release, key aspects of the deal with Law Enforcement Council 82 include the following:

  • a three-year pay freeze on pay, including longevity step increments;
  • an increase in employee share of health insurance premiums, from 10 percent to 20 percent for individual coverage, and from 25 percent to 35 percent for family coverage;
  • new co-pays for hospital services and medical visits, and encouragement of mail-order prescription drug refills;
  • a reduction in the amount of sick time that can be credited to health insurance for retired employees; and
  • exclusion of sick days from accrual of time worked for purposes of qualifying for overtime compensation.

Council 82 had been one of the few remaining holdouts from the 2007-11 state contract cycle, when major unions including CSEA and PEF agreed to base pay hikes of 14 percent, plus some extras.  As reward for their concessions going forward, Council 82 members will retroactively get the same settlement for that period.

Council 82 is a relatively small union, covering 1,160 State University police, Park Police, Department of Environmental Conservation Officers and Forest Rangers. If other state unions make the same concessions, what the governor projects as “system-wide” savings would add up to $430 million — including $178 million for the increase in health insurance premiums, $196 million from the change sin co-pays and prescription drug refill, $45 million from the change in sick-leave credit and $11 million from the overtime reform. At least it would appear that way, assuming the term “system-wide” is translated to mean “if the same changes applied to the entire state workforce.” Indeed, on a statewide basis, a freeze on step increments would save another $140 million a year for as long as it lasts.

A key unanswered question: State labor contracts usually have a duration of four years, but the governor’s news release describes a pay freeze that lasts for three years.  So what’s the term of the Council 82 deal? Any back-loaded goodies in there?  ** UPDATE: A journalistic source quotes the governor’s office as saying it’s a three-year contract. That’s another big plus for Cuomo — because if steps aren’t included in the agreement when it expires, there will be no Triborough effect. **

The health insurance savings seem genuinely significant, with those “system-wide” numbers amounting to a 19 percent savings for taxpayers in this category (i.e., premiums for active employees). The sick leave credit is less impressive, amounting to just over 3 percent of the $1.3 billion the state will spend on retiree health care in 2011-12. However, the governor has more running room on this, since unions in the past have agreed to study the possibility of changing the eligibility guidelines for retiree health care.

The missing details will determine whether, on balance, this a major breakthrough. Based on what’s been released so far, it may be a promising pattern.

P.S. — Anonymous commentator “Park Cop” (#5 below) points out an error in my original post: Council 82 was not a holdout in the 2007-11 contract round, but had been without a contract since 2005.  There’s obviously a longer back-story here.  No doubt an interesting one.

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

You may also like

The Health Department takes a big step toward COVID transparency

The state Health Department released a flurry of 20 COVID-related data sets this week, taking its biggest step yet toward full transparency about the state's pandemic response. Read More

Remembering the scandal that brought down Health Commissioner Howard Zucker

The resignation of Dr. Howard Zucker as state health commissioner marks the end of a term marred by scandal over his role in managing the coronavirus pandemic. The much-debated compelling nursing homes to admit COVID-positive patients, though it origi Read More

After 10 weeks, all but five of the Empire Center’s 63 requests for pandemic data remain unfulfilled

Over the 10 days that Hochul has been in office, there has been no further progress on the Empire Center's record requests. Read More

New York’s health benefits remain the second-costliest in the U.S.

New York's health benefit costs increased faster than the national average in 2020, leaving it with the second-least affordable coverage in the U.S. The state's average total cost f Read More

Another Hochul To-Do: Timely Financial Reporting

The state will spend a record $212 billion in the current 2022 Fiscal Year, under the budget its elected leaders adopted in April. Read More

Can Cuomo still be impeached?

Andrew Cuomo and Donald Trump have more in common than boyhood homes in Queens. Like Trump, Cuomo could still face impeachment and an impeachment trial despite a promise to resign as Governor later this month. Read More

The Gov’s pension

There are several (dozens? hundreds?) of unanswered questions as the fallout from Andrew Cuomo's resignation earlier today continues. Among those are questions related to his pension, some of which can be answered, sort of. Read More

The Health Department’s FOIL Responses Signal an Indefinite Wait for Pandemic Data

The quest for comprehensive data on New York's coronavirus pandemic hit a bureaucratic roadblock this week Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries: Info@EmpireCenter.org

Press Inquiries: Press@EmpireCenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!