More than a year and a half after its most recent contract expired, New York’s second-largest state worker’s union has reached a tentative three-year labor agreement with the Cuomo administration.
The deal, which would affect approximately 54,000 Public Employees Federation members statewide, calls for three years of annual 2 percent wage hikes, compounded, and no increase in health care costs, according to news releases from the governor and the union.
The contract still needs the approval of the PEF executive board and then ratification by a vote of the full membership. It also calls for the union and administration to continue working on ways to contain health care costs, which were previously described as a sticking point between the two parties.
“The new contract strikes a balance of ensuring that our public servants are treated fairly, while reaffirming our commitment to fiscal discipline that taxpayers deserve,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in the prepared announcement. “This is an important step in our efforts to maintain New York’s outstanding workforce.”
In his own statement, PEF President Wayne Spence said he was “proud to have been a part of this process” and is looking forward to its ratification.
While final details remained unavailable late Wednesday, PEF noted on its website that the deal “includes no health care concessions and no negotiated changes in health care benefits or costs.”
“The contract provides no increases in member co-pays, deductibles and no other increases in out-of-pocket costs to members for the full three-year term of the contract,” the union said.
A release from the Cuomo administration said “Both the state and PEF agree to work together on a plan to reduce out-of-control health care costs.”
The union’s executive board is set to meet Nov. 16 and 17. If approved by them, it would go to the membership for a vote.
The four-year contract that expired at the end of March 2015 included a three-year pay freeze followed by a 2 percent raise.
Union members earlier this year also received a 2 percent increase retroactive to April 2015, when the old deal ran out.
The 2011 agreement was difficult for the union to accept, and was reached only after Cuomo threatened extensive layoffs if concessions — including the pay freeze and higher health care costs — weren’t accepted. An initial five-year contract was rejected by the rank and file.
While a majority of PEF members ultimately approved the final four-year offer, the union also ousted then-President Ken Brynien, who had led members through the long negotiating process. He was replaced by Susan Kent, who last year lost the presidency to Spence.
There were no apparent layoff threats this time around.
PEF represents largely white-collar state employees, including scientists and professionals as well as those who help carry out various state programs at the administrative level.
While details remained sparse, the Empire Center, a fiscally conservative think tank that follows state spending, calculated that the raises would cost about $445 million over the life of the deal.
The Empire Center also noted that a 2 percent raise is in keeping with Cuomo’s overall cap on state operating costs.
That boost is slightly above the Consumer Price Index, a marker for inflation, that has been running about 1.5 percent annually.
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