The still-unreleased deal between the Hochul Administration and the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), state government’s largest group of unionized workers, would award bonuses, backpay, and guaranteed raises the next three years, documents sent to union members show.

The tentative agreement, which was negotiated behind closed doors, covers about 56,000 blue- and white-collar state employees in executive branch agencies, including SUNY. It calls for:

  • two 2-percent raises, retroactive to April 2021 and April 2022;
  • $3,000 bonus payable in April 2023 or upon retirement, whichever is sooner; and
  • guaranteed 3-percent raises in April 2023, April 2024, and April 2025 (in addition to seniority-based step increases).

CSEA endorsed Governor Hochul’s re-election while the deal was being negotiated, citing her goal of “growing the state workforce.”

State officials, representing the taxpayers, appear to have won a few small concessions. Copays for doctor office visits under the Empire Plan, the state’s main employee health insurance plan, will rise from $20 to $25.

The $1,500 longevity payments currently made to state employees in their 5th, 10th, and 15th years will instead be paid in their 12th, 17th and 22nd years beginning in 2025.

The results here, however, will be mixed: some workers could get a second longevity check sooner (while CSEA-repped employees who have only been on the job for a year will get their first longevity pay in 2033 instead of 2026). This is a typical outcome in union contracts, which tend to be negotiated by more senior members.

The deal also gives covered employees a thirteenth paid state holiday, Juneteenth.

Lawmakers must vote to approve specific parts of the deal that requires changes to state law by passing what’s known as a “pay bill”—though New York lawmakers have not rejected such a bill in recent history, if ever.

In a memo related to the pay bill, Hochul’s office estimated the first-year cost for the contract would be $220 million, though it’s not clear whether that would include the bonus payments.

The memo indicates Hochul has preserved at least some form of authority to postpone pay raises in a fiscal emergency, which Governor Cuomo exercised at the onset of the pandemic.

 

About the Author

Tim Hoefer

Tim Hoefer is president & CEO of the Empire Center for Public Policy.

Read more by Tim Hoefer

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