Nassau appointees still under wage freeze

NIFA Chairman Jon Kaiman looks on during the NIFA Chairman Jon Kaiman looks on during the Nassau Interim Finance Authority meeting at the Long Island Marriott in Uniondale on Friday, May 2, 2014. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

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Although Nassau's three-year wage freeze was lifted for most county union employees, salary increases remain suspended for nearly 600 county appointees.

Jon Kaiman, chairman of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, said Wednesday that the county's financial control board did not include appointees -- workers who can be hired and fired at will -- in the labor deals it approved early Saturday.

"They are not, in fact, lifted yet," Kaiman said of the workers, who are referred to as "ordinance" employees.

After intense last-minute negotiations, NIFA at 2 a.m. Saturday approved new contracts for the Civil Service Employees Association, Police Benevolent Association, Detectives Association and Superior Officers Association that removed the wage freeze. The correction officers union is still negotiating.

County elected officials, including County Executive Edward Mangano, had awarded pay raises to appointees last year and early this year. They cited an opinion from the former county attorney that the freeze covered only members of collective bargaining units.

Newsday reported in January that 32 appointees received pay hikes, ranging from $5,000 to $35,000 annually, while another 25 appointees received new job titles along with the increased pay. The increases cost about $800,000 annually, including fringe benefits.

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NIFA members insisted then the freeze was intended to cover all county workers, and directed Mangano to provide a revised budget to reflect the salary increases. NIFA never received the requested information.

But NIFA made its point when it reimposed the freeze in March. This time the control board adopted a resolution that specifically named ordinance employees as workers whose salary increases were suspended. Nassau has 577 ordinance employees, including about 200 in the district attorney's office, according to the first quarter report of the county budget office.

As of March 31, there were 6,590 union employees, according to the county Office of Management and Budget.

Kaiman said ordinance employees would be considered when NIFA considers a new contract for correction officers next month.

He noted that the administration had to show how it could pay for the union workers raises. Now, he said, the county "has to assert it can pay for the [appointee] raises."

Brian Nevin, a Mangano spokesman, said it was the county's understanding that appointee salaries remain frozen until NIFA takes further action. He added that the earlier appointee raises were "all within the budget."

Mangano and other officials said earlier the appointees deserved raises because they took on additional duties as the administration consolidated and downsized government to save millions of dollars in operating costs.

John Jaronczyk, president of the Sheriff's Correction Officers Benevolent Association, said Wednesday that he hoped to have a new deal finalized soon. He declined to give a more precise timetable.

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