Nassau County could owe police $50M in back pay if PBA deal OKd

Nassau PBA President James Carver, along with members Nassau PBA President James Carver, along with members of the Nassau PBA, community activists and firefighters, rally against the proposed closure of police precincts outside the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola (Feb. 6, 2012) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Nassau would owe all of the estimated $50 million in pay increases it has withheld from police officers in the past two years if a deal between County Executive Edward Mangano and the Police Benevolent Association is approved as written.

Mangano and PBA president James Carver say their recent memorandum of understanding provides long-term "structural" savings in the form of a lower salary scale for new hires and requiring health care contributions in certain cases.

But the deal -- which extends the officers' current contract by two years, through 2017 -- has limited concessions from current PBA members, according to a draft copy obtained late Friday by Newsday.

Chief among them, veteran officers have agreed to take their annual 3.75 percent wage increases on July 1 instead of Jan. 1, in 2014 and 2015. They would also defer some holiday pay until leaving county employment and be offered fewer daily vacation slots per precinct or unit, which Mangano says will cut overtime costs.

The PBA deal would save Nassau $320 million through 2017, according to Mangano, though he has yet to provide a detailed breakdown of savings.

His administration said Saturday that viewing the deal only in terms of what the roughly 2,200 current PBA members did and did not receive is "narrow-minded."

"This is not about having our workforce go through pain," said First Deputy Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter. "The objective was to realize long-term savings."

When announcing the deal on Sept. 6, the administration said it would have to pay only half of officers' frozen wage increases from 2011 to 2013. Between all labor unions, Nassau may owe more than $230 million in retroactive pay if it loses an appeal of a February court decision that said the county's state financial control board, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, didn't have authority to impose a freeze.

The draft agreement between the county and PBA, however, calls for the entirety of officers' frozen wage increases, which the union estimates at about $50 million, to be returned by the end of 2015. It also calls for officers to receive a total of 3.45 percent in step pay increases in 2016 and 2017.

Since the initial court decision on the wage freeze favored the PBA, Carver said he expects to recover all of the back pay, no matter what.

"We're in the driver's seat," he said Saturday of the court case. "But even though we're in the position we're in, we're still willing to sit there and provide a compromise that gives us structural savings."

Mangano, who wants to hire 150 cops immediately after the deal is approved, has said Nassau would save $300,000 per officer due to the new hires' lower pay scale and their first-ever pension and health care contributions. New officers would contribute only 15 percent to health care if they choose the top-tier plan, but Krumpter notes that if they choose a lesser plan, the county still saves 15 percent by paying less to the plan provider.

Nassau's deal with the PBA is similar to one Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone struck last year with his police union. That pact provided steady salary increases for current officers, but made new hires pay into their health care.

In Nassau, skeptics remain. NIFA last week issued a statement citing "apparent flaws" in the reported details of the repayment of the frozen wages. A board source, who requested anonymity, added Saturday: "We've received neither communication nor information from the county."

PBA members are expected to vote on the deal by month's end. The Nassau County Legislature would then be asked to approve before it goes to NIFA.

 

TENTATIVE PBA DEAL

 

Highlights of the tentative pact between Nassau County and the Police Benevolent Association:

Extends existing collective bargaining agreement by two years, through end of 2017.

Awards officers all wage increases frozen since 2011, spreading payments between 2013 and 2015; PBA would drop lawsuit challenging freeze.

Delays annual wage increases for 2013, 2014 and 2015 from January to July

Provides step pay increases totaling 3.45 percent during last year of deal.

Reduces amount of officers per precinct or unit that can take vacation at once.

Sets lower salary scale for new hiresand requires them to contribute to pension and health care plans.

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