Nassau lawmakers back correction officers deal
The Nassau County Legislature has approved a deal with the 900-member correction officers union that provides pay hikes totaling about 13 percent through 2017 and ends a three-year wage freeze.
Lawmakers yesterday unanimously approved the memorandum of agreement with the Correction Officers Benevolent Association, which officials said will cost $19 million over four years. It is the last of five contracts with major county unions, whose wages had been frozen since March 2011.
"They'll always be a step behind, and they'll never get to the level of pay they'd have had without the freeze, but this is a settlement agreement," said John Jaronczyk, the correction union president. He noted that 85 members have been stuck at $30,000 salaries under the freeze.
The agreement between Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and the union came after officials scrambled to get the other four unions to sign a waiver that the deal wouldn't prompt them to reopen their contracts in the hopes of securing better terms. The waivers were secured about 5 p.m.
Correction officers will get an immediate 3.5 percent pay hike; a 3.75 percent raise in 2015; 3.5 percent in 2016 and 2 percent in 2017. Some will also get service time step increases.
Like the four union deals approved in May, the correction agreement calls for members to give up one annual raise that would have been due in 2013 and one step increase. New members will pay 15 percent toward their health insurance if they choose the premium plan; they also can choose a less costly plan and not contribute.
The Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a state monitoring board that controls Nassau's finances, also must approve the deal. NIFA chairman Jon Kaiman has said "there is no indication that it will get held up."
Mangano has said the five union deals, estimated to cost $120 million over four years, will be paid for with revenue sources including a series of fee increases and new speed cameras in school safety zones.
The rules committee, by a 4-3 party line vote, approved a contract for outside counsel to represent the county in a lawsuit filed by family of a Hofstra University student killed last year in a police shooting.
Leahey & Johnson P.C., of Manhattan, will receive a maximum of $250,000 to defend the county against the civil wrongful death suit filed earlier this year in State Supreme Court. The suit claims Nassau officials "recklessly and unnecessarily" endangered Andrea Rebello, 21, a Tarrytown native who died after a police bullet struck her in May 2013.
Authorities said the shooting occurred as an armed intruder, Dalton Smith, used Rebello as a human shield during a standoff inside Rebello's apartment.
Legislative leaders said they are committed to having a public hearing in front of the full legislature before the rules committee considers Mangano's 20-year deal with a private firm to operate the county sewer system. However, the vote might not occur July 14, as Mangano wants.
Nassau would pay United Water of New Jersey $57.4 million a year to manage county wastewater treatment plants, pumping stations and sewers. The administration says that United Water would hire a portion of the sewer system's 300-member county workforce, saving at least $10 million annually in salaries and benefits while improving environmental protections.
Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) and Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said lawmakers might need more time to vet the deal, and that a committee vote could come in late July if it does not happen July 14.