Nassau's main police union filed a lawsuit Tuesday to get members three years' back pay after the wages were frozen in 2011 by the state-run Nassau Interim Finance Authority.
The lawsuit, which names NIFA and its members, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Comptroller George Maragos, was filed by the Police Benevolent Association in State Supreme Court in Mineola. It mirrored a similar suit filed last week by Local 830 of the Civil Service Employees Association, the largest county union.
NIFA, a fiscal oversight board created by state law in 2000, took control of Nassau's finances in 2011. The agency declared a financial emergency and suspended all contractual pay increases countywide.
Yesterday's suit contends that NIFA can monitor county finances but its authority to block county spending expired in 2008.
The presidents of both unions said Tuesday that, even as they filed the lawsuits, they had renewed hope of reaching a settlement that would be agreeable to NIFA and to Mangano.
CSEA president Jerry Laricchiuta said he met over the weekend with Mangano and new NIFA chairman Jon Kaiman and the state agency "placed down some ground rules and parameters we could never get from the past chairman, Ron Stack."
Laricchiuta declined to say what the parameters were but he said they "absolutely" made a negotiated deal more likely.
PBA president James Carver said he met separately over the weekend with Mangano and NIFA. Carver said Kaiman told him that he and Mangano could come to the board informally to discuss contract terms.
Kaiman, who took over last month, said Tuesday that he told union leaders they could bring their proposals to NIFA and the board's staff would analyze the numbers with them.
"My approach is to keep the door open to dialogue," Kaiman said. "We don't have to wait until we have a final contract. . . . If this saves some steps in the process, so much the better."
Mangano and the PBA want to assure NIFA that a tentative renegotiated contract will generate $320 million in savings.
Carver and Laricchiuta said they were continuing to press the lawsuit while negotiating with the county and NIFA.
"We are going to proceed with the lawsuit like a deal won't get done, and if we do get a deal done, we can always withdraw the lawsuit," Carver said.