NIFA considering union contracts that would lift 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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Nassau's financial control board, after meeting for 8 hours in executive session, had yet to vote on new union contracts as of 1:15 a.m. Saturday.

The seven-member Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a state board in control of the county's finances, is considering new union contracts that would lift a three-year pay freeze that has held wages below $30,000 annually for some employees.

At 1:15 a.m., all four unions, the Civil Service Employees Association, the Police Benevolent Association, the Detectives Association and the Superior Officers Association, had approved language modifications on their contracts.

County Executive Edward Mangano, who negotiated the agreements, arrived at the NIFA meeting in Uniondale about 9:15 p.m. last night and shuttled between rooms in which NIFA and union officials were meeting.

The amended contracts call for employees to get their first pay increase in three years retroactive to April 1, followed by a series of pay hikes totaling more than 13 percent by the end of 2017. Some employees would get additional step raises.

Under the deals, employees give up an annual pay raise that had been due in 2013. The unions, which are still challenging the legality of the freeze imposed by NIFA in March 2011, also would give up any steps due in 2011 as well as their 2012 salary increase unless a court ultimately rules the freeze was illegal. A State Supreme Court judge already has ruled that the wage freeze is legal and the unions have appealed.

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The correction officers union has yet to complete a new contract deal, whose parameters are expected to closely mirror what the other unions received.

Correction Officers Benevolent Association president John Jaronczyk said Friday that his union "is working together with the administration in trying to complete an agreement," adding that he hoped a tentative pact would be announced "in the near future."

Mangano and the unions say the deals will save hundreds of millions of dollars over the long run because of concessions that include requiring new employees to pay a percentage of their health insurance premium and pension costs.

NIFA chairman Jon Kaiman said the control board calculates the deals would cost $129 million over the four years. The county legislature's budget review office has reported costs could vary from $120 million to $292 million.

The NIFA board was also considering approval of a resolution ordering Mangano to provide a new, four-year financial plan within 60 days that details how he will pay for the deals if they do not generate expected savings.

The resolution also would direct Mangano to include $30 million a year in contingency for paying the contract costs and warned that NIFA would make its own changes to the county budget if necessary.

NIFA in March adopted guidelines for Mangano and the unions to lift the freeze. The conditions included designating speed camera revenue and any excess money from sales tax collections and mortgage recording fees to pay for the agreements. Since then, county officials have reported dips in both sales tax revenue and mortgage recording fees, blaming the falloff on the bitter winter.

Mangano is hoping to hire a new police class Monday, the day a civil service list of eligible candidates expires.

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With Randi F. Marshall

and Zachary R. Dowdy

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