Nassau County’s largest union this week approved a disputed memorandum of agreement that would restore millions of dollars in employee longevity pay — annual payments that are based on years of service — on July 1, although county officials and a fiscal watchdog contend there is no deal.
Jerry Larrichiuta, president of the Civil Service Employees Association, said his members ratified the agreement negotiated by outgoing Chief Deputy County Executive Rob Walker by a 1,356 to 20 vote. He said the union will go to binding arbitration if his members do not see longevity payments increase in July.
“We met our obligation,” Laricchiuta said. “The onus is now on the county to restore longevity payments for all members.”
But Adam Barsky, chairman of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, which is in control of the county’s finances, said Friday, “The MOA, as we understand it, is unenforceable.”
County Attorney Carnell Foskey, who leaves office Dec. 31 as part of the outgoing Republican administration of Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, said in September that the agreement was “not in proper form” and was not binding — although Laricchiuta says Foskey wrote it.
NIFA contends that longevity increases were eliminated when county unions, led by the Police Benevolent Association, agreed to new labor contracts in 2014, which run through the end of this month, as part of a deal to end a three-year wage freeze. Union leaders argue longevity increases resume Jan. 1 after those contracts end. A “clarification” letter about longevity, which was signed by Mangano and the then-PBA president, can be read either way.
A spokesman for Democratic County Executive-elect Laura Curran, who takes office Jan. 1, did not return a call for comment.
Longevity payments have been unchanged since 2011 when NIFA froze wages. Laricchiuta said his members will save Nassau county $5 million next year by agreeing to push back the start of the longevity increases from Jan. 1 to July 1.
“I have a memorandum signed by Rob Walker, that by charter he has the authority to sign,” Laricchiuta said. “We feel it’s a valid agreement. We expect them to pay us.”