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Nassau, correction union officials agree on new contract

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, shown on Friday,

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, shown on Friday, May 2, 2014 in Uniondale. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Leaders of the 900-member Nassau correction officers union have agreed to a new labor contract with the county that will provide a series of pay hikes totaling more than 13 percent by the end of 2017.

The deal, signed Wednesday by Correction Officers Benevolent Association president John Jaronczyk and Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, closely resembles contracts approved last month by Nassau and four other labor unions -- and ends a wage freeze on correction officers in effect since March 2011.

The agreement still must be approved by union members, the county legislature and Nassau's financial control board. Officials did not immediately disclose the cost of the pact.

"While our members will never get back to where they should have been before the freeze, this agreement puts them on the way to being compensated for their years of service," Jaronczyk said.

Mangano called the contract "good news for taxpayers. It settles outstanding litigation and saves money as compared to the prior contract."

Jaronczyk said that 85 union members working at the County Correctional Center in East Meadow have been frozen at entry-level salaries of $30,000 for more than three years, and a total of 150 members have been frozen at salaries of $45,000 or less.

Union members will vote on the contract June 27. It will then need approval by the GOP-controlled legislature and the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a state monitoring board that controls the county's finances.

NIFA chairman Jon Kaiman called the contract "consistent" with the four other union agreements. "There is no indication that it will get held up or stalled," he said.

Kaiman said savings in the union deal would lower the overall cost of the five union contracts from a minimum of $130 million to $120 million.

Legislative Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) had not yet reviewed the contract, a spokesman said. Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said while he hadn't examined the deal, his 7-member caucus likely will vote for it "if it saves taxpayer dollars."

The new contract provides an immediate 3.5 percent pay hike for union members. They would get a 3.75 percent raise on Sept. 1, 2015; a 3.5 percent hike on Sept. 1, 2016, and a 2 percent increase on July 1, 2017. Some members also would get step increases through the life of the contract.

Like labor contracts signed by the Police Benevolent Association, Detectives Association, Superior Officers Association and the Civil Service Employees Association, correction officers would give up an annual pay raise that had been due in 2013 as well as one year of step increases.

The contract is retroactive to June 1 and expires Dec. 31, 2017.

All five unions still are challenging the legality of the freeze imposed by NIFA in March 2011. A State Supreme Court justice has ruled that the wage freeze is legal and the unions have appealed.

Under the proposed contract, new hires who choose a premium health insurance plan would be required for the first time to contribute 15 percent to the cost.

New employees who select a less expensive plan would not have to contribute.

Union members also could no longer accrue comp days for donating blood; would not receive tuition reimbursement in 2015-17 and have to wait until they leave the job to receive $925 in uniform maintenance and education pay that was deferred from 2011.The labor contract also changes a rule that allowed correction officers who are injured on the job to be paid for up to four hours a day, for a period of three days a week, for time spent in medical treatment. The new contract would require payment for two hours a day, three days a week.

The county paid union members for 9,836 hours under the old rule in 2013, Mangano said.

Nassau County Sheriff Michael Sposato saidthe overall deal is "good for the department because it will increase morale. Everyone is happy."

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