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Nassau police union sues to end wage freeze

Nassau PBA president James Carver speaking in Mineola.

Nassau PBA president James Carver speaking in Mineola. (May 21, 2013) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau's police union says it will ask a judge to overturn a nearly three-year wage freeze, though a federal court recently rejected a similar challenge.

County employees haven't had raises since 2011 -- part of a cost-cutting plan imposed by the state control board that oversees Nassau finances.

Police Benevolent Association president James Carver said Saturday that the union plans to challenge the freeze in Nassau Supreme Court on Monday or Tuesday.

Carver contends that the Nassau Interim Finance Authority's power to deny wage increases has expired. The challenge will be filed under the Article 78 statute that allows state courts to decide whether an administrative body has acted lawfully.

"It's an avenue for us to petition the court to request that they end the wage freeze," Carver said.

Last month, the PBA and County Executive Edward Mangano gave preliminary approval to a contract that would unfreeze wages and create salary structures for new hires. The deal would save Nassau $320 million through 2017, according to Mangano, but the county would also owe about $50 million in back pay to officers.

Newly installed NIFA chairman John Kaiman and two board members met Saturday with Carver and Mangano, a move that drew a rebuke from two other board members, Christopher Wright and George Marlin.

Wright, in a statement, called the meeting a negotiating session and said "to do so this close to an election, with candidates on the ballot in the room with parties whose endorsement they are seeking, is a lapse of judgment which risks our credibility."

"NIFA should not and cannot have its role as an independent state body compromised by the political desires of any elected official, whether it be state or county," Marlin said in a statement.

Carver said the PBA has yet to endorse a candidate for county executive, but may do so this week.

Kaiman said the meeting wasn't a negotiating session. Carver and Mangano briefed him and the board members on potential savings from the new contract, he said.

Mangano agreed. "It was a productive meeting among parties that resulted in a dialogue to achieve savings for taxpayers," he said.

Last month, a federal appeals panel overturned a lower court decision that found the freeze illegal. The county's police unions had filed the suit.

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