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NIFA orders Foskey to appear on union contracts issue

Nassau County Attorney Carnell Foskey in Mineola on

Nassau County Attorney Carnell Foskey in Mineola on Jan. 29, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

Nassau’s financial control board has set up a potential showdown with County Attorney Carnell Foskey by ordering him to “personally appear” at its next meeting to explain why he has yet to provide comprehensive outlines of the county’s five major union contracts.

But Foskey has yet to agree to attend, contending that he delivered the requested documents to the Nassau Interim Finance Authority last week, a county spokesman said.

“He will make that decision [to appear] after NIFA has digested everything that was sent over to them,” said Deputy County Executive Ed Ward.

NIFA general counsel Jeremy Wise said Wednesday that the NIFA board is not satisfied with the information Foskey provided. “They have consequently ordered Mr. Foskey to appear before them on July 25, 2017, to explain why there appear to be deficiencies in his response(s). If he chooses not to appear, NIFA intends to pursue its legal remedies to have him sanctioned and ultimately appear personally before them.”

State law stipulates that any county officer who refuses to follow a valid NIFA order can be charged with a misdemeanor and be subject to administrative discipline, including suspension from duty without pay or removal from office.

NIFA in November ordered the county to provide “a single comprehensive contract document” for each of the unions by Jan. 31. Although state law requires NIFA to approve all union contracts, the board complained that it had never seen a “single discreet contract” when it approved new deals for the five major county unions in 2014. Instead, NIFA was given stacks of stipulations, side letters, settlement agreements, memoranda of understandings, amendments, arbitration awards and other documents dating to the early 1990s. The 2014 deals expire at the end of this year.

At the county’s request, NIFA extended the deadline several times. Finally, on Monday, NIFA ordered Foskey by email to appear “prepared to discuss, in depth your progress in complying with the order.” That discussion will be held in private under a provision in the open meetings law that exempts contract negotiations, NIFA said.

Foskey told NIFA on July 5 that the county “has done its due diligence in producing what it believes is a fair and accurate representation of the existing labor agreements.” But he said the unions will not sign off “without acknowledgment that they will not be bound if there was an error.”

He noted that some of the side letters and awards are more than 30 years old and consolidating the contracts into single agreements “has never been done before now.”

Foskey wrote, “In conclusion the county has met the NIFA board’s request and produced the consolidated agreements. However, we cannot force the Unions to accept and sign off on these drafts.”

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