A billboard truck has been making the rounds in Nassau, blasting the song “Rich Girl” while depicting County Executive Laura Curran next to a large red arrow labeled “Assessment Taxes!” pointing up.
“Hey Nassau County, things are looking up. Thanks Laura Curran.” is the sarcastic headline.
The sponsor isn’t identified. But Nassau Police Benevolent Association President James McDermott confirmed Tuesday that it is the PBA’s truck.
“We’re going to fight her on every front,” McDermott said of Curran. “We feel she’s not handling assessment correctly. She’s not honoring contracts. She’s not keeping her word . . . Whatever it is, we’re going to challenge her.”
County union heads say Curran has told them she plans to appeal a December court decision that found a deal restoring longevity pay to union members is “valid and enforceable.”
The deal was negotiated by the prior Republican administration as a cost-saving measure. The unions contended longevity pay — an annual bonus based on number of years on the job — should have been restored Jan. 1 after contracts signed in 2014 expired. The deal pushes back the restart of the payments until July 1.
However, the county’s financial control board contends the 2014 contracts eliminated longevity pay altogether for new union members and froze the amounts earned by existing members.
Language in the 2014 contracts and a subsequent clarification letter did not specifically address longevity.
Curran sued in March, telling union leaders and others that she wanted a legal opinion on whether the deal was valid.
In an email to his members on Dec. 28 McDermott said, “just this week I met with the County Executive. Regrettably, and unjustifiably, she informed me that the County will appeal our resounding victory in the longevity case. While the County Executive’s decision is a further betrayal of you and all working men and women in Nassau County, I cannot say that it is entirely unexpected.”
Although Curran told him and a PBA vice president that she “merely wanted a judge to affirm” the longevity deal, “now the county executive has broken her word once again,” McDermott wrote in the email obtained by Newsday.
Curran spokeswoman Karen Contino said assessment, “has nothing to do with PBA bargaining. This tactic is a throwback to years ago with the PBA using sign trucks at contract time. The public is tired of these old games."
Contino said the "court decision means . . . longevity can be addressed during negotiations. The county will file a notice of appeal, which we have six months to complete. If the police force wants a faster resolution, then we invite the union leadership to serious negotiations.”
McDermott said in a statement to Newsday, “To be clear, the PBA cares a great deal about how County government is run. We are concerned about anything that negatively affects the County, whether it be mismanagement of any County Department, the mishandling of the Assessment process, or the County Executive failing to keep her word and honor her commitments. All of those things negatively affect our Members, and we will bring attention to them as needed.”
Jerry Laricchiuta, president of Nassau’s Civil Service Employees Association, also said Curran told him she would appeal despite a prior promise not to fight the decision.
“She has lost credibility,” he said of Curran. “Credibility is everything.”