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Levy, Suffolk PBA reach tentative pact on concessions

County Executive Steve Levy and the Suffolk PBA reached a tentative pact giving $12 million in union concessions - nearly double what Levy sought - in return for extended arbitration until 2013 and a promise that the county won't shift police work to any other agencies to 2015.

"This is a case where both sides won," said Levy, following 10 days of intense talks. "I needed tax relief and got it. They wanted job protection and they got it."

Jeff Frayler, president of the Suffolk PBA, said, "We have the framework of an agreement," but said it was "premature" for Levy to give details, since lawyers are ironing out final language. "Levy needed money and his need was met. Our need for job security and more police is also met in the deal," he said.

Several county sources said there is also an informal understanding that the county will hire a new class of police recruits next year to at least replace some of the officers who have retired this year and last. Levy said a new police class is not part of the deal, and no class will be included in his proposed 2010 budget released on Sept. 18. But Levy, unlike the past, declined to say if he would veto money for new police. Frayler declined to comment.

The PBA is the last county union to strike a deal with Levy, who last April sought $30 million in labor concessions, including $6.8 million from the PBA, to help close a $119-million shortfall. Levy had threatened layoffs if unions did not agree, but lawmakers have balked at axing police because of the dwindling numbers, even though Levy says the number of police on the street has increased.

County Legis. William Lindsay (D-Holbrook), the legislature's presiding officer, said the deal may not formally include police hiring, but "the feeling is very strong" among lawmakers to replenish the ranks since the county failed to get stimulus money. "Having fewer cops on the street and no cops on the horizon is a very scary thing," he said.

Levy cautioned that if the police union cannot ratify the pact by Tuesday when his 2010 budget goes to the printer, he will cut 60 to 70 filled non-patrol jobs in his plan. He said there will be no layoffs if the union approves the deal.

The deal would expand the pending arbitration award on a new PBA contract, expected this fall, from two years to three years. It also provides for a three-year arbitration for a contract to run from 2011 to 2013. Levy said the $12 million in concessions would come not from a lag payroll, but deferral of overtime or future pay hikes. Levy also agreed to restore the motorcycle unit disbanded last summer, keep the police warrant work from going to the sheriff and end "holistic" training which has transferred 35 officers to unfamiliar precincts.

The pact calls for both sides to abide by the judge's ruling in the ongoing Public Employee Relations Board case on whether the shift of highway patrol work to sheriff deputies is proper.


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