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Glen Cove employees get union-type benefits

Mayor Ralph Suozzi said the city will work

Mayor Ralph Suozzi said the city will work cooperatively with all schools in Glen Cove, not just the public schools, to help them strengthen security and safety post-Newtown. Credit: James Escher

Glen Cove will again grant union-type benefits -- health care, vacation, sick and holiday time, and severance packages -- to the mayor and full-time appointed city employees.

City Council members last week voted 5-2 along party lines to approve benefits consistent with those of the Civil Service Employees Association contract for eight nonunion workers, including Mayor Ralph Suozzi.

Suozzi and five others do not pay for health benefits, a seventh employee as a new hire pays 10 percent toward her benefits and an eighth does not receive his benefits from the city.

Republican Councilman Anthony Gallo Jr. and Independence Party member Reginald Spinello voted against the Dec. 27 resolution, saying employees should pay for part of their benefits to save city funds.

"I was only asking for something small," Spinello said Wednesday. "Everybody's got to chip in."

The two councilmen are "missing the bigger picture," Suozzi said Thursday. "By voting against the provision, they're voting against us giving appointed employees the same privileges as other employees," he said. "They're voting against full-time workers getting sick days when they're sick and vacation days when the rest of the workforce is on vacation."

Per the CSEA contract, those hired after January 2010 pay 10 percent toward their benefits. The mayor, city clerk, building department director and others who began working for the city before that point do not pay for health benefits, just as more-senior union members don't.

Full-time appointed employees have received such benefits "for decades," Suozzi said.

The average annual cost of family health care is about $18,000, city officials said. Spinello said it's not unreasonable to ask full-time, nonunion employees to pay 15 percent of their benefits. "Quite simply, there has to be a starting point to reeling in the rising costs of medical services," he said. "You can't have business as usual. You've got to draw a line in the sand."

Gallo argued that appointed employees "who pay zero should contribute" to fight the city's debt. In light of financial difficulties, "we cannot keep operating the same way," he said. City Council members in the 2012 and 2013 budgets voted to forgo free benefits they received as part-time employees.

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