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Cuomo, CSEA strike deal; layoffs averted

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the largest union representing workers in New York's executive branch reached a contract agreement that protects the union's members from administration plans for cost-saving layoffs, both sides announced yesterday.

The Civil Service Employees Association and Cuomo said the five-year agreement includes a three-year wage freeze for the 66,000 workers represented by CSEA, but provides employees with lump-sum "retention payments" of $775 in 2013 and $225 in 2014 and 2-percent pay increases in 2014 and 2015.

It also calls for workers to take nine unpaid days off split between the 2011 and 2012 fiscal years and to pay a larger share of their health care coverage. Salary for four of the furlough days would be repaid to workers at the end of the contract.

Cuomo had threatened to lay off 9,800 state workers if unions didn't make concessions that would help close a $450-million, two-year budget gap. Spokesmen for CSEA and the 56,000-member Public Employee Federation said there's been no breakdown by union of the planned layoffs, but CSEA expected 40 percent would have come from its ranks since that's the proportion of workers it represents.

While the agreement says the workers won't face those layoffs, they could lose their jobs to other downsizing or a change in the state's fiscal situation, according to the Cuomo administration.

The governor said the agreement's freeze on base wages and the redesign of the employee health care contribution and benefit system would save taxpayers $166 million over the next two fiscal years.

If adopted by the state's other collective bargaining units, including PEF, the deal will reduce workforce costs by $1.63 billion over the course of the agreement, Cuomo said. Overall, the contract would be $3.8 billion less expensive to the state than the four-year agreement reached in 2007, he said.

"CSEA believes our members and all fair-minded New Yorkers will see this agreement as a responsible labor-management approach to facing the challenges in front of our state," said Danny Donohue, CSEA president.

The CSEA deal is subject to approval by rank-and-file members.

Cuomo is still negotiating with PEF, the state's second-largest state workers union, after CSEA. PEF officials said yesterday they were still waiting to hear back from the state's negotiating team on the status of the union's contract offer.

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