Nassau County’s five public-service unions have worked with expired contracts for about 16 months, since January 2018. That just so happens to be when County Executive Laura Curran took the job from Edward Mangano.
For most of that time, there were no substantive meetings among labor leaders and the county’s representatives. But in the past two months that’s begun to change, with Nassau County Director of Labor Relations Christopher Nicolino and hired gun labor attorney Gary Dellaverson sitting down with representatives of almost every county shop.
Labor leaders and county officials say there have been meetings with representatives of the CSEA, the county’s largest union, as well as ones from the unions for superior officers, detectives and corrections.
The only county union that has yet to meet to talk contract is the Police Benevolent Association, which has traditionally been the most powerful unit and the acknowledged leader at the negotiating table largely because its members, rank-and-file police officers, have considerable bargaining experience and public support.
The PBA and Curran worked on building a relationship early in her administration. But the relationship soured after she appealed a December court decision that found a deal restoring longevity pay to union members is “valid and enforceable.”
In January, a billboard truck hired by the PBA toured Nassau County, blasting the song “Rich Girl” while depicting Curran next to a large red arrow labeled “Assessment Taxes!” pointing up.
And with the Nassau Interim Finance Authority keeping the county in a control period, there is a sense that no new contract could possibly satisfy both the spending restrictions of that state oversight board and the financial aspirations of PBA members.
So the PBA may not be at the table anytime soon.
These days what may be notable about starting negotiations 16 months after the expiration of a contract is that it’s unusually fast.
State law guarantees workers the pay and perks contained in the expired contracts until new deals are reached. Depending on who got the better deal the last time around, waits as long as six or seven years to finalize new contracts have been the norm in many big negotiations. This happened most recently with the workers from the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority and the Port Authority.
But Curran has said she wants to get these contracts done, and thus far the talks are said to be productive and fairly congenial.
The ones that have started, that is.