As if Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano did not already have enough labor-relations struggles on his hands, along comes a strike threat by the Adjunct Faculty Association at Nassau Community College. That poses another tough test for Mangano for the tight budget year ahead.

The county executive acknowledges that Nassau's larger unions have already been helpful. But to deal with what he calls a $343-million deficit, he has also asked the county legislature to clear the way for imposing $60 million in further labor concessions in 2011 - regardless of existing contracts. Whether that can survive a lawsuit is unclear, but Mangano insists that he has no choice but to try.

That's the tight-money context in which the leadership of the adjuncts is talking about a strike. The contract expires Thursday night, and the college argues that the union's demands amount to more than a 76 percent increase, at a cost of $21 million - at time when the college has lost $7.9 million in state aid since last December and the county's contribution to the college is being frozen for the second year in a row.

Mangano is represented at the bargaining table, and it will be his job to submit a new contract to the legislature for its approval. So he has a real stake in this. Clearly, the large unions facing cuts will watch closely to see whether the adjuncts, whose leadership not so subtly boasts of its support for Mangano, get a big increase. This is an exam that Mangano has to pass. hN