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Opinion

Bringing the labor unions together

Nassau PBA President James McDermott on Jan. 24,

Nassau PBA President James McDermott on Jan. 24, 2019 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Daily Point

Waiting for the PBA

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.
- Lane Filler @lanefiller

Talking Point

Butterfly effect

New York’s presidential primary is likely to be held in late April of 2020. That’s the proposal by state Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs, and the party controls the State Legislature. While the presidential field is all the talk right now, how will the primary affect New York’s other political contests?

The new June date for state primaries means that the signature gathering period for primary designating petitions would likely begin toward the end of February, according to a Board of Elections spokesman. Filing deadlines would be at the beginning of April.

That would mean a lot of the local political talent will keep busy next spring.

It’s possible that there could be multiple serious presidential contenders still kicking by then, given the wide Democratic field now and the fact that early voting states like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, California and Nevada cater to the strengths of different candidates this cycle.

If so, state candidates might use their presidential endorsements to make a statement.  Fast forward to State Senate hopefuls highlighting their decision to go with Sen. Kamala Harris or Mayor Pete Buttigieg and defending their takes on “Medicare for all” or other hot-button presidential topics.

A high-intensity presidential primary could be a road map for those state candidates who have their fingers to the wind. Turnout patterns won’t be the same, but the April vote might indicate where the energy is among New York voters. Just enough time to tweak those campaign websites in the dash to June.
- Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

Changing the political climate

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Reference Point

Times change, driving doesn't

Newsday’s editorial board does not always confine itself to matters of policy. The board sometimes addresses significant cultural moments or trends, or memorializes someone of national or regional prominence who has died.

But on this day in 1941, the board used its editorial space to dispense some practical advice — on driving.

The board chastised drivers who “have a way of getting thoughtless when they’re in a hurry,” as well as those who are “four times as aggressive when they’re behind a wheel,” or those who simply “forget all courtesy.”

The bottom line, the board noted, was that, “By and large, the responsibility for keeping out of an accident rests upon you.”

So it offered some tips. Like not looking into the headlights of an approaching car. And jiggling the front wheels slightly to avoid wiping out if you’ve taken a turn too quickly. And using proper hand signals for making turns (Buick made turn signals a standard feature in 1939, but they weren’t common until the 1950s).

The board wrote about good driving posture (yup, a straight back), watching out for gravel and oil patches on the road, using your rear-view mirror, and anticipating the actions of the other driver — the board referred to that driver as a “fellow” and used only masculine pronouns. Watch his front wheels, the board advised, to see whether he is going to turn.

“All in all,” the board concluded, “driving a car is a pretty complicated and highly skilled job. Look at the number of deaths and injuries caused by ignorant motorists, if you think it isn’t.”

Some editorials, indeed, are timeless.

- Michael Dobie @mwdobie

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