Gov. Cuomo, top union strike 5-year deal

ALBANY - More than 60,000 state workers in New York's largest public-employees union will get annual raises under a tentative five-year deal struck Tuesday with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office.

Cuomo and the Civil Service Employees Association announced the five-year deal with a sparse press release Tuesday afternoon, unveiling only the length of the deal while the union's leadership began briefing members on the agreement.

By the evening, Cuomo's office filled in a few of the blanks.

CSEA's state workers are due to get five years of 2 percent pay increases with additional raises for employees who spend five, 10 or 15 years at the top of their pay scale, according to the governor's budget office.

The annual pay increase will be retroactive to April 2016, when the union's last contract expired. The new deal would last through March 31, 2021.

In a statement, Cuomo called the deal "a major step forward for the state and the thousands of public servants who work tirelessly each and every day to make New York the strong leader that it is.”

“This agreement is fair for taxpayers and fair for our workforce, and will keep New York moving forward for years to come," Cuomo said.

Cuomo last struck a five-year deal with CSEA in 2011, extracting a three-year pay freeze and increased health-care contributions from union members in exchange for layoff protections.

The new tentative deal was made between Cuomo's office and CSEA's leadership. It would have to be ratified by the union's membership before it takes effect.

The deal's fiscal impact on the state wasn't immediately clear Tuesday.

In its financial plan released earlier this year, the state assumed a potential CSEA deal would be similar in structure to an October deal with the Public Employees Federation, the state's second-largest public-workers union.

State lawmakers, meanwhile, will be asked to approve a bill authorizing the deal before ending its legislative session, which is scheduled to finish Wednesday.

E.J. McMahon, founder of the Empire Center, an Albany-based think tank, said the CSEA contract is the largest component of the state's workforce spending, which is the third-largest item in the state's budget.

He criticized Cuomo for withholding details of the tentative deal.

"While it's sadly the norm more often than not, it's still indefensible for him to treat this like a secret," McMahon said.

In a statement, CSEA President Danny Donohue said the tentative agreement is "fair to public service workers and taxpayers alike."

"We held the line, in a very tough environment, in order to provide a comprehensive health insurance program that protects working families across the state, and pay increases that help working families keep up with the rising cost of living," Donohue said.

© Gannett Co., Inc. 2017. All Rights Reserved


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