Albany, N.Y.-- Members of the state’s largest public employees union approved a new five-year contract that freezes wages for three years, increases health-care contributions and requires unpaid furloughs, the union announced late Monday.
Under the contract, the Civil Service Employees Association avoids layoffs, but agreed to some of the largest givebacks by a public-employee union in state history. This proves that public employees have always been part of the solution to our state's collective fiscal problems-- even though workers are not responsible for the gross mismanagement of public funds.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who had vowed to lay off up to 9,800 state workers this year if their unions didn’t agree to $450 million in concessions, called the contract “a win for the union and a win for the people of the state.”
“The union avoided layoffs and the state is financially stronger,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I’m pleased that our approach of labor and management working together is vindicated. Mutual respect and honest negotiations work.”
CSEA spent all of Monday tallying close to 30,000 ballots that were returned on the contract. CSEA represents about 66,000 mostly blue-collar public workers across New York. The union reached a tentative deal with Cuomo’s office in June, and voting by mail wrapped up last week.
About 60 percent of the ballots returned were in favor of the deal, according to CSEA spokesman Stephen Madarasz. More information on the vote would be made available at a news conference on Tuesday, he said.
The vote was seen as a bellwether to determine whether other unions would agree to similar terms. Contracts expired for more than a dozen unions on April 1.
The second largest union, the Public Employees Federation, plans to vote next month on the same deal as CSEA’s.
The state’s difficult fiscal position made the more austere contract a necessity, CSEA President Danny Donohue said.
“These are not ordinary times and CSEA worked hard to reach an agreement that we believed would be in everyone’s best interest,” Donohue said in a statement. “CSEA members agree that this contract is reasonable and responsible for the long term and shows that CSEA members will do what is right for the good of all New Yorkers."