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February 3, 2011

Affordable Bails of New York  with offices in Suffolk county located in Central  Islip provides you with this interesting article about 

the failure of the Nassau County executive to get contract concessions from the Nassau county police unlike the Suffolk Executive

and the Suffolk County executive.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano's calls for significant labor union concessions - NOW! - fell on deaf ears last week as the head of the county police union said publicly that he's done dealing with Mangano and will wait to see what happens with NIFA.

One reason? There is almost zip, zero, nada incentive for the county's five public unions to deal this year as the Nassau Interim Finance Authority weighs whether to take over the county's finances.

For one, they've got contracts that expire on Dec. 31, 2015.

For another, there's a no-layoff clause that doesn't expire for the county's largest union, the Civil ServiceEmployees Association, until the end of this year.

Besides, union leadership points out; they've already given, repeatedly, over the years, to help Nassau balance its budget. This year, for example, the county's 10,000 CSEA employees won't get eight months of their scheduled raises and longevity payments until 2014. The same holds true for the Sheriff Officers Association.

That deferred compensation came as part of a deal to save Nassau money in 2010, when the county - after coming up $100 million short in projected 2009 sales tax revenue - was desperate for budget relief.

But since 2007, there have been a host of other save now, pay later deals, some mandated by binding arbitration, others the result of memorandums of agreement and contract extensions, that have sprinkled deferred payments - like budgetary time bombs - to various unions through 2015.

Those deferred payments were signed off on by former County Executive Thomas Suozzi and both Democrats and Republicans in the Nassau County Legislature when Mangano and now-Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt were in the body's minority party.

Meanwhile, on Jan. 1 of this year, the county's police and detective's unions received deferred longevity and raises members earned back in 2008. And, at some point later this year, they'll receive a second round of deferred payments, from an agreement to help salvage the county's 2007 budget.

Come next year, things get even worse for the budget: The county will pay out deferred wage and longevity payments to police, detectives and, twice, to superior officers, to cover work those employees did in 2009.

"I think everyone has to try harder to get something done this year," said Nassau Comptroller George Maragos, who last week joined fellow Republican Mangano in urging unions to talk. "They have to try harder because next year we won't be able to pay the bills."

He said Mangano's goal of $61 million in savings should be the floor, pointing out that the county also is dealing with rising pension contributions and health care costs.

Maragos, like Mangano, is adamant that Nassau can handle its budget. And its unions. And in a separate interview, Mangano said he believed he could do more with the county unions than NIFA could.

"Even if they stepped in and decided to freeze wages, they'd only be saving $10 million a year," Mangano said. "I know we can do better than that." He said the unions still are negotiating with him, but he warned that if there are no concessions, he will get legislative approval and order them, a move that experts doubt would pass legal muster.

What's sad is that none of this state of affairs is a surprise.

Under the NIFA legislation, Nassau, unlike Suffolk, is required to file not only a budget but a four-year plan. In addition, the county legislature's independent budget review office, repeatedly, over the years, has warned about Nassau's habit of saving now, paying later.

"Decisions made in these agreements will increase out-year expenses without any guarantees that the economy will have grown sufficiently to make the proposal affordable," according to an independent budget review report in October 2009.

"It is imperative that the administration restructure and cut costs on a permanent basis to be ready for the years when the agreements not only increase salaries, but require the county to pay deferred raises."

During his tenure, Suozzi, who declined to comment, waged repeated public battles with the county's unions, especially police, and he did win some concessions. Still, there was no big structural change.

"He did the best he could do, but he was left standing out there alone by some of the officials who are criticizing him now," said Jay Jacobs, the state and county Democratic Party leader.

And where was NIFA?

By 2009, the authority's powers had receded to the point where it offered opinions after, rather than before, the county took action on many of the deferred payments. But that should not have mattered.

Ten years ago, NIFA's first chairman, Frank Zarb, issued crisp, clear labor contract negotiating guidelines - copies of which went to then-County Executive Thomas Gulotta, legislative leaders, the county comptroller and every union president - geared toward changing the county's decades-long habit of being aggressively unaggressive at the management end of the negotiating table.Things didn't change much then. It remains to be seen whether - with or without NIFA intervention - they change now.


Last modified on Tuesday, 15 March 2011 17:33
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