Gov. Andrew Cuomo appeared on “The Capitol Pressrooom” and accused members of the state’s second largest public employees union who rejected a contract with the state this week of protecting older workers at the expense of younger ones.
“See the trick here is people know who are the junior members and they know who is going to get laid off and they know they are probably not going to get laid off if they have seniority because of the Triborough rules, they will continue to get certain increases, the contract continues,” Cuomo told host Susan Arbetter. “People may say, ‘I’m not going to get laid off. Why should I pay any more? Lay off the other guy.’ That’s unfortunate. It’s not in the spirit of community, but you could see that that’s a pragmatic judgment.”
The Triborough Amendment that Cuomo refers to says that public unions are allowed to continue to operate under their old contract until a new one is ratified.
Members of the Public Employee Federation rejected a contract that its leadership had negotiated with the state. The contract was largely along the same lines that another, larger public employee union, the Civil Service Employee Association, had negotiated earlier this year. Cuomo had said that if PEF rejected the contracted, up to 3,500 members could be laid-off, and pink slips went out almost immediately.
“The members of the union didn’t think I was serious,” Cuomo said. They thought the administration was bluffing, that there wouldn’t be layoffs. And if that’s what they thought, they were mistaken. I have said that repeatedly. I have said that since January. I think every action this administration has taken has shown that look, we are serious. When we say something we do what we said we were going to do.”
Yesterday, PEF president Ken Brynien said that his phone calls to the Cuomo administration haven’t been returned. But Cuomo said that he is open to negotiations, but that the union will not get a sweeter deal from him.
“Of course I’m open to tweaks .We are talking about 3,500 people. Now it depends on how you define tweak. If a tweak means I have to find more money from the taxpayers, that’s not a tweak. If the tweak is I have to provide I guarantee of job security that’s not a tweak,” Cuomo said.
Arbetter told Cuomo that union members she had spoken with expressed concern that they may lose their jobs even if they accept the contract after a Cuomo appointed commission to find inefficiencies in government releases its report.
Cuomo said that nobody could promise job security.
Said the governor, “I can’t say. I can’t. I don’t know what’s going to happen ad infinitum. I don’t have five year job security. Nobody gets ‘You will have a job no matter what happens for five years.’”