October 18, 2011
By Marc Bussanich
Hundreds of union members from CSEA Local 830, the Nassau County PBA and Nassau County Police Department Detectives Association stood on the lawn in front of the Nassau County Executive building listening to different union members speak their anger about how Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano wants to destroy not just unions, but the American working class.
Some harsh words were directed to the County Executive, some calling him a phony SOB. Mangano’s office responded to the union presence on the lawn with an equally direct message: “Get Your Butts to the Negotiations Table.”
The unions protested because they are infuriated over the County Executive’s proposed Fiscal Crisis Reform Act, which would allow the county to make changes to current negotiated contracts to achieve economic reforms in order to plug a $310M budget hole.
According to some union leaders, such as CSEA’s President Jerry Larricchuta, that act, if passed by the County’s Legislative Body, would violate the U.S. Constitution and the Taylor Law.
But Brian Nevin, Senior Policy Advisor to the County said the act doesn’t infringe upon the national constitution. He noted that if the unions are not willing to make concessions in one area, say health care, then the Act empowers the County to “enact the necessary economic reforms to achieve a balanced budget.”
According to Nevin, the contracts the County has signed with the unions “are already open” for revisions because the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority (NIFA), which seized control of Nassau County’s finances earlier this year because the county could not balance a $2.7 billion budget, is already authorized to cherry-pick items from the contracts necessary to balance the county’s finances.
But Ryan Mulholland, Public Relations Director for CSEA Local 830, emphatically denies that. “Why propose and seek to pass the Fiscal Reform Act if NIFA already has those powers?” Mulholland also noted that lawyers for CSEA have informed the union that if implemented, the Fiscal Crisis Reform Act would indeed be a violation against the Constitution and Taylor Law.
According to Nevin, the county is not looking to cut positions outright, although he mentioned the county is seeking to save $98 million through layoff attrition, which would reduce personnel to 7,400. To reach that reduction will require the elimination of 1,110 staff, but Nevin said that 300 staff will be attrited, thereby resulting in a total reduction of 710 personnel.
Glen Ciccone, President of the Detectives Association, said the County wants to eliminate two precincts. Nevin said that there will be no detective job losses, but acknowledged that 81 administrative positions will be lost if the precincts close.
Nevin said that the county wants flexibility to be able to assign detectives, regardless of precinct, to cover absent detectives anywhere in the county on straight time rather the current practice of paying a detective overtime covering an absent detective from the same precinct.
Nevin said that negotiations with CSEA and the PBA will resume today, and noted all options on the table. A couple of items the county is ready to negotiate is the annual yearly stipend of almost $700 for educational advancement, whether PBA members pursue educational endeavors or not.
Another is health care. Nevin said that for the first time the county is asking its public employees to contribute towards paying for health care benefits. Nevin explained that for a union member whose family is also covered by the premium, the member will be required to contribute up to 25 percent of the premium’s cost.
John Durso, President of RWDSU/UFCW Local 338, who introduced different labor leaders during the rally, said he was hearing rumors of a work stoppage in response to the anger produced by the possible ramifications of the Fiscal Crisis Reform Act.
But Larricchuta of CSEA was quick to say that a work stoppage would be a violation of the Taylor Law because his local CSEA 803 are public employees, and instead implored the crowd to “remember November,” a call to CSEA members to vote for their interests in the coming elections.