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Cuomo has been telling state workers' unions for months that there would be layoffs. Nearly ten thousand workers would lose their jobs, he said, if the unions didn't agree to concessions totaling half of a billion dollars.
One of the two largest unions, the CSEA, settled after workers agreed to furloughs, a two-year wage freeze and higher payments for their health care. The other major union, the Public Employees Federation, has snot agreed to a contract and Cuomo said 4,700 members of the union could lose their jobs if they don't agree to similar concessions.
The first layoff notices were to be sent Thursday and workers could be terminated by the end of July.
Darcy Wells, a spokesperson for PEF, says the Cuomo administration is putting the squeeze on the union. "That's unfortunate. We are back at the bargaining table with the goal of reaching an agreement with the state and helping the state to achieve things they need to achieve and to avoid layoffs. That's the whole goal right now," Wells said. "Unfortunately the governor feels the need to be out there also threatening the jobs of our members. And we see that as being unproductive."
"Governor Cuomo, what do you say? How many workers did you cut today?" PEF members chanted. They voiced their displeasure at a rally held at the capitol in late June.
At that event, PEF President Ken Bryon said the union had offered some concessions: "We have offered to give up some furlough days. We offered to delay payments for other days until people retire. We offered to make some health care concessions."
The union leaders have sent around a questionnaire to its members, asking what they think of the CSEA union deal and whether it is something they can accept, said spokesperson Wells. "We are seeking input from our members, we want to hear how they feel about the current state of negotiations. We are getting a very heavy response. We will obviously be taking that into consideration. The governor said that he has viewed the CSEA contract as a model for other agreements and we want to see if our members agree with that."
Meanwhile, the first round of layoff notices were sent out for 451 state positions.
In an action that could further erode the contract talks, Cuomo announced the closure of seven state prisons. Many of the workers at those prisons who are not guards are PEF members. Cuomo said he has to close the prisons, due to declining crime and inmate populations.