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He came in with a carrot and stick approach, but not an attack approach.

Cuomo gets major concessions in CSEA contract

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Governor Andrew Cuomo scored another win when he convinced the largest state worker union, the Civil Service Employees Association, to make concessions in its new contract. In Albany, Karen DeWitt reports.

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Karen DeWitt
NYS Capitol Correspondent

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The contract, ratified shortly before midnight, includes a wage freeze nine furlough days spread out over two fiscal years, and larger employee health care contributions. 

Cuomo, who called the deal a “big, big win for the union and the people of the state”,  had threatened all along that the alternative to the concessions would be nearly 10,000 lay offs.

Despite the threats, Cuomo has not attracted general criticism or controversy like some other governors, notably Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, who was vilified by many Democrats and those on the left after he was widely viewed as going after public worker unions.

Cuomo, whose approval rating is around 70%, continues to be popular in New York among all types of voters, says Siena College poll spokesman Steve Greenberg, who says there is “virtually no difference” in the governor’s high approval rating between union and on union households. .

“Union voters do not view Andrew Cuomo any differently than non union voters,’ said Greenberg.

Greenberg says Cuomo staked out the middle ground in his approach to the unions. 

“He never attacked collective bargaining, he never attacked the unions,” said Greenberg, who says Cuomo instead stood by his promise of significant lay offs as the only alternative to give backs. “He came in with a carrot and stick approach, but not an attack approach.”

Cuomo is a Democrat, and Democrats have traditionally relied on the assistance of union members through campaign donations, phone banking and door to door literature drops to win campaigns. 

The CSEA contract is not the governor’s first attempt to reach agreement with public unions. Cuomo announced a deal with the much smaller Council 82 which represents forest rangers and other law enforcement personnel, but that contract was rejected by the membership and Council 82 leadership disintegrated.  

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