As posted last week, on November 3 the New York State Public Employees Federation (“PEF”) ratified a revised contract with the state, preserving the jobs of 3,496 PEF members selected for layoffs. Despite containing only minor, revenue-neutral modifications from the tentative agreement the parties reached in July that was rejected, this four-year agreement was approved by PEF membership in convincing fashion by a vote of 27,718 to 11,645. Because of the similarities between the agreements, it appears PEF’s increased outreach efforts, combined with the fact that prior to voting on the ratified agreement members knew exactly who among their co-workers were targeted for layoffs, had a dramatic effect on the membership. Further, several PEF members created a website, www.peffamilies.com, in an effort to further unify the union’s 55,000 employees and urge ratification to prevent layoffs.
With the ratification of this deal, and the agreement previously reached with the 66,000 state workers represented by the Civil Service Employees Association (“CSEA”), the Cuomo administration has successfully brokered cost-saving collective bargaining agreements with approximately two-thirds of the state’s unionized workforce. The state expects the two agreements to generate approximately $240 million in savings this year, with $73 million attributable to the CSEA deal and $165 million as a result of the PEF agreement. Although the approximately $240 million in savings is significant, it still leaves the state nearly $200 million short of the $450 million in workforce-related savings contained in this year’s budget. As negotiations continue with the several unions representing the remaining third of the workforce, the state claims to be on track to achieve its savings goal; however, based on the savings generated by the PEF and CSEA deals, it remains to be seen if, and more importantly how, the state will be able to reach the $450 million total.
If the CSEA and PEF deals are being used as a framework for agreements with the significantly smaller units at the table, it seems entirely possible that even if agreements are reached with each group, the total amount of savings will fall short of the budget’s amount. With that result as a distinct possibility, it will be interesting to see if the state will look to take a more aggressive stance at negotiations moving forward. With that said, it will be interesting to see if some unions may look to settle expeditiously to avoid the possibility of being offered terms less favorable than those agreed to by CSEA and PEF.