Westchester County and the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) have been in contract negotiations since the expiration of the most recent contract in 2011, and County Executive Rob Astorino is trying to prod the union into accepting a recommendation by a third-party fact finding committee.
In a release issued today, April 21, Astorino states that he believes the recommendation, which includes employee contributions to health care costs, is fair.
Astorino's press release is below, followed by the statement from the CSEA:
Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino announced today that the county would accept the recommendations that an independent state fact finder has laid out to settle the county’s outstanding labor contract with the CSEA, the county’s largest union.
“As is the case in all collective bargaining, neither side got exactly what it wanted,” said Astorino. “But, the proposals set forth in the fact finder’s report are fair, and since the fact finder was brought in at the request of the union, I would urge the CSEA’s leadership to act responsibly, accept the recommendations and give its membership a contract.”
In his report, Howard Edelman, the state fact finder, called on members of the Civil Service Employees Association to pay for a portion of their health care benefits. The CSEA is the only one of the county’s eight unions that doesn’t contribute to health care. Management and non-union county employees contribute to health care as well.
“The fact finder simply recognized that in today’s economy all employees must pay a share of their health care,” Astorino said. “This is true in the private sector and the public sector. It is time for the CSEA to recognize this reality.”
The fact finder also called for a general wage freeze for 2012 and 2013; a 2 percent increase in 2014 and 2015; and bonus and longevity increases of $100 per employee in 2012, $150 per employee in 2013, and $100 in 2015.
For current employees, health care contributions would be based on premiums but tiered according to an employee’s salary with payments ranging from 7.5 percent to 10 percent of premiums over the course of the contract. New employees would pay 20 percent of premiums.
Under the law, if either side rejects the fact finder's report, it is not binding.In accordance with New York State’s Taylor Law, the fact finder met with the parties, heard arguments and received evidence. The report makes findings and recommendations on all issues submitted in the fact finding hearing, most importantly on wages and health insurance contributions.
The following is the release from the CSEA:
The CSEA Westchester County Unit 9200 Negotiating Committee is rejecting a fact finder’s recommendations on new contract terms because the fact finder’s report does not meet the concerns, needs and worries of 3,000 members who are Westchester County employees, taxpayers and voters. A fact finder’s report is one of the methods to resolve contract issues provided by the Taylor Law which governs public sector collective bargaining in New York State. A fact finder’s report is not binding on either Labor or Management.
The unit Negotiating Committee has long sought to meet the demands of the County including the limitations on wage rates and proposing contributions to the County’s health plan. However, as a full package, CSEA Unit 9200 cannot recommend a fact finder’s report that it believes is ultimately detrimental to the membership.
CSEA has requested that County Executive Rob Astorino notify the Westchester County Board of Legislators to schedule a public hearing to discuss and vote on an imposition of the contract for the 2012 calendar year. Notwithstanding that, CSEA is prepared to continue any discussion with Westchester County that will lead to a fair agreement.
The contract between CSEA and Westchester County expired Dec. 31 2011.