Pay Bump for State Union Workers

Pay Bump for State Union Workers
By Marc Gronich

Members of the state’s second-largest public employees union, the Public Employees Federation (PEF), are now in line to receive their long-promised two percent pay raise retroactive to April 2015. For the 54,500 members of the mostly white-collar, high-paying state jobs, the retroactive pay will be approximately a $5,000 windfall when the checks arrive on August 24.

This four-month odyssey for the pay bill began on April 8. When the membership approved the contract on June 7, 58.5 percent of the membership voted (96.7 percent voted for the pact). But 22,597 members did not care enough to vote. The legislature passed the measure between June 9 and June 16 before sending the bill to the governor in mid-July for his expected signature. The governor officially signed off on the pay bill on July 21, eight days after receiving it.

“I am confident that by September there will be an agreement on a multi-year 3 or 4 year contract that is above the 2 percent raise,” said Midwood resident Usher Piller, who works for the Office of Temporary & Disability Assistance. “The new contract will be retroactive going back to April 2016.

“The terms of the health plan is holding up the contract now. That’s what they’re negotiating now. There’s already a meeting of the minds on the salary. Health care premiums are the stumbling blocks right now. Health care costs are rising more than general cost of living,” Piller added.

Piller credits PEF President Wayne Spence with this new positive attitude on the part of the Cuomo administration. “He (Spence) basically said to the governor, there is no reason to have war, we can have peace,” Piller told The Jewish Press.

Other gains in the new pact include a 2 percent increase in funding for PEF/State joint committees, and an increase to $260 in the incentive for the Firearms Training and Safety Incentive Program. The over-40-hour compensation time program, which sunset July 1, 2015, will now be continued through June 30, 2017, which allows eligible employees to bank overtime in excess of 40 hours per week for payment at a later date, according to terms of the agreement.