WGXC-90.7 FM

CSEA defines the battleground

Dec 07, 2010 10:46 am
CSEA, New York's largest union of state employees, has sent a letter to outgoing Gov. David Paterson that questions his lame-duck spending of $16.7 million for a variety of building projects, including $5 million to New Jersey to help publicize a bid for an upcoming Super Bowl at The Meadowlands, plus earlier executive pay raises in various state departments, in light of 900 layoffs occurring over the holiday season. The letter from union president Danny Donohue calls Paterson's proposal "a lasting legacy of failure” and sets the battlegrounds for deficit discussions across the board as profits and capital projects get played against public employment during a time of already significant unemployment. All following years of deeper layoffs in the private business world, defined as "downsizing," that have helped bring our employment to its current state.

ALBANY – CSEA President Danny Donohue is calling on Gov. David Paterson to rescind plans to issue layoff notices scheduled to go out to nearly 900 state employees later this week.

The union leader said there is no good reason for the governor to proceed with layoffs and the misguided plan is contradicted by news reports that he is lavishing $17 million in discretionary spending on pet projects, coupled with the continued filling of high salaried, top level jobs in state agencies.

“Everyone but the governor and some other politicians seem to understand that laying people off is bad for the economy,” Donohue said. “It takes away paychecks that would be spent in local communities, loses taxes that would otherwise be paid and eliminates front line employees who actually deliver necessary services that help generate revenue.”

“It is also a cruel and unnecessary action in this holiday season that will hurt innocent families,” Donohue said. “No one should ignore the human misery that governor’s plan will cause to real people.”

A CSEA analysis shows that the state savings will be minimal when accounting for required layoff costs and lost taxes.

“The layoff plan is nothing but political spite for CSEA holding him to a negotiated contract and his no-layoff pledge as his administration mishandled every opportunity for cooperation,” Donohue said.

CSEA reached a no-layoff agreement with the Paterson administration in July 2009 in exchange for the union’s commitment not to oppose the enactment of a new Tier V for the state retirement system. The pension reform took effect Jan. 1, 2010, and the administration claimed it would save New Yorkers $35 billion in the long term.

Throughout the past year, the Paterson administration has sought to renege on its no layoff commitment and has repeatedly demanded unilateral concessions from CSEA. While insisting that state’s economic challenges required employee givebacks, the administration ignored all union ideas, big and small for saving money and improving government operations. All the while, the administration continued to fill top-level positions despite a state hiring freeze while taking no other emergency measures.

Donohue also pointed out that the administration’s layoff plan may follow the letter of the law on the no-layoff agreement, but it certainly violates the spirit of the agreement.

“The governor should think long and hard about whether he wants to end his administration with 900 employees following him out the door on Jan. 1 and leaving a lasting legacy of failure,” Donohue said.