[ASTORINO] NEWS RELEASE - 1/13/2012
Ned McCormack, Astorino Communications Director (914) 995-2932
Contact: Astorino Spokeswoman Jessica Proud (914) 995-2950/(9
ASTORINO: REPEAL OF TRIBOROUGH AMENDMENT MUST BE CONSIDERED TO ACHIEVE REAL MANDATE RELIEF
Calls on state leaders to repeal onerous law that prevents fair negotiations with unions
Citing reports yesterday that Governor Cuomo and state legislative leaders were reluctant to pursue changes to the Triborough Amendment as part of any mandate relief package, Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino today reiterated his call to repeal or change the law that hinders fair negotiations with public employee unions in contract negotiations.
The Triborough Amendment, which keeps employee contracts in effect after they expire, discourages unions from agreeing to givebacks or concessions, thereby stacking the deck against the other party during contract negotiations. New York is the only state in the nation with this law.
“I’m disheartened to hear that state leaders have no plans to repeal one of the most detrimental state mandates that strips local governments’ ability to fairly negotiate contracts and balance their budgets,” said Astorino. “New York once again has the distinction of being the only state in the nation to have such an archaic and wrongheaded law. Governor Cuomo has demonstrated his desire to bring needed reforms on behalf of taxpayers and putting an end to the Triborough Amendment would make a dramatic impact toward that goal.”
For two years, Astorino has been asking the county’s eight unions to work with him on his “Jobs for Savings” initiatives, which asks union employees to begin contributing to the cost of their health care benefits as a way of creating savings that could be applied to minimizing layoffs. Currently, union employees make no contributions toward healthcare premiums. The annual cost to county employees is over $100 million. When the offer was made to the county’s biggest union—the CSEA—it promptly declared an impasse in negotiations. Even though the CSEA is working without a contract, under the Triborough Amendment, the provisions of its previous contract, which includes free healthcare, remains intact.
Astorino announced support for Westchester Assemblyman Robert Castelli’s legislation that would repeal or scale back the amendment. He noted labor costs in Westchester County are growing exponentially. Salary costs in 2012 alone will increase $9 million and pension costs will surge $13 million.
He continued, “This is not about being anti-union, it’s simply a math problem. Right now, taxpayers lose before contract negotiations even begin—it’s just a matter of by how much. The state has to be serious about tackling these tough issues. If the Governor takes this on, he will have my full support and the support of the taxpayers. With costs growing at unsustainable rates, time is of the essence.”