Paterson Defies Own Attorney On Layoffs
Gov. David Paterson is stubbornly insisting on moving ahead with his plan to lay off 2,000 state employees before his term ends on Dec. 31, despite the fact that his own counsel has deemed his legal footing in doing so “precarious” – at best, administration sources confirm.
Paterson’s top counsel, Peter Kiernan, told agency heads during a conference call last week that he had advised the governor his memorandum of understanding with labor unions reached in exchange for their support of a fifth pension fund tier clearly states the state cannot “threaten” layoffs in 2010.
But, according to a source who was on that call, the governor has been adamant about forging ahead, insisting the cuts are necessary to make up for the $250 million worth of workforce savings included in the budget but never realized due to a stalemate between his office and the public employee unions.
Some have privately suggested Paterson is desperate to make a lasting impact in his final days in office. Since the budget battle was settled, Paterson has largely fallen off the radar screen, emerging to do radio interviews and appear on Saturday Night Live.
A recent poll found New Yorkers are so disappointed with Paterson that they would have preferred to see scandal-scarred former Gov. Eliot Spitzer remain in office instead.
Paterson initially said layoffs would take place just as he left office, leaving the decision up to his successor. But then he changed course, saying he didn’t want to foist that responsibility off onto whoever takes office after he’s gone.
He has insisted on a Nov. 15 start date for layoffs out of a desire to avoid handing out pink slips during the holiday season, but his advisors says that’s unrealistic and Dec. 15 is a more likely deadline.
Agency heads had to submit their reduction of force plans last Friday. The plans have not yet all been approved. The next step will be to the issuance of so-called “blue cards,” which let an employee know he or she is targeted for firing.
Unionized workers have what’s known as “bumping” rights – a complicated process I don’t entirely understand, in which senior employees in posts earmarked for elimination have the ability to drop down to a lower salary line and “bump” whoever is on it out of a job.
The AG’s office, which would be charged with representing the administration against the public employee unions in court in this battle, has deemed Paterson’s position merely “defensible,” but hasn’t taken a position as to whether it’s a good idea.
That’s significant, of course, since Andrew Cuomo appears likely to be inheriting this problem from Paterson. CSEA has already filed a grievance against Paterson, accusing him of violating the Taylor Law.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on October 11, 2010 at 11:11 am, and is filed under Albany, David Paterson, Labor. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|