By a vote of 91 to 18 the Executive Committee for PEF approved the tentative contract deal negotiators struck with the Cuomo administration this past weekend. As we have reported many times, the deal is only for four years unlike the original plan which was a five year deal. It also offers reimbursement to workers for required furlough days and lets workers cash in vacation time to offset increased health care costs. Though, it does not offer any guarantees from the Governor that there will be no layoffs in the future.

“The Executive Board recognizes the changes we were able to obtain under the revised agreement address many of the concerns of our members,” said PEF President Ken Brynien.

“Today’s vote gives hope to the 3,496 members who face losing their jobs if the contract is not approved. The revised agreement balances the needs of all of our members and I am strongly encouraging our
membership to ratify the new agreement to save the jobs of their co-workers while preserving the level of service to taxpayers,” Brynien said.

The ballots will be sent out to members starting tomorrow and need to be returned by November 3rd when they will be counted. Layoffs that were scheduled for tomorrow will now be delayed until after the votes are counted.

A press conference is going on now. Stay tuned for updates.

Update: PEF President Ken Brynien says the first contract failed because it was too close to the CSEA contract and his union needed a more specific contract that better meets their needs, including the shorter contract and some way to offset the increased health care costs.

Brynien also says the negotiatons have improved in the past few weeks.

“Negotiations have been better. We have had better direct contract,” Brynien said. “This is what we have said all along, if you let state employees do the work they do it better than outside contractors. The state started out this contract negotiations with outside contractors. Now they have brought in people with employee’s relations. So instead of doing things at arms length, we eliminated the middle men.”

Brynien also told reporters he thinks the union members were support the plan beacuse they are like a family. “I don’t know how you can be a human being who has shared offices with people for years and then say you are on your own,” Brynien said.

Brynien was also asked what the concerns were from the 18 people who voted no. Brynien says those members felt that PEF has given up more and more each year, and they weren’t prepared to make further sacrifices when the millionaire’s tax was not going to be extended.

PEF’s President was also asked about his relationship with Governor Cuomo. He said it was “cordial” and described it as a working relationship.