The Public Employees Federation has rejected a contract with New York state that would have slashed benefits and frozen pay but saved it from thousands of layoffs.
According to the New York Times, the union represents 56,000 state workers.
I have a call in to PEF about how many of those workers are in Northern New York; when you call the union's offices, your call goes right to an automated voice message about the rejection of the contract, by a 19,629 to 16,906 vote. Roughly 70 percent of the membership voted.
Now, the union wants Gov. Andrew Cuomo to come back to the bargaining table. But so far, he's said (about negotiations in general, not PEF in particular): Take concessions, or layoffs.
“The decision to reject the tentative agreement was made by our rank-and-file members who clearly feel they are being asked to sacrifice more than others, particularly in light of the pending expiration of the state's millionaire's tax," said PEF President Ken Brynien.
Statements, I'm sure, will be rolling in on this one.
The Senate Democratic minority leader, Sen. John Sampson, wants Mr. Cuomo to come back to the table, he said in the first statement that hit my inbox.
“In this economic environment we must do all we can to avoid layoffs," Mr. Sampson said. "The administration and the Public Employees Federation should return to the bargaining table in a last-ditch effort to reach an agreement acceptable to both sides."
UPDATE: Mr. Cuomo releases a statement that is somewhat opaque, but he urges PEF "to reconsider."
"The members of the Public Employee Federation (PEF) have made their decision on a contract that would have protected them against the state needing to lay off their workers in order to achieve the required workforce savings passed as part of this year's budget.
In this economic reality, rising state workforce costs are unsustainable, as the members of the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), the state's largest union, recognized when they overwhelmingly passed an identical contract. The Legislature passed a budget that made clear that reducing these costs would be achieved either through the collective bargaining process or through layoffs.
I urge them to reconsider."