Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this morning on Susan Arbetter's radio show that he'd consider renegotiating a failed contract with the Public Employees Federation, as long as the final product doesn't cost the state any more money.
"If tweaks means I have to find more money from the taxpayers, that's not a tweak," Mr. Cuomo said.
He said also he was unwilling to offer five-year job security to state workers.
"I don't have five-year job security," Mr. Cuomo said. "Nobody gets, 'You will have a job no matter what happens for five years.'"
Mr. Cuomo basically said that if PEF wants to shift around some of the health care costs within the employee structure, for example, he'd be open to that.
PEF, in a membership vote, rejected a contract with Mr. Cuomo on Tuesday. The contract would have saved the state millions. The state will get those millions in savings anyway, via roughly 3,500 layoffs.
It's not immediately clear how many of those will hit the north country, but pink slips are arriving in email inboxes already. The biggest hit seems to be at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center, where we've heard 29 people were notified of layoffs.
Workers there, though, are mum. They've been instructed not to talk to the media. That's because, though they received layoff notices, they won't necessarily be out of a job. The notices don't take effect for three weeks. They can "bump" people with less seniority at other facilities. Or the union could have a come to Cuomo moment and vote to approve a contract — in what form, we don't know.
"I'll tell you this: If October 19 comes and I'm still in this situation, you'll be getting a call. And I'll talk," a worker who got a layoff notice told me on condition of anonymity.
Looks like things are thawing. PEF President Ken Brynien sent the following statement:
“I heard the governor’s willingness to have open communication with us and I am encouraged the governor is willing to hear our ideas," Mr. Brynien said. "At this time, we see no evidence to suggest that a revote would result in an different outcome. We are anxious to discuss with the governor’s negotiators how we can reach an agreement my members are willing to ratify while preserving state services and meeting the savings the state requires. Our team remains in place, ready and willing to meet with the governor’s negotiators. We are now in the process of making those arrangements,” Mr. Brynien said.