After his executive board voted overwhelmingly to send a new tentative contract deal to its full membership, Public Employees Federation President Ken Brynien was asked about the union’s relationship with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office in the wake of an initial contract proposal that was rejected by PEF’s members and 3,496 (now-suspended) layoff notices that went out as a result.
Here’s how Brynien responded:
“At this point we’ve been talking several times a day, and it has been cordial and we’ve had strong words between each other because we’re bargaining,” he said. “But it has remained professional and we have a working relationship and I think that will be important going forward, because there’s a lot more work to do in this state and if we’re not working together, then we’re working against each other and that’s in nobody’s best interest.”
Just last week, with negotiations lagging and layoffs slated to take effect Oct. 19 with no tentative deal in place, Brynien had accused the state of “dragging its heels” in contract talks. Since then, however, Brynien said negotiations had improved.
“Negotiations have been much better. There’s been more direct contact,” Brynien said yesterday. “I’ve been proven true actually in that what we’ve been saying for years is that state employees do the work better than outside, hired consultants. The state had started out these negotiations using outside, hired consultants rather than using its own employees in the state Office of Employee Relations. Now they brought in the people from Employee Relations to do the work.
“I’ve been having practically daily conversations with the governor and his director of state operations. So rather than trying to do things at an arms length, we’re now directly involved in trying to work things out. When you cut out the middle man, you get better results and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing.”
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of PEF’s rejected deal with the state and the new tentative agreement, which was sent out to its 55,000 members today and will be counted on Nov. 3: