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Westchester Union Leader: 'We Won’t Negotiate Through the Media'

Karen Pecora, president of CSEA Unit 9200, disputes Westchester County Executive’s Robert Astorino’s claim that the union’s reluctance to negotiate health care contributions is the reason 210 workers must be laid off in his 2012 budget proposal.

Even if Westchester County government and CSEA Unit 9200 officials agreed on a new contract today, it may not be enough to save the jobs of the more than 200 workers who would be laid off in county Executive Robert Astorino’s 2012 budget proposal.

, which is about $100 million less than this year’s budget, calls for the eliminations of 367 jobs, including 210 layoffs. If the spending plan is approved, it would represent a workforce reduction of about 7.5 percent from this year and 15 percent from 2010.

The layoffs, which will save the county about $14 million, could have been avoided if the union agreed to a deal that allowed its members to contribute more to their healthcare benefits. Members currently aren't required to make any contributions to healthcare benefits.

The deal would save the county $19 million, according to Astorino.

CSEA Unit 9200, which represents 3,300 county workers, is in the last year of a six-year contract.

“This is my 684th day in office and for 684 days and counting I have asked publicly and privately for our unionized workforce to be part of the solution, to help out and pay a reasonable share of their health care costs just like everyone else is doing,” Astorino said during a press conference Tuesday.

Astorino said he has been met with resistance and that the union has shown no real willingness to help out.

Karen Pecora, the union president, said she was surprised by Astorino’s comments. She said the lines of communication have remained open between both sides and that two dates have been scheduled for negotiations.

“It’s a negotiated item and we will continue the discussion at the negotiating table,” Pecora said. “We will not negotiate through the media.”

Pecora also said it isn’t clear if all the jobs that would be laid off can be saved—even if an agreement is reached on healthcare contributions.

Because of the timing involved with the budget process, Astorino said that it will be tough for the unit to agree to a deal and schedule a vote in time for Dec. 27, the day the Westchester County Board of Legislators must approve a budget.

Below is a description of some of the positions that are being laid off.

  • The Department of Social Services would have 71 layoffs, representing 6 percent of its staff.
  • The Department of Public Works would have 30 layoffs, representing 12 percent of its staff.
  • The Department of Probation would have 15 layoffs, representing 7 percent of its staff.
  • The  Parks Department would have 26 layoffs, representing 9 percent of its staff.

A copy of the budget proposal can be found here.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story failed to clarify the percentage of the county's workforce that would be cut from 2010 to 2012 if Astorino's budget proposal is approved. It has been updated.

Rod November 16, 2011 at 11:15 PM
If the County is in such dire need of money, where did they get the 6 million dollars to buy a helicopter?
Cadeyrn November 17, 2011 at 10:18 PM
Can you cite them?
Francis T McVetty November 19, 2011 at 08:35 PM
Rod, when did they buy this helicopter? I have been looking for it in articles and have yet to find it.
RyeDad November 19, 2011 at 10:40 PM
As usual Karen takes the high road like the true professional that she is. Keep up the good work.
Francis T McVetty November 20, 2011 at 07:54 PM
Ryedad, probably one of the few union leaders that do. The rest of her organization is down at the OWS causing problems for the " working " people trying to go to and from work. I have NO use for this left wing union!!! Nothing but agitators, most of them.

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