Tentative deal faces vote by rangers, ECOs in New York

Retroactive pay part of pact that will cover 2005-2014

Albany – New York's environmental conservation officers and forest rangers are poised to receive thousands of dollars in retroactive pay hikes under a contract agreement that stretches from 2005 through 2014.

The deal, which also covers state university and state park police, was hammered out between the state and the Police Benevolent Association of New York. It still faces a formal ratification vote later this month, but indications are officers will approve the pact.

The tentative agreement was announced last month and ends a lengthy process which included rejection last year of a contract proposal negotiated by the officers' parent union at that time, Council 82.

PBA of New York State president Manuel Vilar called the agreement "a fair and reasonable contract" which, when ratified, will bring a conclusion to seven years of frustration and uncertainty. Jointly, the PBA of New York and Gov. Cuomo have found common ground that both addresses the needs of its members and recognizes the fiscal limitations of the state."

The retroactive pay hikes – details of which were sketchy – will mean officers will receive back pay checks of thousands of dollars. Estimates range from $20,000 for some ECOs up to as much as $50,000 or more for veteran officers.

The retroactive pay will go the officers in two installments this year - one covered in the current fiscal year and the other later this year coming from the 2012-13 budget by the end of the calendar year.

The agreement, which parallels those hammered out by the state's two largest unions last year, includes some health care concessions but also protections against layoffs.

Under the tentative pact, officers will receive no pay hikes in 2011-13 and a 2 percent salary increase in 2014.

"In these tough fiscal times, shared sacrifice is needed, and this agreement puts in place important layoff protections for our officers while helping the state meet the demands of a tight budget," Cuomo said in a prepared statement announcing the tentative settlement.

In addition to the salary numbers and retroactive pay, the tentative pact includes:

• a $1,000 retention bonus – paid out $775 in the third year and $225 in the fourth year

• "Deficit Reduction Leave" (paid furlough of five days this fiscal year and four days next fiscal year.)

• an increase in health insurance premium share increase of 6 percent for both individual and families, making the share 16 percent for individuals and 31 percent for family premiums.

• random drug testing and drug testing for probationary employees, in addition to "reasonable suspicion" testing.

• a labor/management committee to review all leave taken by officers, including annual, personal, sick, workers compensation.

• A health plan opt out to allow officers to opt out through a spouse/partner to a non-state health plan. Under the opt out, participants would receive $1,000 individual or $3,000 family.

• broad layoff protection, although "unanticipated changes" in the state's fiscal status will not be covered by that protection.

Officers have not had a contract since 2005 and were in arbitration for the years 2005-2007. After the rejection of a deal orchestrated last year by Council 82, officers broke away from that union and formed one of their own. The Police Benevolent Association of New York State is headed by former state police troopers' union president Daniel DeFredericis.

Cuomo last year got the state's two largest unions – the Civil Service Employees Association and the Public Employees Federation – to agree to five-year contracts that included some concessions in exchange for layoff protection.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *