In an important budgetary win for Cuomo, members of the larger Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) voted two months ago to ratify a similar five-year deal, including a three-year base pay freeze and an increase in health insurance contributions. The negative PEF vote (by a 19,629-16,906 margin, in an impressive 65 percent turnout) seems to have taken aback the governor and the union leadership, although it could not have been a complete surprise. PEF represents the state's better-paid lawyers, research scientists, engineers and the like, who faced bigger increases in their health insurance premiums than the lower paid, less educated CSEA members. And in contrast to CSEA, there was an organized opposition movement in PEF.
As one union member told a labor publication last month, "We have the Triborough Amendment -- why do this to yourself?"
remains very unclear is how Cuomo and the union can craft a different
deal that still delivers the savings he was counting on of roughly $400 million over the contract term. And if they do
shape such a deal, why would union members be any more likely to vote
for it now -- when they have a better idea of who is not likely to be losing their jobs?