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Gov. Cuomo, Union Reach Tentative Agreement

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in Albany, N.Y. on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the union representing state workers have reached a tentative agreement that could avoid close to 3,500 layoffs if approved by the union’s membership, which voted against an earlier agreement.

The New York State Public Employees Federation said Sunday that the agreement will be presented to the union’s executive board on Monday. If approved, it will go out to the membership for a vote.

The two sides have been racing against an Oct. 19 deadline for layoffs to begin statewide. The union said if the executive board approves the contract, the layoff date will be pushed back to Nov. 4 to allow enough time for the membership vote.

PEF’s members in September rejected a tentative contract negotiated by its leaders that would have avoided layoffs, but included a wage freeze, unpaid furloughs, higher health care contributions and other concessions.

In the agreement announced Sunday, there would be no wage increases in 2011, 2012, and 2013, with a 2 percent increase for 2014. A lump sum payment contained in the earlier agreement would be exchanged for a reimbursement of unpaid furlough days at the end of the four-year contract, the union said.

“The ratification of this agreement will demonstrate that our members are willing to sacrifice to save the jobs of 3,496 of their co-workers and preserve the level of service to taxpayers,” said PEF President Ken Brynien.

Cuomo has taken a hard line in talks with all unions, and has said union concessions are needed. Savings are already budgeted as part of the way the state balanced its budget and addressed a $10 billion deficit.

Cuomo said his administration “has been more than reasonable and fair.”

“Simply put, the fate of the members is in the union’s hands,” he said. “It’s up to them.”

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(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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