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Cuomo Threat Has New York Agencies Preparing for 9,800 Firings

June 10 (Bloomberg) -- Governor Andrew Cuomo told New York state agencies to take the next step in preparing to eliminate 9,800 job positions as talks with labor unions on new contracts remained stalled.

Agency heads were given a June 13 deadline to provide a list of employees to be terminated and to contact workers eligible for transfer, based on seniority, to positions that won’t be eliminated. Dismissals would begin July 15, Director of State Operations Howard Glaser and Budget Director Robert L. Megna wrote in a memo dated June 8.

Cuomo, a 53-year-old Democrat, has threatened the firings unless unions agree to $450 million of savings, which are included in the fiscal 2012 budget passed on March 31. The governor directly oversees a workforce with 187,000 full-time positions.

Negotiations that began March 16 are at a stalemate, said Darcy Wells, a spokeswoman for the 56,000-member Public Employees Federation, the second-largest state-employee union.

“It’s very frustrating to have this bomb drop and makes it more difficult to negotiate from here,” Wells said by telephone from Albany today. The union offered two counterproposals to the state’s initial offer, and requests to meet have gone unanswered, she said.

The budgeted savings amount to annual givebacks of as much as $3,000 for every public employee in the executive branch, according to the union. The negotiations center on a four-year agreement that would replace the previous pacts, which expired April 1.

Pension Proposal

New York’s $132.5 billion spending plan reduced total outlays 2 percent to help close a $10 billion deficit.

The governor on June 8 unveiled a proposal that would alter the state’s pension system for future workers, which he said would save taxpayers $93 billion over 30 years.

The new pension tier would boost the retirement age for future employees to 65 from 62 and raise worker contributions. It would also end so-called padding, in which workers artificially inflate their salaries with overtime in the final years of employment to receive bigger retirement checks.

A separate proposal applies to New York City and uniformed services, and doesn’t count toward the estimated cost savings. New York state’s $140.6 billion pension fund is the nation’s third largest.

Danny Donohue, president of the 300,000-member Civil Service Employees Association, the state’s largest public union, called the pension proposal “an attack on working people.” Stephen Madarasz, a spokesman for the CSEA, couldn’t be immediately reached for comment about the letter today.

Cuomo, the son of three-term Governor Mario Cuomo, took office in January after he was elected with more than 60 percent of the vote.

To contact the reporter on this story: Esmé E. Deprez in New York at edeprez@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net

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