Nassau committee approves hundreds of layoffs

A Nassau legislative committee Monday increased pressure on labor leaders to make concessions as it approved layoffs of hundreds of county employees by the end of the year.

The Republican-controlled Rules Committee voted 4-3 along party lines for GOP County Executive Edward Mangano's plan to lay off up to 400 county workers and demote 200 others if union leaders do not volunteer $75 million in savings by Thursday.

The full legislature will vote on the layoff plan next Monday if concessions don't materialize. Layoffs and demotions would take effect Dec. 29.

While there was little discussion during the committee meeting, legislative presiding officer Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa) said afterward: "The unions have to make a deal. This is serious business; $75 million is no joke."

But incoming Democratic leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said Democrats will argue against layoffs at the full legislative meeting Monday. "We're against layoffs. We were against them earlier this year, and will be against them next week," Abrahams said. "Layoffs decimate the county."

Mangano's chief deputy, Rob Walker, told legislators before the vote that the administration still is negotiating with the unions. Walker said that if layoffs were to occur, Nassau would be able to continue to provide services by "better utilizing" personnel and information technology.

Mangano has said the financially strapped county needs unions to agree to not only the $75 million in concessions by Thursday, but another $75 million in givebacks by Feb. 1. A state control board has agreed to allow the county to borrow $450 million over four years to pay property tax refunds, employee severance costs and court judgments if Mangano can achieve $150 million in recurring labor savings.

Jerry Laricchiuta, president of Nassau's Civil Service Employees Association, said Monday that he is working with Mangano to institute an early retirement incentive program for his members to encourage more highly paid workers to retire. He said he hopes to have the retirement plan ready for legislative approval by next Monday.

The county expects CSEA to produce about $40 million in savings, which Laricchiuta said could lead to as many as 350 layoffs without the incentive. "We're hoping to get half of that by incentives and save half the jobs," Laricchiuta said.

Source: News Day