NIFA passes 2 resolutions toward lifting freeze on unionized county workers

Dozens of county workers gathered with signs in hand to protest the wage freeze, calling it unfair and illegal. (3/10/14)

UNIONDALE - The watchdog agency charged with overseeing Nassau County's finances passed two resolutions Monday night that lay the groundwork to lift the wage freeze on unionized county workers.   

The Nassau Interim Finance Authority board says the freeze will be lifted if several conditions are met by the county and the unions. The unions must agree to concessions, including all new Nassau County employees paying into their pensions and all employees contributing to their medical benefits. 

Board Chair Jon Kaiman says the county must also achieve cost savings or find new sources of revenue, like new speed cameras and red light cameras. Kaiman says that if these measures fall short, they may look to use sales tax revenue to fund the raises for county workers. 

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The freeze was ordered for county workers by NIFA three years ago. Recently, spats between NIFA and the county's administration have erupted over the freeze, particularly after the county gave raises to non-union workers and were then ordered by NIFA to "claw them back."

Nassau PBA President James Carver said he is on a mission to end the wage freeze for unionized workers. "It absolutely has to end, that is the bottom line," Carver says. "After three years of a long wage freeze, finally to be able to get out from underneath this and get some certainty back in everyone's life is the important thing."

However, Nassau Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams says the county can't afford the raises or the estimated $230 million in back-pay. "The county can't afford anything," Abrahams says. "I mean even putting this deal aside, the county still has a $100 million deficit projected for 2015. We're still very much in the red."

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