County sues unions to invalidate agreement

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County sues unions to invalidate agreement
Rob Walker (Photo courtesy of Nassau County government)

Nassau County is suing five of its public employee unions to invalidate an agreement made under the Mangano administration.

In September 2017, a memorandum of agreement was reached between Rob Walker, the then-chief deputy county executive, and each of the county’s major unions: the Civil Service Employees Association, the Police Benevolent Association, the Superior Officers Association, the Corrections Officers Benevolent Association and the Detectives Association Inc.

The agreement increased longevity bonuses paid to municipal union members and guarantee no layoffs through July of this year.

According to Newsday, county attorneys said the deal was based on the assumption that longevity pay would be restored after the current contracts expired at the end of 2017.

But when the county and unions began negotiating a new contract this year, the Nassau Interim Finance Committee, which has the final say on the county’s budget, refused to allow longevity pay.

The lawsuits, all filed separately, claim that the agreement is not enforceable because it is “based upon a mutual mistake of fact,” Newsday said.

The Curran administration did not factor the cost of Walker’s agreement — more than $10 million, according to Newsday — into the budget.

Before the county can negotiate with the unions, it must first determine whether Walker’s agreement is legally binding.

The deal attracted controversy as soon as its details were made public last September. Then-County Attorney Carnall Foskey, a Mangano appointee, wrote in a letter to the unions that the agreement “exceed[ed] the ordinary terms and usual substance of a MOA.”

Laura Curran, who was a candidate for county executive at the time, slammed the deal in a press conference days later.

“When it comes to keeping things hidden, operating without transparency, and picking winners and losers with taxpayer money, yesterday takes the cake,” she said at a press conference in October.

Nassau County employs about 7,000 full-time union works, Newsday said.

Walker pleaded not guilty in February to charges of obstruction of justice and lying to FBI agents.

He is part of a federal investigation into corruption in Nassau County and whether public officials received money from contractors.

Walker’s mother, Rose Marie Walker, is currently a member of the Nassau County Legislature.

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