Curran criticizes deal between administration, municipal unions

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Curran criticizes deal between administration, municipal unions
Laura Curran addresses the press in front of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building. (Photo by Luke Torrance)

Laura Curran, the Democratic candidate for country executive, has denounced a deal made between Nassau County and the municipal union.

“When it comes to keeping things hidden, operating without transparency, and picking winners and losers with taxpayer money, yesterday takes the cake,” Curran said of the deal at a news conference last Thursday in Mineola. “I thought I’d seen everything.”

Chief Deputy County Executive Rob Walker signed a deal to increase longevity bonuses paid to municipal union members and guarantee no layoffs through August of next year.

Longevity payments to union members have remained static since the Nassau Interim Finance Authority imposed a wage freeze in 2011.

In a Sept. 26 letter to CSEA President Jerry Larichiutta, Nassau County Attorney Carnell Foskey said that Walker had gone too far.

“The terms of this [Memorandum of Agreement] exceeds the ordinary terms and usual substance of a MOA,” Foskey wrote.

Typically, Foskey said, a MOA is used to agree on the interpretation of a particular provision in a collective bargaining agreement or provide clarification of a particular provision. It is not used to expand or modify an existing agreement.

In 2014, NIFA agreed to modify the 2011 wage freeze with the CSEA, but these modifications did not include restoring the longevity payments. Foskey said that the agreement made between Walker and the municipal union was in essence an amendment, and would need approval from both the Legislature and NIFA before it went into effect.

For Curran, Walker’s actions were just another example of a corrupt act by a county official that has eroded residents’ trust in government.

“This is the same Rob Walker that admitted under oath at the Skelos trial that he was under investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office for corruption,” Curran said.

Walker has acknowledged that he was under investigation over the awarding of contracts  but he has not been charged with any crime.

Curran said she had no plan to lay off police officers or other municipal union members if she is elected county executive.

“But I also know that that it wouldn’t be legal for me to sign an agreement with them now to make these kinds of promises,” she said.

She also said the timing of the agreement was suspicious, coming “just days before these unions announced support for my opponent.”

Jack Martins, the Republican candidate for county executive, received an endorsement from the CSEA a few days earlier. But Martins’ spokeswoman, Mollie Fullington, said there was no deal to secure the union’s support.

“The implication is absurd,” she said.

The county’s contracts with unions will expire at the end of 2017.

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