State troopers reject latest contract offer

It’s back to the bargaining table for state troopers as members of their union voted down a contract offer that would have run through March 2018.

While the supervisors, including sergeants and majors in the State Troopers PBA said yes to their offer, the much larger troopers unit failed to ratify their contract proposal.

Major snags were said to be higher health care costs as well as limits for the amount of overtime that troopers can get when appearing for court testimony.

The deal, if approved, would have increased pay, for example, for a 10-year veteran from almost $99,000 to $107,000 by the end of the contract in 2018.

There was also an ”expanded duty” clause that took into consideration factors such as the role troopers played in responding to Superstorm Sandy and for new responsibilities such as carrying and — when needed — administering Naloxone, an anti-narcotic medication.

Those working downstate in locations such as Long Island or other New York City suburbs also would have received a cost-of-living differential as they have in past contracts.

Geography may have played a role in the vote. Local police in Suffolk and Nassau counties on Long Island frequently earn more than troopers, which could have prompted a heavy ”no” vote in that region.

The troopers’ last contract expired in 2011, so they are working under the terms of that agreement. It remains one of just a handful of expired contracts under which state employees are working.

Pay increases for the supervisors would now need to be agreed to in the form of a pay bill by the Legislature that would be included in the 2015-16 state budget.

The troopers PBA declined comment on the ratification defeat.

State Police spokeswoman Darcy Wells said they don’t comment on negotiations.

Leaders of the PBA, though, in an earlier memo to members, had warned that if the contract wasn’t ratified it could take a year or more until a new deal is finalized.

There was no indication when or if the state would make a counteroffer.

There is some level of interest in the troopers deal since contracts with other major state employee unions, most notably the Public Employees Federation, will expire this year, meaning that contract talks could be starting in the next several months.

Troopers are viewed differently from most estate employees, though, due to the risks of the job.

PEF and another major union, the Civil Services Employees Association, for example, agreed to three years without raises as well as furloughs in their last contracts. Had they not agreed to that, the Cuomo Administration said there would have been layoffs.

There was no talk of layoffs in police negotiations.

In addition to health care and overtime, the administration had also proposed a 10-hour workday for troopers who now work 12-hour shifts.

Officers are said to like the 12- hour schedule since it provides them with multiple days off when they are not working.

PBA officials including President Thomas Mungeer worked with Joe Bress, the Cuomo Administration’s chief negotiator and Mike Volforte, interim director of the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations. • 518-454-5758 • @RickKarlinTU