Why Not Furlough The New York State Legislature?
Come Monday, and every week thereafter until New York has a State budget, 100,000 NYS employees will have a day off, without pay.
The threat from Governor Paterson, and the rationale behind the furlough, is that without such unpaid leave, the Empire State would have to shut down.
Please. Don't make promises you are unwilling to keep!
Here's a novel thought. If State workers, including those who can least afford to lose a day's pay, must feel the pain, why not have the Governor and every member of the New York State Legislature share their pain?
No pay check until there is a State budget in place. In fact, let them give back every penny they haven't earned since April 1, the date mandated by law for New York's budget.
And let's take back those pension credits, too, as well as any other perk enjoyed by our elected officials.
They have no compunction in calling for "shared sacrifice." All right, then. Share and share alike!
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4 unions file suit over state's furlough plans
by JAMES T. MADORE / email@example.com
ALBANY - Four state-employee unions filed lawsuits Tuesday to overturn what they called "unconstitutional" furloughs set to begin on Monday.
The Civil Service Employees Association, Public Employees Federation, United University Professions and Professional Staff Congress of CUNY each requested a temporary restraining order from U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence E. Kahn here. They said the furlough plan, devised by Gov. David A. Paterson and approved by the Legislature, violates the U.S. Constitution's prohibition against states adopting laws that interfere with contract obligations.
CSEA and PEF also asked the judge to compel New York to pay a 4-percent wage increase and contribute to benefit plans, both of which have been withheld since April 1 because there is no state budget.
The judge was expected to request a formal response from state leaders by week's end and possibly hold a hearing in Albany before deciding whether to issue the restraining order.
UUP president Phillip H. Smith said, "We have a legal and binding contract with the state. The state does not have the authority to walk away from the contract and throw SUNY into turmoil, at a time when the faculty are giving final exams and grading papers."
Paterson acknowledged the hardship. But he vowed to move forward with the furlough plan, which requires 100,000 unionized workers to stay home one day per week without pay until a new state budget is in place. On Long Island, about 11,600 people will be affected, primarily at Stony Brook University and other SUNY campuses.
Paterson said $250-million in union concessions were needed to help close a $9.2-billion budget deficit. He said the attorney general would argue that the furloughs are legal because when New York negotiated the labor contracts in 2007, there was no way of knowing a recession would occur.
"It was not within the contemplation of the parties . . . this state being in so much of a recession makes us unable to pay them at the level we normally would or risk insolvency," Paterson said.
He refused to say what he would do if the courts block his furlough plan. Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch suggested Tuesday that workers could be laid off.
State officials emphasized furloughs would be implemented over a seven-day period to minimize the disruption in services.
Asked about furloughs after a Capitol news conference, Stony Brook president Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said they wouldn't be concentrated on a single day in order "to minimize the disruption to our students and others."
Lawmakers predicted the federal judge would side with the unions.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) said he expected a ruling soon that would remove the furloughs from future emergency spending bills. "The courts should dispose of that issue this week," he said.
Separately Tuesday, an Albany television station reported Paterson had given raises recently to five of his staff members. The raises ranged from $5,000 to $10,000 per year and were linked with promotions. Four of the five staffers work in the press office.
Paterson aide Morgan Hook defended the pay hikes, saying, the individuals were doing work that had been performed by more highly-paid people who have since left the administration. Hook also said the press office's total compensation had dropped by $300,000 per year.