Andrew Cuomo seeks to kick public employees out of union

Move would affect 1,000 state government workers

Published December 16, 2014 2:02PM (EST)

  (AP/Mike Groll)
(AP/Mike Groll)

An estimated one thousand New York state government employees received notices Monday that Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration aims to reclassify their jobs as non-union, a move that could weaken a federation that has previously butted heads with the centrist Democratic governor.

Workers at more than three dozen state agencies received the notices, the Times-Union of Albany reports. Among those affected would be attorneys, auditors, parole hearing officers, program specialists, and tax law judges, according to the paper. The Cuomo administration seeks to have the Public Employment Relations Board to classify the jobs as managerial/confidential positions, rather than unionized ones.

The 1,000 workers who received the notices on Monday are members of the Public Employees Federation. In an email yesterday, the group's president, Susan Kent, assured members that "we will be fighting this.

Yesterday's move was the latest salvo in Cuomo's ongoing war with the PEF. In a rebuke to the Cuomo administration, the Albany County Supreme Court recently ruled that 250 managerial/confidential jobs should be union-protected. The case stemmed from a dispute that dates to March 2013.

Earlier this year, the PEF endorsed Zephyr Teachout, Cuomo's opponent in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Teachout, a Fordham University law professor who capitalized on progressive unease with Cuomo's neoliberal economic policies, finished with a surprisingly robust 34 percent of the vote in the September primary. Some PEF members are wondering whether the Cuomo administration's bid to reduce the 54,000-member union's ranks is retaliation for the Teachout endorsement, the Times-Union reports.

By Luke Brinker

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