Public Workers’ Union Accepts Concessions and Averts Layoffs

LATHAM, N.Y. — The state’s second-largest union of public workers has agreed to accept a revised package of wage and benefits concessions sought by the Cuomo administration, saving thousands of union members from layoffs that would have begun Friday if the deal had been rejected.

Members of the union, the Public Employees Federation, voted by 27,718 to 11,645, to approved the revised contract, which federation leaders had negotiated in an effort to prevent the job cuts that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was set to impose after union members rejected their first tentative contract in September.

The governor had warned that if the revised contract was rejected, 3,500 layoffs would start to take effect on Friday, in what would amount to the largest wave of job cuts at the state level in two decades. Those layoff notices, which the governor suspended after reaching the revised pact, are now expected to be retracted.

The union’s vote took place by mail over the past two weeks. Its results were announced Thursday at a news conference at the headquarters for the federation, which represents 55,000 state employees.

The announcement came five weeks after federation members rejected a nearly identical pact with the Cuomo administration, which would have imposed a three-year wage freeze and increased health insurance costs.

Mr. Cuomo had insisted all year that if union members did not agree to the concessions, he would be forced to initiate layoffs to realize the same savings for the state. He followed through after the first vote, in which 54 percent of union members who returned their ballots said they were not satisfied by the pact.

Union leaders, seeking to save their members’ jobs, scrambled to negotiate a set of tweaks to the contract, shortening it from five years to four and tinkering with how workers would be compensated for the furlough days that the contract imposed.

Mr. Cuomo, asked about the vote at a news conference on Tuesday, said he had done all that was in his power to work out an agreement with the federation that would provide the state with the required savings and still preserve workers’ jobs.

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