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State workers to get 3% raises under labor deal

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(The Center Square) — Tens of thousands of state workers will be getting a 3% raise under a tentative labor deal reached between New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and two public employee unions.

The agreements, which must still be ratified by the unions’ rank-and-file membership, would authorize pay raises and enhanced health care and other benefits for about 90,000 state workers who are represented by the New York Public Employees Federation and United University Professions.

The three-year contact with the federation covers more than 51,000 state employees in a variety of professional, scientific and technical titles. Workers would get a 9% bump over the three-year term of the contract, according to the Hochul administration.

The deal with United is a four-year agreement benefitting more than 37,000 State University of New York system faculty and professional employees. It includes a 3% increase each year of the contract, as well as a retroactive 2% wage increase for the previous school year.

Hochul praised the tentative agreement and the unions’ leadership “for helping to bring these deals to fruition and for their partnership in ensuring that New York workers’ pay and benefits reflect their important contributions to our state.”

“Through these agreements, my administration is standing by its commitment to investing in New York’s public workforce and continuing to work hand-in-hand with our brothers and sisters in labor,” the Democrat said in a statement.

Under the agreements, part-time academic employees would get an increase in their pay from $3,750 to $6,000 at university centers and from $3,250 to $5,500 for comprehensive and technical colleges.

Frederick E. Kowal, United’s president, called the tentative contract a “fair and equitable agreement with reasonable salary increases, minimum salary gains for part-time contingent faculty and other enhancements important to our members.”

“This is an historic agreement that builds upon the gains achieved in our last contract, all while addressing many of our members’ current concerns,” he said in a statement.

Wayne Spence, Public Employees Federation’s president, also praised the contract, saying it goes a “long way toward recruiting and retaining the skilled professionals New York needs.”

“Governor Hochul promised to invest in the public workforce, and we believe this contract reflects that vow,” he said in a statement. “She has long valued the services PEF members provide to New Yorkers in good times and bad.”

Lawmakers, unions and education advocates have for years raised concerns about low pay for adjunct professors who work in the state’s public college system.

Hochul has also approved pay raises for other state workers as part of the $229 billion state budget she signed last month. The spending plan includes a bump in pay for attorneys representing low-income state residents and a 4% cost-of-living adjustment for human services workers employed at state-funded facilities.

Last year, the State Bar Association filed a lawsuit against the state, alleging the rate of compensation received by counsel outside of New York City is so paltry that it violates the constitutional rights of indigent defendants who it represents.

The budget includes a plan to raise the minimum wage to $17 an hour, beginning with $16 an hour next year in New York City, and indexing it to inflation starting in 2027.

Business leaders pushed back against plans to raise the wage floor, which they say would lead to job losses, income reductions, and closures for smaller employers.

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