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PEF, Gov. Andrew Cuomo reach tentative agreement

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The Public Employees Federation says it has reached a "tentative agreement" with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that would save thousands of jobs in the state, including 100 in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties.
About 3,500 workers in the 55,000-member union have been in limbo for three weeks after the governor sent 3,496 layoff notices, effective on Oct. 19. The layoff notices were sent after the union's membership rejected an original contract offer in September.
PEF said in a news release that Mr. Cuomo's office has agreed to delay the layoff date to Nov. 4 to allow time for another vote. The union's executive board must approve the deal, and then it must go before the full membership for ratification.
The revised proposal is shorter — four years, instead of five. It would reduce the number of furlough days that workers would have to take, and would reduce the lump-sum payment offered in the original deal.
If the deal is approved, PEF workers won't get raises until 2014, when they will get a 2 percent pay hike.
“The ratification of this agreement will demonstrate that our members are willing to sacrifice to save the jobs of 3,496 of their coworkers and preserve the level of service to taxpayers,” PEF President Ken Brynien said in a news release.
Mr. Cuomo, meanwhile, said in a statement that the changes in the deal from the original proposal to the newest one were "revenue-neutral," meaning they didn't cost the state any more money.
"Simply put, the fate of the members is in the union's hands. It's up to them," Mr. Cuomo said.
Mr. Cuomo also said that additional layoff protections weren't included in the newest deal, which the union had sought.

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