Nassau correction officers vote down contract

Leaders of the union representing 725 Nassau County correction officers will “go back to the drawing board” with county officials after members voted down a proposed agreement that would have raised wages by a total of 15% over five years.

Members of the Sheriff’s Correction Officers Benevolent Association on Aug. 31 voted against ratification by a margin of 107 votes — 358 against, and 251 for — with more than 100 members not voting, union president Brian Sullivan told Newsday.

The union represents correction officers of various ranks, a majority of whom work in the Nassau County jail in East Meadow.

“We will go back to the drawing board with the county and resolve this issue in the best interest of the members,” Sullivan said Tuesday.

Officers would have received raises of 2% in 2020 and 2021, 2.5% in 2022 and 2023 and 3% in 2024 and 2025, according to a copy of the proposal obtained by Newsday this week.

The deal also includes a one-time signing bonus of $1,000 per officer; retroactive pay raises from 2020; contributions of 2% to 2.5% for health care premiums; and an annual stipend of $3,560 after 15 years of service.

With the COBA negotiations, Republican County Executive Bruce Blakeman, a Republican who took office on Jan. 1, is making his first attempt at negotiating a contract with a county public employee union.

Blakeman declined to comment for this story.

But an administration official, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to discuss the negotiations, argued the administration’s offer “was fair and raised officer salaries 15% over five years.”

Sullivan declined to respond, citing pending negotiations.

COBA is one of the three Nassau public employee unions working without a new contract. All five of the county’s union contracts expired at the end of 2017.

The Detectives’ Association Inc. and the Superior Officers Association signed new contracts under the administration of former County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat.

Those unions’ contracts, approved in 2019 and 2020 respectively, were awarded pay raises totaling 15% over 8 1/2 years.

The Police Benevolent Association, Nassau’s largest law enforcement union, failed to ratify a proposed contract under the Curran administration.

The CSEA, the county’s largest employee union, also is operating under the terms of an expired contract.

In Nassau, collective bargaining agreements must be approved by the 19-member county legislature and the county’s fiscal control board, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority.

The COBA contract negotiations come at a time of significant leadership changes at the jail.

Nassau County Sheriff James Dzurenda resigned with little public notice on Sept. 6, and the Blakeman administration named Undersheriff Anthony LaRocco of Valley Stream as acting sheriff.

The same day, the administration promoted Michael Sposato, whom Blakeman had brought back to the county correction department in January as deputy undersheriff, to Nassau commissioner of correction, overseeing operations at the county jail.

Sposato served as Nassau County sheriff during the administration of former County Executive Edward Mangano, a Republican.

During Sposato’s tenure, the correction officers union called for Sposato’s firing as sheriff, alleging lapses in security and other mismanagement of the jail.

The union held rallies outside the jail that drew hundreds of correction officers and staff in 2016.

Spsato denied the union allegations.

Sposato also had supported the jail’s private medical contractor, Armor Correctional Health Services, after a state oversight agency found the vendor provided inadequate care in connection with inmate deaths.

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