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State workers rally in opposition to governor's proposed layoffs

By PAT BAILEY

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The official website of the Public Employees Federation said Monday that they are facing one of the most difficult contract fights in their history. That fight is why one of the largest state workers unions is holding a state wide rally Monday.

The rallies are in response to the announcement last week that thousands of state jobs could be cut. The governor has threatened to eliminate 9,800 positions if $450 million in workforce savings could not be met.

Leaders of the New York State Public Employees Federation (PEF) say they entered into good-faith bargaining with the state on March 16. The state offered the union one contract proposal and PEF returned with a counter proposal.

"I don't know if he chooses to ignore this or his negotiators aren't talking to him at all, because there has been no response at all," said Kevin Conley, Region 6 Coordinator for the Public Employees Federation in regard to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

PEF members say the proposal they put forth was fair and would achieve the savings needed to avoid layoffs and preserve vital services.

Conley says it is not the salaries and benefits of the public workers that out the state into a fiscal mess, and laying off the workers won't fix it.

"We don't get a free pension, we don't get free medical care, we don't get free anything," Conley said. "We pay for that."

Calls to the Governor's press office were not returned Monday.

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