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Nassau County employees protest wage freeze

Jim Dolan reports from Uniondale.
March 10, 2014 8:39:48 PM PDT
Nassau County police and employees took to the streets of Uniondale Monday to protest a wage freeze.

Hundreds of workers from the Nassau County PBA and Civil Service Association took part in the demonstration.

A couple of hundred Nassau County workers rallied outside the NIFA meeting in Uniondale Monday night, begging for relief from a wage freeze that has kept some workers at barely a $30,000 base salary for more than three years.

"Nassau County owes me a lot of money," said James Prince, a Nassau County fire dispatcher.

James Prince left a $50,000 a year job in the city to take a $32,000 a year job as a fire dispatcher because he was promised regular pay hikes.

"They gave us actually a letter that said after six months you would be bumped up to approximately, just shy of $40,000. And after one year you would be bumped up to approximately $50,000. And you would go on from there. (Did any of those raises ever happen?) None," Prince said.

Older workers have been hurt, too. Their retirement benefits are based on how much they earn in their last years of service.

"I'm retiring within a year and a half so that money I should have got would have gone into my pension, so now I'm getting less for the rest of my life," a Nassau County worker said.

At a meeting Monday night of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, they opened the door for a negotiated settlement to the wage freeze, but the sides will have to agree soon.

"It could be days or weeks and certainly our goal is to have it done by the end of the month, there is actually millions of dollars in savings that could be achieved," said John Kaiman, the NIFA chairman.

But the raise will not come cheap. Unions will have to agree to a host of givebacks, they'll have to start contributing to their pensions, and retroactive pay raises seem unlikely.

"People are starving! I mean, people can't feed their families. There's a lot of people here that are at $30,000 that started the job late, it's not right. We just want what we are supposed to have," said Sabrina Waller, a Nassau County worker.


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