ALBANY – The New York State Public Employees Federation (PEF) will be taking the Cuomo Administration to court over its refusal to allow health insurance opt-out for members in the PS&T unit. PEF President Susan M. Kent said that PEF has been in arbitration over several sections of contract language that were negotiated by the previous PEF Administration and that the court action is being taken because the Governor is refusing to abide by the terms of our contract. The opt-out benefit allows members in the PS&T unit to opt-out of their own health insurance policy with the state health insurance program (NYSHIP) to achieve coverage as a dependent on a different state NYSHIP policy through a domestic partner or other family member.
“This is not the first time the governor refused to abide by a binding ruling. He did the same thing last year concerning management-confidential employees who should be placed in the PS&T bargaining unit,” Kent said. “The governor’s action today is not something that can go unchallenged. “
PEF had previously filed a class action grievance against the state regarding this issue which is clearly outlined in the agreement between PEF and the state in the Health Insurance Opt-Out provision. The arbitrator agreed with PEF and held that the state violated the agreement when it refused to give the opt-out benefit to some unit members.
Since the arbitrator’s decision in August, PEF has been discussing implementation of this award with the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations. It was not until today that PEF was verbally informed that the Cuomo Administration would not comply with the arbitrator’s award during this current option period. Kent said, “When I was elected I pledged that this was the new PEF and that we would fight for our members and not hesitate to go to court when necessary.”
PEF is New York’s second largest state-employee union representing 54,000 members in the professional, scientific and technical fields.