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President Spence and Governor Cuomo Look Forward to Respectful Dialogue

In his remarks yesterday at the swearing in ceremonies of PEF’s newly elected statewide officers, President Spence said he looked forward to a more respectful and open relationship with Governor Cuomo’s office, and that has already paid dividends. The feeling is respectfully mutual as indicated by the following statement issued by the Governor’s office.

Statement from Melissa Derosa, Director of Communications For Governor Andrew M. Cuomo:
“On behalf of the Governor, I want to congratulate President Wayne Spence as he assumes the responsibilities of leading the Public Employees Federation. The Governor looks forward to a courteous and constructive dialogue with PEF under President Spence’s leadership, and is optimistic that it will be a welcome change from the rancor and destructive rhetoric of the past. The Governor will continue to strive for agreements that are fair to both employees and New York’s taxpayers. We look forward to working together in the future.”

See below, an article by Capitol Tonight reporter Nick Reisman.

SoP: Cuomo’s Office Offers Congrats To New PEF Prez
By Nick Reisman

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Public Employees Federation have not seen eye-to-eye in recent years.
But after Wayne Spence was sworn in as the labor group’s new president earlier today, Cuomo’s office released a conciliatory note of congratulations.

At the same time, the statement from Cuomo spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa signaled a hope for a more staid relationship with the union, which endorsed the governor’s primary opponent, Zephyr Teachout, last year.

“On behalf of the Governor, I want to congratulate President Wayne Spence as he assumes the responsibilities of leading the Public Employees Federation,” DeRosa said. “The Governor looks forward to a courteous and constructive dialogue with PEF under President Spence’s leadership, and is optimistic that it will be a welcome change from the rancor and destructive rhetoric of the past. The Governor will continue to strive for agreements that are fair to both employees and New York’s taxpayers. We look forward to working together in the future.”

Spence, in his speech to union members at PEF’s headquarters earlier today, used similar language, calling for a “courteous dialogue” with the governor when it comes to negotiating a new contract for the union.

Cuomo has had a difficult relationship with public workers’ unions, though he strong bonds with private-sector labor groups, especially those in the construction and trade industries.

The major public workers’ unions PEF and the Civil Service Employees Association last negotiated contracts as the state was emerging from a recession that required them to accept concessions or face mass layoffs.

In the end, the contracts were approved by rank-and-file members, but the hard feelings continued into the next election year, when neither PEF, CSEA or the AFL-CIO backed Cuomo’s re-election bid.