New York, NY – New York City sanitation workers have ratified a new four-year contract with the city by a near unanimous margin. On Friday, May 29, Sanitationmen’s Association President Harry Nespoli announced the agreement.
The workers, members of the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, backed the contract with 98% approval, he said. The contract covers more than 6,400 sanitation workers and includes a 2.25 percent wage increase retroactive to January 20, 2019, a 2.5 percent increase retroactive to January 20, 2020, and a three percent wage hike effective January 20, 2021.
LaborPress asked if Nespoli if he thought the contract was sufficient to compensate the current dangers to these essential workers during the coronavirus crisis.
“When I first started negotiating this contract, it was prior to the virus,” he said. “There was a pattern [of negotiation] already by other unions that wasn’t enough. But [when the crisis hit] I knew that in a crisis the city gets hit. I said, I will go with the basic patterns of the unions because I wanted a quick ratification. We shook hands across the table. I myself got the virus – me and my wife – and it knocked us out for about four weeks. That was during the height of the virus – people were going to the hospital and dying. We were lucky. So I asked my members to vote, then I asked them to ratify. I got the count back on Thursday – 4, 132 yes, 70 no. We mailed 6,490 ballots and got back 4,202. That is good considering what we are going through now.”
Nespoli also told LaborPress about the importance of the work his members do, and how they deserve what they got in the contract, and more.
“These men and women are out there every single day. They have to pick up the trash. If they don’t, we have other problems – bacteria, rats, everything else in the city. What this workforce has done since the virus hit is unbelievable – how they are working. The mayor recognized them in a press conference last week. Like other crises – like Hurricane Sandy – that cripple the city, we are going to help the city move forward in the right direction. I felt in the beginning of the negotiations that this wasn’t enough, but I never expected what the city got hit with – the financial burden.”
Nevertheless, Nespoli is happy the contract is ratified, and says that he doesn’t think that Washington will forget about New York, and that in return, “As far as I’m concerned, any labor movement they need – will turn around and help them get what they need.”