October 15, 2016
By Neal Tepel
New York, NY – After a wave of negotiations over the past seven years, over one thousand Administrative Managers (AMs) employed by the New York City area will have their minimum wage adjusted.
The journey for justice for Administrative Managers began in 1976 when this group of employees fought for collective bargaining and union representation but were forced into the Managerial Pay Plan (MPP). The Koch administration began the suppression of the entry level wage in the MPP as women and people of color became eligible to be promoted to managerial titles while raising the wages of incumbent white male managers.
Former members promoted to Administrative Managers came to CWA 1180 complaining that they would be earning more if they had not been promoted to management. In 2009, the Communications Workers of America Local 1180 was certified to represent Administrative Managers employed by New York City and the New York City Housing Authority, with the goal of reaching an agreement regarding minimum and maximum payment.
Citing inequalities due to a lack of union representation, the Union stressed that AMs were being treated unfairly as the title was increasingly populated by women and people of color. Historically, AMs were predominately white men, with more women and minorities being appointed to the position over time. The Union asserted that the City suppressed the AM minimum salary, even as the maximum salary rose, prohibiting them from being able to keep pace with collective bargaining increases, other managerial increases, or the cost of living.
On April 13, 2016 a hearing was held to review the issues of payment and new hire rate. CWA 1180 submitted a proposal with salaries tracked precisely what the AM minimum would be if the title had received the same collective bargaining increases of Principal Administrative Associates (PAA). To validate the cost of living argument, CWA 1180 pointed to a chart from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, that set a living wage for an entry level single worker at $15/hour, it calculated that a living wage for a parent and child in the New York City area is $57,083 whereas the AM starting wage is $53,373. This $4,000 gap became a legitimate fight for the Union.
As a result of the established collective bargaining pattern increases, the minimum salary will be $58,929 as of April 6, 2017. The arbitrator acknowledged the Union presented a compelling case that the aforementioned salary created a compression problem and agreed that a reasonable adjustment should be made for those at or close to the minimum salary.
He found that based on the statutory criteria in the NYC Collective Bargaining Law, and record evidence, the minimum AM salary be increased by $5,000, bringing the salary of the AM minimum to $63,929 on April 6, 2017. The amount addresses the need for competitive salaries with comparable positions. The arbitrator also awarded $1,000,000 in retroactive pay for those who remained at or below the minimum from 2009 to 2016. The arbitrator explicitly stated he was not taking into account the finding of the Federal EEOC that determined there was probable cause the City of New York was discriminating against women and people of color working as AMs. That case is now being investigated by the US Attorney’s office after it was referred to them by the EEOC.
“We have fought for years, from one administration to the next, in our journey for justice for Administrative Managers this is yet another step with more to follow. The absurdity of the New York City Managerial Pay Plan (MPP) is now confirmed. For decades it offered status without substance but these managers did not have a union to fight for them, now they do. To declare an employee a manager then pay less than a living wage is an indictment of the MPP. This award is another step for career civil servants who have decades of experience and found qualified through competitive examinations to be fairly compensated. We will continue our fight to ensure our members have future opportunities with fair compensation as they advance in their careers,” said Arthur Cheliotes, President of CWA Local 1180.