July 3, 2014
By Steven Wishnia
New York—New York City has reached a tentative contract agreement with District Council 37, the union representing more than 100,000 city workers, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at a City Hall press conference July 2.
The proposed contract would last for seven years and four months—through July 2017—and includes pay increases retroactive to 2011. DC 37 members will get 1% raises for the last three years, 1.5% this September, 2.5% in 2015, 3%in 2016, and an additional 0.52% in March 2017. They will also get a $1,000 signing bonus this year. Executive director Lillian Roberts said members would see a 4.58% raise in September if the deal is ratified.
Members “really want to get their contract,” Roberts said, predicting that it would be approved. “Given the economy, this contract is a monumental achievement,” DC 37 treasurer Maf Misbah Uddin added.
DC 37 members, who do more than 1,000 different jobs for the city, have been working without a contract since 2010. The deal is the first with a city employees’ union whose last contract expired then. Other unions, including the United Federation of Teachers and TWU Local 100, hadn’t had a contract since 2008.
“This is a landmark labor agreement,” the mayor said. “I’m going to state something everyone in this room knows: This is long overdue.” He added that it “confirms the seven-year pattern” set by other contracts agreed to this year.
The deal also includes a commitment by the union to find ways to help the city provide services for less money and to save about $800 million on health-care costs over the next four years. Labor Relations Commissioner Robert Linn said the means of health-care savings were still “in development,” but might include self-insurance, capping the rates paid to the HIP health-maintenance organization, auditing the eligibility of dependents, and “the more effective delivery of health care.”
“None of these envision shifting costs to workers,” he says.
Roberts is optimistic that the productivity savings can be realized by cutting back on the outsourcing of city services. It’s “no wonder” that the city’s budget has risen from $65 billion to $75 billion in the last three years, she says, because it was wasting money on outside contractors like CityTime.
The mayor appears sympathetic on that issue, saying that “we were promised a rose garden, and we wound up with inflated costs and a lack of oversight.”
The deal will also create a committee composed of DC 37 members and city representatives to explore ways to increase recruitment and promotion of women and minorities, as they’ve been underrepresented in higher-level positions. “It’s civil rights for civil servants,” Roberts said, adding that “not much has changed” since 2006, when the Parks Department settled a lawsuit that charged it with discriminating against Afro-American and Hispanic employees seeking promotion.
The issue, says Evelyn Seinfeld, DC 37’s director of research and negotiations, is that when higher-level jobs open up for members, their bosses can pick one out of three eligible workers to move up, and “there’s some unfairness there.” Outsourcing also limits members’ chances of promotion, as it means fewer jobs come open for them, says Roberts.
You can also visit District Council 37's website for more information about the contract at http://www.dc37.net/news/headlines/contract2014.html