June 6, 2012
By Marc Bussanich, LaborPress City Reporter
Local 375 and DC 37 union leaders stood on City Hall’s steps on Tuesday, June 5 to demand Mayor Michael Bloomberg to use the almost $500 million dollars given back to the City by a private contractor to rehire displaced municipal workers and to pay for a new contract with Local 375.
The union, which has been working without a contract since April 2010, represents the City’s technical professionals and general engineers, who played an important role in uncovering the City Time scandal that ultimately cost City taxpayers $780 million for private IT contractors. The union noted at today’s presser that instead of paying 230 private consultants $400,000 a year, the City could have paid 100 City employees an average of $75,000 a year.
The private contractor responsible for the City Time project [digitization of the City’s payroll system], Science Applications International Corporation, agreed to pay back to the City $466 million to avoid criminal prosecution.
Apparently the Mayor wants to keep that money in reserve, but Local 375 members see otherwise. Mike McCasland of Local 375 said, “We say the money should be returned to the very people who got laid off, to those who don’t have a competitive salary.”
McCasland added, “Invest in our workers now, or we’re going to pay for it tenfold down the line in the form of an uneducated society, larger classroom sizes and a weaker tax base.”
Local 375’s President, Behrouz Fathi, told the media that Mayor Bloomberg considers himself a successful businessman, but failed to properly manage public funds.
Fathi said, “We demand the Mayor rehire laid-off public workers, restore service to the public, negotiate a new contract with Local 375 members and provide wage increases. We are asking City Council members to vote responsibly on the upcoming budget.”
Council Member Letitia James deplored the increasing costs of private consultants the City hires as shameful.
She noted that Mark Page, the City’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget, once told her that she didn’t understand the procurement policies of the City of New York.
“A contract [City Time] that started out at $63 million and ballooned to almost $800 million dollars, I guess I knew, along with DC 37 members, a little bit about procurement projects,” said James.
She emphasized, “I say to the Mayor and the media that there are other City Time contracts that have been revealed to the City, but the City continues to turn a deaf ear to the complaints and evidence we’ve presented that contracts are ballooning.”
Because the City isn’t responding to the City Council’s request for more oversight of private contracts, 11 of New York’s Congressional members have requested the Comptroller General of the United States in the Government Accountability Office, Gene L. Dodaro, to launch a thorough investigation of the fraudulent bidding processes that not only cost City taxpayers but results in the loss of millions of dollars of federal funding.
The letter signed by the Congressmen and women attribute the investigations of fraud between city agencies and private companies to the City’s Comptroller’s Office, which recently reported that the City’s income gap is twice the national average.
For example, the Comptroller’s Office notes in a report produced by the office’s economic advisory team that “the City’s tax filers in the top 1 percent accounted for 32.5 percent of the City’s entire reported income in 2009….By comparison, the top 1 percent across the U.S. accounted for 16.9 percent of income.”
A source said private firms that have business dealings with the City that total over $246 million include Bank of New York, Black Rock (a private equity firm), Capital One, Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan, Deutsche Bank USA and HSBC.
“There’s money in the budget. When the Mayor says there’s not enough money and he has to make tough choices with the budget, it’s just not true.” firstname.lastname@example.org