May 10, 2016
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – The organization representing city managers and confidential employees says that there are other ways the de Blasio administration can fund Paid Parental Leave that doesn’t involve scrapping pay raises and eliminating vacation days for senior staffers — and they have now filed suit to push the issue.
“They did this without consulting us,” Stu Eber, New York City Managerial Employees Association president, said on Monday. “They did not ask us. They did look for alternative means of funding this. And there are alternatives.”
Mayor de Blasio issued a personnel order establishing paid parent leave for about 20,000 non-union municipal employees back in January. The new policy provides for six weeks of paid time off for maternity, paternity, adoption and foster care at full pay.
To fund for the benefit, however, the administration has decided to revoke a less than 1-percent pay raise MEA members were anticipating next year and clip two vacation days from the benefit packages of senior managers.
Among the half dozen or so alternatives the MEA says are viable ways of funding Paid Parental Leave, include utilizing the “catastrophic leave bank” which holds excess leave time that members have accumulated but not claimed.
“There are many ways of doing this,” Eber said. “Other cities and localities also have PPLs set up, and they pay for it in different ways. Chicago, San Francisco, Portland and a couple of other jurisdictions have had this program and they’ve paid for it. But one of the big differences is that they talked to the employees about it.”
Bernard Orland, director of Environmental Health and Safety for the NYC Department of Education, said that the current administration’s decision to fund Paid Parental Leave at the expense of city managers, actually perpetuates the same kind of disrespect managers experienced during Michael Bloomberg’s reign.
“Instead of having that little respect and even that slight pat on the back saying, thank you for sticking it out through the good times and bad times, for being here for us and our folks — it seems that instead of that pat on the back, it’s more of a smack on the back of the head,” Orland said.
Wasyl Kinach, director of Classifications at the NYC Office of the Comptroller, said that senior managers are, in fact, being “penalized.”
“Instead of supporting senior managers, we’re being penalized,” Kinach said. “Days are being given to the younger managers, which doesn’t seem right.”
The de Blasio administration, however, calls its actions “common sense policy” and says that Paid Parental Leave is being similarly funded in lots of other places, and city managers already have one of the most generous leave packages in the country.
“Why did the mayor do it this way?” Eber said. “He didn’t do it to the unions because he can’t do it to the unions. The unions have a contract.”
The MEA lawsuit was filed last Friday. A court date is expected in mid- to late June, but could be postponed.
Nevertheless, MEA attorney Stuart Salles said that the plaintiffs are hoping for a “quick determination.”
“Our goal is to keep the paid parental leave, but find another methodology to fund it,” he said.
This is not the first time the MEA has sued the city. The group filed suits roughly two decades ago involving overtime pay.
Editor’s Note: MEA President Stu Eber and Attorney Stu Salles will talk more about Paid Parental Leave funding on the May 15 edition of LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” broadcasting from AM970 The Answer at 9 p.m. Stu Salles was recently named LaborPress CEO.