Public Employee Press
The union’s new 44-month economic agreement provides for a 7.42 percent wage hike. An accompanying deal preserves our premium-free health coverage.
By GREGORY N. HEIRES
DC 37 and the city agreed June 25 on a new 44-month economic agreement, which provides for a total pay hike of 7.42 percent and substantial funding for benefits, including a new paid family leave plan.
DC 37 members and retirees will continue to enjoy premium-free health insurance until at least 2021 as a result of parallel negotiations between municipal unions and the city.
The economic agreement — which covers 100,000 members — and sets the pattern for the separate contracts of DC 37’s other 25,000 members — calls for:
- a 2 percent raise on Sept. 26, 2017 (the first day of the contract)
- a 2.25 percent increase on Sept. 26, 2018, and
- a 3 percent hike on Oct. 26, 2019.
Compounded, the three raises will boost the pay of members by 7.42 percent.
“The agreement is a clear example of the importance of collective bargaining and what can be achieved when the employers and employees negotiate in good faith,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido at a press conference at City Hall with Mayor Bill de Blasio on June 26.
“This administration has shown that, at a time when forces across the country are trying to degrade the value of the collective bargaining process, you can tackle big problems when you approach workers with respect,” he said.
As part of the agreement, the union and the city will cooperate to opt in to the New York State Paid Family Leave program by January 2019. Paid Family Leave enables employees to bond with a newly born, adopted or foster child; care for a close relative with a serious health condition; or assist loved ones when a family member is deployed abroad on active military service.
DC 37 Director of Research and Negotiations David Paskin noted that the union approached this round of bargaining differently from the past. In addition to wage increases, the union focused on significantly bolstering vital services and benefits.
Boosting education & workplace skills
The contract includes an infusion of $20 million dollars into DC 37’s education fund to enrich training and skills-building programs for members. These programs include basic education courses (math, reading, writing, computer and foreign language skills), industry-specific training (upgrading of engineering, computer, health-care and information technology skills) and labor education courses.
One of the reasons for DC 37’s focus on education is that as many as 50,000 municipal employees are expected to retire in the next five years. The union wants to help new members meet the demands of the future workplace in areas such as leadership, critical thinking, creativity, conflict resolution and public speaking.
Other important gains in the contract include:
- Approximately $20 million dollars will be added to the DC 37’s Welfare Fund to improve benefits over the term of the contract.
- Resources for an additional compensation fund to provide members with extra income on top of their salaries. Typically, unit bargaining groups — which represent workers in similar job categories — invest the additional money in the DC 37 Annuity Fund or use it for non-salary pay increases. The funds ($12.6 million) will be based on .2 percent of the Dec. 31, 2016 payroll.
- An equity panel will address recruitment and retention problems.
The panel will include a city representative, a union representative and a neutral participant. The panel will be in charge of allocating funds based on .2 percent of the Dec. 31, 2016, payroll after determining eligible titles. Besides making city salaries more competitive, the equity money will be used to compensate workers for improving their skills or expanding their job duties.
- Funding for “additions to gross,” which are extra earnings such as longevities; uniform, equipment and transportation allowances and experience, certification, educational, license and night-shift differentials. The city will boost these categories by 3 percent, the same rate as of the third pay increase in the contract.
In the last two rounds of bargaining, the city insisted that these increases be covered by the pool of money available for salary hikes, thereby reducing the percentages of pay increases. Significantly, this contract provides funding without reducing what’s available for salaries.
- The contract expands union contractural rights at a time when labor is under attack across the country. Provisions in the agreement reinforce a new state law that grants the union greater access to newly hired workers and makes the dues collection process more efficient.
- The deal includes direct deposit for all new employees. Eighty percent of the workforce already has direct deposit. Employees hired after contract ratification will be automatically enrolled in direct deposit. Seasonal and Job Training Program workers will be exempt. A new labor-management committee will study such issues as helping workers opening a bank account.
Health care: $1.1 billion in savings and still no out-of-pocket premiums
The health-care agreement between the Municipal Labor Committee — which represents city unions on health matters — preserves free premiums and seeks $1.1 billion in savings: $200 million in fiscal year 2019, $300 million in fiscal year 2020 and $600 million in fiscal year 2021. The city and unions agreed to a similar plan in the last round of bargaining.
The MLC and the city have started discussion on finding savings. One plan is to create “Centers of Excellence” for cancer and orthopedic treatment. Memorial-Sloan Kettering would provide the cancer care.
The health-care savings plan will establish a labor-management committee to study the union-administered DC 37 Med Team health insurance plan to find ways to improve efficiency and coverage.
Voting by mail
DC 37 delegates approved the tentative agreement on June 26.
The union will soon send out an information packet and mail ballot to members to allow them to vote on the agreement.
Only those employees who have signed a membership card are eligible to vote. To sign a membership card, please click on the “Join As A Member” button on the home page of the DC 37 website www.dc37.net.
Union members must return the ballot within 15 days of its mailing date. The vote will be overseen by an independent monitor.
This pact sets the economic framework for those members not covered directly by this agreement, which include Emergency Medical Services workers, Fire Protection Inspectors, Urban Park Rangers and Traffic Enforcement Agents Level III and Level IV, City University of New York, prevailing rate titles, the School Construction Authority, the Unified Court System, New York Law School, Grand Central Partnership, The Children’s Village, Sodexo, Local 1359 and Local 1931.
New contracts at Queens Library and Brooklyn Academy of Music
Two DC 37 locals recently concluded negotiations, resulting in significant improvements in their contracts. These include gains in compensation and workplace protections.
Brooklyn Academy of Music
Local 1502 members approved a seven-year contract that provides security guards with a $2,000 yearly salary increase.
The contract boosts the differential — extra pay — of guards who get their fire safety director certification from $3,000 to $4,000. Workers certified after the contract ratification will receive a one-time cash bonus of $2,000.
The term of the contract is from July 1, 2003, to June 30, 2020 and includes a new $500 longevity payment when workers reach their fifth anniversary date. At 10 years, workers will receive a one-time $1,000 payment.
Upon retirement, members will receive the cash value of one-third of their accumulated sick time, in addition to any terminal leave.
Custodians who handle garbage of the BAM Café vendor will be guaranteed a minimum of two hours work with double overtime.
Bereavement leave will be expanded to include siblings-in-law.
Queens Library Guild Local 1321 upgraded the terms and conditions of its contract to recognize the contractual benefits of about 100 unrepresented
library staffers who joined the union about a year ago.
Many of the new members wanted union protections because of the library’s practice of firing at-will employees without cause and freezing the pay of some non-union employees while they provided contractual salary increases to the unionized staff.
The newly organized workers have an array of titles. Many of the new members are information technology workers.
Through negotiations, the union successfully pressed the library to reclassify the workers so their duties would match those of their corresponding city titles.
The reclassification made sure the workers’ salaries were adjusted to be in line with the city salaries. The adjustments raised the salaries of many of the workers.
The new members are covered by the local’s grievance process. They also gained longevities, which provide extra pay for a worker’s years on the job. As local members, they have right to vote on the contract and to elect their union leaders.