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Public Employee Press

Breakthrough legislation pushed by DC 37: Law will help provisional workers become civil servants


Under a new law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in late November thousands of provisional city employees will have the opportunity to become civil servants with layoff and other job protections.

The law allows the city to extend a plan for reducing the ranks of the 22,000 provisional workers on its payroll.

By law, municipalities are only supposed to employ provisional workers for up to nine months. At that point, the workers must be hired into a permanent position or be let go.

“This is a tremendous achievement for the union,” DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido said. “It will eliminate the specter of job loss that is always in the back of the minds of provisional workers.”

The city began trimming its provisional workforce after a 2007 court ruling, which upheld the civil service rule that restricts municipalities from employing provisional workers more than nine months. Today, the city employs some 23,000 provisional workers, down from 39,000 in 2008.

Over the years, DC 37 has worked with the Dept. of Citywide Administrative Services to carry out its plan, which required the State Commission of Civil Service’s approval. The union has pressed the city to identity titles and workers affected by the plan, schedule civil service exams and provide input on exam design.

The new DCAS Provisional Reduction Plan aims to:

  • hold a one-time exam for workers with more than two years of service who meet the minimum qualifications for the job. This would affect workers in positions that haven’t had exam lists in the prior two years;
  • limit the reclassification of workers in competitive class titles to non-competitive or labor class positions, and
  • allow some workers to qualify for new positions on the basis of their professional licenses rather than exam scores.

The new law identifies 194 titles without an eligibility list or a scheduled competitive exam.

The extension will allow 4,700 provisional workers — 1,100 of whom are DC 37 members — to take a one-time “qualified incumbent exam.”

Thousands of other provisional workers will have the opportunity to take civil service exams — many held for the first time in years — over the course of the two-year extension of the city’s provisional workers reduction plan.

DC 37 worked on this extension over the course of the year. The union encouraged elected officials in Albany to approve a bill for the extension. Members participated in the union’s campaign to encourage Cuomo to sign the bill into law.

In a letter to the governor, Garrido said that allowing the old law to expire on Dec. 31 would “cause chaos” throughout city agencies.

He pointed out that the dismissal of thousands of provisional workers would disrupt the workplace by triggering a reshuffling of permanent employees according to their bumping rights.

“We will continue to work with the city on this,” said Local 371 President Anthony Wells, chair of the union’s civil service committee.