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Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

Union, City reach a no-layoff agreement


After several weeks of intense negotiations, the de Blasio administration and DC 37 agreed on a no-layoff pact that will save the jobs of 22,000 union members.

City workers, including first responders and other public employees who were on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic, are safely on the payroll through fiscal year 2021, which ends in June. In exchange, the City will defer payments to the union’s welfare funds, for a savings of $164 million. The agreement also stipulates that if the City receives $5 billion in budget relief, it will extend the no-layoff agreement to the end of June 2022.

The City will repay the deferred contributions to DC 37’s four welfare funds in two lump sum payments in September and November 2021.

“Our responsibility as union leaders is first and foremost to protect the jobs of our members,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido. “With this agreement, DC 37 members have allowed the City to continue providing necessary services to New Yorkers during these challenging times. We should all appreciate that they now may continue to do so without the threat of layoffs. In the meantime, we will continue to push all levels of government to fund the frontlines in practice, not just rhetoric.”

The agreement is the culmination of a campaign by DC 37, along with other municipal unions, to fight back against the potential layoff of tens of thousands of city workers as a consequence of budget cutbacks due to the economic disaster caused by the COVID-19 pandemic this year.

That campaign culminated in a rally on Sept. 3 in Foley Square, attended by more than 300 public workers from numerous city unions and supporters, including NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, State Senator Diane Savino, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, and myriad City Council members. Several DC 37 locals were represented in the socially-distanced gathering that was covered extensively by the City’s major print and broadcast media.

DC 37 also began its own major media effort that included producing a widely-shared video featuring essential workers who were part of the pandemic response and a letter-writing campaign to lobby legislators for passage of vital bills to prevent the layoffs.

The no-layoff campaign had an impact in both sides reaching an accord by the end of October. Other union leaders praised the deal.

“At a time when our country is experiencing catastrophic losses, I am happy the political leadership of New York City worked with the union leadership of DC 37 to avert layoffs for the city’s most vulnerable workers,” said Shaun D. Francois I, Board of Education Employees Local 372 President, and President of DC 37.

SSEU Local 371 Anthony Wells, who alongside Garrido was involved in the MLC negotiations with the City, said, “Workers’ jobs have been saved. Lives are protected. We thank all who helped. City fiscal issues require cool heads, negotiation, and commitment. This is a first step.”

Several other city unions have already settled similar deals with the city, while others are in the process of reaching agreements with the de Blasio administration.

Photos: Marci Rosenblum, Tricomm Creative
Local 983 President Joe Puleo kicks off a labor rally his union sponsored with DC 37 and SSEU Local 371 in Foley Square to send a message to the NYC Council, Mayor de Blasio, and the State Legislature that 22,000 layoffs were not an option for balancing the budget. That rally proved successful! From left: DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido, Local 371 President Anthony Wells, and Puleo. Pictured at top: union members came out with signs to remind electeds that city workers are essential workers.