Union Pushes For New Plan on Provisional Workforce

BY GREGORY N. HEIRES

The union is pushing for a new plan to reduce the ranks of provisional employees by moving thousands of them into permanent positions.

A high-level union negotiating team is working with the Dept. of Citywide Administrative Services and the Office of Labor Relations to gain job security and civil service status for the workers.

DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido said he hopes the plan will be a breakthrough chapter in the city’s long saga of trying to pare down the number of provisional employees on its payroll.

The city began this effort after a court ruling known as Long Beach which upheld the civil service rule that restricts municipalities from employing provisional workers for more than nine months. When provisional workers reach that time on the job, local governments are supposed to let them go or move them into permanent positions.

“We want to work closely with the city on this plan and make sure this process works in the best interest of our members,” Garrido said.

DCAS’s “Provisional Reduction Plan” aims to:

  • 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 provisional reduction plan requires state legislation and the approval of the New York State Civil Service Commission. Currently, the city employs 22,000 provisional workers represented by DC 37 and other unions. The largest group of workers comprises 7,000 employees in jobs that have not had exam lists for more than two years.

At the time of the Long Beach decision, New York City employed more than 30,000 provisional workers. During the Bloomberg administration, the union successfully derailed several proposed changes that would have weakened the civil service system and jeopardized worker protections.

“This is a move in the right direction,” said Local 371 Anthony Wells, who chairs the union’s civil service committee, about the plan. “We must protect the integrity of the civil service system. And we are optimistic that, if this works out as we hope, members in certain titles will get promotions.”

Through the labor-management Recruitment and Retention Committee, the union is also working with the city to open up opportunities for members to advance in their careers.

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