By GREGORY N. HEIRES
IMPORTANT: Mail ballots will be sent out to all covered union members on Tuesday, July 25. Ballots must be received by AAA on August 14. If you do not receive a ballot, please call AAA, at 1-800-529-5218.
The union and city agreed June 25 on a new no-giveback 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 delegates approved the tentative agreement on June 26.
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 the union’s other 25,000 other members–calls for:
- 2 percent raise on Sept. 26, 2017 (the first day of the contract)
- 2.5 percent increase on Sept. 26, 2018
- 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,”
As part of the agreement, the union and the city agreed to work together 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 bolstering vital services and benefits.
Boosting Education and Workplace Skills
The contract includes an infusion of nearly $10 million dollars into the union’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 highlights of the tentative agreement:
- Approximately $10 million dollars will be added to the union’s welfare fund to improve benefits.
- 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 will be based on .2 percent of the Dec. 31, 2016, payroll.
- The contract establishes an equity panel to address recruitment and retention problems. The panel will include a city representative, a union representative and a neutral member. 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 payments such longevities; uniform, equipment and transportation allowances; and experience, certification, educational, license and night-shift differentials. The city will boost these fringe benefits by 3 percent, reflecting the rate 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 bolsters union rights at a time when labor is under attack across the country. Provisions in the agreement echo 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: Free Premiums and $1.1 Billion in Savings
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.
Mail Ballot Vote
The union will soon send out a mail ballot to members 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 DC37 website: www.dc37.net.
Members must return the ballot within 15 days of its mailing date. The vote will be overseen by an independent monitor.
The agreement does not apply to Emergency Medical Services workers, Fire Protection Inspectors, Urban Park Rangers, Traffic Enforcement Agents Level III and Level IV, City of University employees, prevailing-rate workers, Local 1070 (workers at the Office of Court Administration), New York Law School, Grand Central Partnership, Children’s Village, Local 1359, Sodex employees and Local 1931.
The DC 37 Blog is an online publication of District Council 37, AFSCME, which represents 125,000 municipal workers in New York City.