By HENRY GARRIDO
Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO
After a marathon negotiating session in late June, we concluded talks with the city on a new economic agreement, which provides for fair wage increases worth more than 7 percent and a new paid parental leave benefit.
The contract provides for a retroactive 2 percent raise on Sept. 26, 2017, a 2.25 percent increase on Sept. 26, 2018, and an additional 3 percent on Oct. 26, 2019. The contract’s term is from Sept. 26, 2017, to May 26, 2021.
I want to let you know how we approached this round of negotiations differently from previous contract talks. We managed to negotiate the contract in less than a year, faster than in earlier negotiations.
We won decent and fair salary increases, and yes, we believe the increases will keep up with the cost of living.
But the key accomplishments are not merely these raises.
We refused to engage in concessionary bargaining, another break with the past. Let me be clear what that means: This contract has no givebacks!
Paid family leave is wonderful addition to our comprehensive benefits package. Members expressed their interest for a parental leave plan in the contract survey we did last year.
This new benefit will be available as of Jan. 1, 2019.
There is a lot more
The city will make a one-time contribution of $100 per member for the DC 37 Health & Security Plan in both 2018 and 2019. It will also make a recurring $50 annual contribution beginning on April 26, 2021.
These contributions are critical. They allow us to protect our popular prescription drug benefit — which has faced excessive price hikes for years—and improve our dental services.
In parallel discussions between the city and municipal unions on health-care savings, we made sure to protect our health-care coverage. By agreeing to work with the city to find more than $1 billion in savings, we preserved our premium free health-care coverage.
We may be the remaining major municipal union in the country to have free health coverage.
One of our proudest achievements is a $100 per member annual contribution to the DC 37 Education Fund. We have been stuck with an annual $25 contribution for nearly five decades.
An estimated 50,000 municipal employees will leave the city workforce in the next five years. We want to help our members move up the career ladder as they prepare for the future workplace.
The additional funding will help support our education program, which includes training classes and college studies and is designed to make sure members have the skills needed to earn a decent living in our rapidly changing economy.
The contract also includes money for an additional compensation fund for non-salary financial benefits, such as longevities and shift differentials. It also will establish a panel to study the city’s recruitment and retention programs. The panel will identify jobs that need to be better compensated to be competitive with the private sector.
Soon, you will receive a packet that includes information about the economic agreement and instructions on our independently-monitored mail-ballot voting process.
Please look over the material carefully. Once you carefully digest the information, we hope you will vote “yes” on the new contract.
The DC 37 Blog is an online publication of District Council 37, AFSCME, which represents 125,000 municipal employees in New York City. This article originally appeared in the July-August 2018 issue of Public Employee Press.