By GREGORY N. HEIRES
Urban Park Rangers and Associate Urban Park Rangers overwhelmingly approved a new contract that will boost their salaries by nearly 7.5 percent over 49 months.
For veteran workers with at least 20 years of experience in the covered titles represented by Local 983, the increase will ultimately bring home more than $9,000 over the duration of the contract.
Significantly, the contract also adds three new recurring increment payments (RIPs) to the local’s contract.
The old contract included such hikes at the fifth, tenth and fifteenth year of employment. The new agreement calls for additional hikes at three years ($241), seven years ($603) and 20 years ($5,529).
“With these RIPs, we are essentially creating a step-pay plan that guarantees our members receive pay increases outside of our regular salary hikes,” Local 983 President Joe Puleo said.
“The RIPs are a very important cushion for our members, a nice protection against the uncertainties of the economy,” Puleo said. Built into the salary of workers, Puleo noted, the payments are pensionable after two years.
The new contract runs from Sept. 26, 2017, to Oct. 25, 2021. The pact includes compounded wage increases of 2 percent on Sept. 25, 2017, 2.25 percent on Sept. 26, 2018 and 3 percent on Dec. 20, 2019. The American Arbitration Association announced the results of the mail-ballot vote on the contract on Sept. 6.
Workers will receive pensionable retroactive pay from the first day of the contract.
This new contract mirrors the coverage of health insurance and other benefits won by more than 90,000 DC 37 members in their current contract. The DC 37 master contract guaranteed the continuation of premium-free health-care insurance and poured millions of dollars into the union’s welfare fund and education benefit.
The Local 983 members are now eligible for a paid family leave benefit funded through a small payroll deduction. More than 1,000 DC 37 members are taking advantage of the new benefit, which went into effect in January. DC 37 won the new benefit in the negotiations for the master contract.
The Local 983 contract also includes union rights language. The contractual language is based on the state labor law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that aims to prevent public-employee unions from being defunded as a result of a U.S. Supreme Court case that allows non-members to receive union services without paying dues.
Local 983 devoted six years to this successful fight to double the salaries of the Urban Park Rangers and Associate Urban Park Rangers, Puleo noted.
The local accomplished this by pushing for decent raises, the elimination of a two-year 15 percent salary reduction for new employees and the recurring increment payments, he said.
Puleo singled out DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido for offering critical advice and helping the local win the contract. He also said the local’s negotiator Mark Heron, an assistant director in the DC 37 Research and Negotiations Department, and DC 37 Associate General Counsel Steven Sykes, provided key support in the negotiations.
“One down, two to go,” said Puleo, noting that the local will now shift its focus to negotiating new contracts for tow-truck drivers and high pressure plant maintainers.