After more than two years of this pandemic, it is time we stand up for what is right, move forward, and engage the city to come to the table and negotiate a fair and just contract.
Everyone should have received a bargaining survey as part of DC 37’s negotiating team’s efforts to work out a new contract with Mayor Eric Adams. This survey gives you a democratic voice in winning the best possible agreement. Surveys are essential because for us to fine-tune and finalize all our demands, we need to know yours. We are undoubtedly heading into a long, drawn-out series of bargaining sessions with the city so we need to be fully prepared for what’s to come.
In addition to addressing the economic needs of our members, we also need to pinpoint your non-economic needs in this new era. To win the best possible contract, we need to have a priority list so we know what our members consider the most important and then we can work our way down the list. As we review your responses, we thank you for participating in the survey. It will genuinely help us prepare for our next steps.
This will be a different and difficult negotiation requiring innovative solutions and tough choices for both sides. This contract will be about more than just across-the-board wage increases; we intend to make new demands to provide a safer workplace and significant contributions to our Health & Security Fund.
We have no choice but to confront our current reality. In negotiations, the City must do the same. The COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact changed everything. An unexpected calamity devastated our communities and had far-reaching economic and social consequences.
We live in a changed world, which means the rules have changed, too.
For more than a year and a half, lives were disrupted. Hundreds of DC 37 members paid the ultimate price in doing their jobs as essential public workers, and tens of thousands were sickened by the coronavirus.
Many of our workers were forced back to work last year with little notice and found themselves facing less-than-100%-safe conditions. Since then, cases of COVID-19 have spiked at least twice. The human cost alone is too much for us to bear, and even the monetary aid the city received from the federal government, it has not been nearly enough to cover the medical care, family disruption, and financial downturn caused by the pandemic.
That’s why teleworking is a central demand in our negotiations. We proved that most of our members can do their jobs just as efficiently and safely from home. For those who can do their jobs remotely, and have proven themselves doing so during the peak of the pandemic, then teleworking ought to be an option. COVID-19 changed the world in more than one way.
We made this demand twice last year and relentlessly pushed for legislation in Albany. Now it is time to mandate a telework policy in the upcoming contract.
Wage increases must be reflective of the state of the current economy, with food and fuel costs rising to prices beyond the reach of many Americans. We are also demanding hazard pay for our members who continue to risk their lives in commitment to public service. Federal funds were earmarked by legislation last year for this purpose, yet we have not seen the money.
The city also must address skyrocketing hospital costs for our members, retirees, and their families — costs that burden the Health & Security funds of not just DC 37, but other city unions. For too long, New York City’s five private hospital systems have done backroom deals with insurance companies taking the lion’s share of Medicare reimbursements, leaving our city’s public health care system with a small portion.
Winning a fair contract is a collective effort, and to succeed, we must stand together and fight.