It’s a Deal! Five-Year Contract Includes Wage Increases, Flexible Work
Members to vote on ratification this month
By MIKE LEE
After four rounds of intense negotiations, District Council 37 and the Adams Administration reached an economic agreement for city workers with a late-night handshake on Feb. 16.
The historic collective bargaining agreement is subject to ratification by the 90,000 members who work at New York City’s mayoral agencies, NYC Health+Hospitals, the Department of Education, NYCHA, three city library systems, cultural institutions, and workers at the offices of the Borough Presidents, District Attorney, and the City Comptroller.
The contract term is 65 months and 12 days—from May 26, 2021 to Nov. 6, 2026—and calls for 3% pay increases in the first four years and 3.25% in the last year. The five-year, five-month and 12-days agreement provides a 16.21% pay increase compounded, including retroactive pay, and a $3,000 signing bonus upon ratification. Retroactive pay kicks in from the first day of the proposed deal.
The City also agreed to raise the minimum pay for hourly workers, meaning DC 37’s lowest-paid members covered by this agreement will receive $18 an hour if they are currently earning less.
The union won a major victory in getting the City to agree to a remote work option for eligible essential public workers. In the agreement, a joint committee on work flexibility will address issues and develop policies for telework, compressed work, flexible schedules, and expanding transit benefits for DC 37 members covered by the agreement. The committee has a deadline of June 1 to implement a pilot program.
Other highlights of the agreement include:
- Continuing premium-free health care benefits for DC 37 members and their families
- Adding a new Child Care Trust Fund run by the union to provide financial assistance to members who need help with child care.
- Continuing the Equity Panel, that since its establishment in 2018, has been successful in its mission of examining civil service titles and new job responsibilities for specific pay inequities.
- Implementing a Pandemic Response Joint Committee to ensure members have the needed equipment to respond to COVID-19 or future contagious diseases.
- The City paying an additional $50 per member contribution to the Welfare Fund to help address the rising costs of prescription drugs.
At a joint press conference held at City Hall in lower Manhattan on Feb. 17, both sides were on hand to discuss the contract and answer questions from reporters.
“This is by far the most difficult negotiation we have had to go through,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido. “I want to take a moment to thank the members for their patience and support for the union as we went through this challenging process.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said that as a former union member and a city employee, “I know how hard DC 37 members work for this City. I know what they went through during the pandemic. They did not surrender. They did not give up. Instead, they rose to the occasion.
“This agreement is our opportunity to state that DC 37 members matter, we know who they are, and we are with you,” he said. “We need DC 37.”
In the past, Mayor Adams was clear in his opposition to public workers working remotely, citing economic reasons, and strongly viewing implementation as unfair to workers in titles who could not work remotely. However, he set aside his views and moved toward the union’s position in the negotiations.
“My personal beliefs cannot get in the way of running the city of this level of complexity,” Adams said. “I clearly stated that we must have equity. There are jobs in this union and in this city that cannot work remotely: our police officers, our nurses, our firefighters, our transit operators. So as we make this shift into the post pandemic reality, we must do it in a thoughtful way in partnership with the union.”
Garrido said, “We need to remain competitive in city government, which means thinking differently about how we hire, recruit, and retain workers. That means a flexible work schedule, one that acknowledges that the workplace has changed. One that provides the possibility for remote work where available and necessary. This is an opportunity, and I’m glad to have partnered with a mayor willing to listen.”
This contract agreement sets the pattern for later negotiations with DC 37 titles not covered under this contract and for other New York City municipal unions.
“We consider this the economic framework under which we will be bargaining,” Mayor Adams said at the press conference. “I’m in bargaining right now with many unions.”
DC 37’s Delegate Assembly overwhelmingly endorsed the contract at a Feb. 28 meeting.
The American Arbitration Association is the independent organization conducting the contract vote. AAA will mail information and a ballot to all eligible DC 37 members this month to the address on file with the union. Once ballots are received by AAA no later than the deadline of 9 a.m. on March 31, counting begins and the results are reported to the Union. Members will be notified of the ratification outcome after all votes are counted.
For questions about the contract, click here for more information.
March 10: Member ratification period begins. Ballot packages mailed out by AAA
March 17: All members in good standing receive ballot package in the mail
March 31: Ballots must be received by AAA from members no later than 9 a.m.
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