Mail Ballots on CUNY Contract Deal Will be Sent Out in Late November
By GREGORY N. HEIRES
By the end of the month, members who work at CUNY will receive an informational packet about a tentative agreement on a new contract.
Members will vote on the 52-month deal, which provides for a raise of over 8 percent, through a mail ballot included in the mailing.
Besides the mail ballot, the packet will include a summary of the contract proposal and a letter from DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido. The mail ballot vote on the agreement will be tabulated on Dec. 18 by the independent American Arbitration Association, which is handling the voting process.
DC 37 and the City University of New York agreed on Nov. 1 to the tentative contract, which covers 10,000 union members who work in the city’s public university system.
Agreement Protects Health Care Coverage
The agreement preserves the premium-free health-care coverage of members and will include back pay. It also protects the health benefits of CUNY retirees.
In addition, the deal calls for CUNY to increase its annual contribution for union benefits.
The union and management settled after only two bargaining sessions, which rarely happens. But with earlier contract agreements by several municipal and state public employee unions, the parties had a framework to go on.
“We wanted a quick settlement so our members would get their raises as soon as possible and have the security of being protected by a contract through 2021,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido, who led the negotiations with David Paskin, the union’s director of research and negotiations. “Both sides wanted to get this contract done quickly, in contrast to the last round of bargaining.”
Members were upset by the previous contract negotiations, which dragged on for seven years. The city’s previous mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, refused to bargain seriously.
The agreement calls for 2 percent raises at the beginning of February in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
By extending the contract by four months, the city will have the payroll savings to provide crucial funds for the union’s popular prescription drug benefit — which has struggled for years to cope with drug price increases above inflation — and the DC 37 Education Fund.
“The beauty of the collective bargaining process is that it allows us to boost our members’ compensation beyond their annual increases,” said Paskin, the union’s top negotiator. “Combined with wage increases, the extra funds in the contract protect our benefits and provide additional pay, which ensures that members maintain their quality of life.”
Beginning Feb. 1, the union will start considering how to use extra funds in an “Additional Compensation Fund” and an “Equity Fund” — together worth .40 percent of payroll — to reduce pay inequities and address specific needs of job titles.
The contract also includes money for “additions to gross,” which are non-wage increases for benefits like uniform allowances, reimbursements for license fees, night shift differentials, certifications, job level increases and longevities. Longevities are payments above the base rate of pay, based on years of service in a title or occupational group.
The CUNY contract will include new language to help the union address the fallout from the anti-labor U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus ruling, which allows non-members to receive union services without paying dues and aims to weaken the collective bargaining progress.
The agreement incorporates provisions of a new state labor law into the CUNY contract. The contract will permit union representatives to meet with new employees during the workday to explain the benefit of joining DC 37. It preserves the union’s role as the exclusive bargaining agent for municipal employees.
Incorporating the new labor law into the contract will give the union and its members double protection from legal attacks by extreme right interests.
The contract covers DC 37 members in locals 375, 384, 983, 1407, 1597, 1797, 2054, and 2627 who work on the university system’s 24 campuses.
DC 37 managed to preserve the premium-free health-care coverage of members because CUNY has agreed to follow a $1.1 billion health-care savings deal negotiated by the city and Municipal Labor Committee. CIty and union negotiators worked a similar agreement in the last round of bargaining.
The DC 37 Blog is an online publication of District Council 37, AFSCME, which represents 125,000 public service workers inside and outside of New York City.