Union and mayor agree on contract for 121,000 NYC workers

NEW YORK (PAI) — After working for more than four years under an expired contract, New York City’s largest municipal union, AFSCME District Council 37, reached a new 7-year 4-month contract covering 121,000 workers, the council’s executive director and the city’s new mayor announced.

The DC37 delegate assembly ratified the pact on July 8. It now goes to the union’s members, with mail ballots due by Aug. 5. Executive Director Lillian Roberts said workers would get a 10.41 percent wage hike, a $1,000 signing bonus and back pay, among other gains, if they OK the pact. The first part of the hike would be a 4.58 percent raise on Sept. 1.

The DC37 pact, which covers workers at 53 locals, is important as a potential pacesetter for other unions in the Big Apple. When current, progressive and union-backed New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) took office on Jan. 1, he made reaching contracts with the city’s unions a top priority. That’s a sharp change in the city administration’s attitude.

De Blasio’s predecessor, multibillionaire Republican-turned-independent Michael Bloomberg, a corporate executive, had let contracts lapse, imposed extensive – and expensive – contracting out of city work and generally antagonized city unions and workers.

“We achieved sound, livable wage increases for our members and protected our benefits, with no changes in our health care coverage and pension plans,” said Roberts, who chaired DC37’s bargaining committee.

“We bargained with the de Blasio administration to secure the best possible deal for our members,” she added. Roberts called the new contract “a fair deal for our members in a tough economic climate,” adding “we commend the mayor for treating us with respect throughout this process.”

The new DC37 contract is retroactive to March 2010 and runs through July 2, 2017. Besides the raises, the pact creates a joint recruitment and promotion committee to establish ways to increase job opportunities and promotions for women and minorities. They’re a majority of city workers, but under-represented in upper echelons.

And instead of Bloomberg’s contracting-out schemes, the union and the city established a gain-sharing plan to identify savings in the city’s budget. Savings would then be shared between the de Blasio administration and the workers.

“Our members will be able to identify ways to do the job better and cheaper and to share in the savings,” Roberts said. “We see this as empowering our members and creating a more collaborative and productive relationship with the city. It’s a win-win for all parties.”

De Blasio’s comment on the contract? “It’s about time,” the mayor said.

Photo: DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts, accompanied by union leadership, joins Mayor Bill de Blasio at City Hall press conference announcing proposed economic agreement July 2, 2014. District 37 Facebook page.



Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but a holy terror when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners. El galardonado periodista Mark Gruenberg es el director de la oficina de People's World en Washington, D.C. También es editor del servicio de noticias sindicales Press Associates Inc. (PAI).