This spring many NYC municipal union leaders were upset with the United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew for his weak contract with the city. Yesterday District Council 37 leaders agreed to a contract with New York City that repeats many of those weaknesses. Principal among those weaknesses is a 10.52 wage increase spread over the seven years and four months, increases that probably will not keep pace with inflation. Additionally, payments postponed to the future mean monies that of course cannot earn interest during that delay.
The agreement at this stage is tentative and would need rank and file approval as a few bargaining units have not yet signed off on it. It covers approximately 100,000 workers. DC 37 members include hospital staff, social service workers, child care workers, maintenance workers and others. Like the UFT contract, it includes a con device, the "signing bonus" of $1,000. For DC 37 who earn significantly less than UFT members this will be a significant enticement.
Cryptically, news coverage of the tentative pact includes mention of "changes to their medical benefits." New York City teachers are already wincing with anticipation of what givebacks they face with the contract. As NY1 notes, it is not yet indicated how the $795 million in givebacks (which the media euphemistically call "savings") due to be implemented by 2019 will be accomplished.
Still remaining to be settled with the city are several uniformed worker unions, such as police, firefighter and sanitation workers. Let's hope that they have stronger spines than the UFT and do not follow on the UFT's precedence as DC 37 did and do not settle for another sucker's contract. One can presume that Mayor de Blasio expects similar giveback contracts from other unions. As reported on NY1, he said, "Every union has its own reality, but I'm confident we're going to keep up a lot of momentum."
For more, read Gloria Pazmino and Sally Goldenberg's "De Blasio Announces Tentative Contract with D.C. 37," and Grace Rauh from NY1, "City Reaches Tentative Deal With DC 37 Labor Union."
As the ICEUFT blog notes, this contract is not as bad as the UFT contract. It does not mention postponed payment of backpay, otherwise called retroactive, retro or arrears payments. The UFT contract puts these payments off until 2020. And those resigning between now and then forfeit repayment of that back pay.