By David Brand @D4V1DBR4ND
Queens Daily Eagle
The Bill de Blasio Administration reached a tentative agreement with the city’s largest municipal employees union just a day before the Supreme Court issued a crushing setback to organized labor.
The 44-month, $1 billion agreement between the City and District Council 37 will increase union members’ pay by 7.4% in one-year increments between the retroactive date of Sept 26, 2017 and May 25, 2021. DC37 represents nearly 100,000 workers in an array of sectors, including school lunchroom staff, city parks workers and EMS technicians.
The wage increases, including a 2% raise this year, will be offset by healthcare savings contained in a deal with the Municipal Labor Committee, which works with various municipal employee unions, the City said in a statement. The deal also increases the city’s contributions to the union’s Education Fund and gradually increases paid family leave to 12 weeks by 2021.
During a press conference at City Hall Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the agreement “respects our workforce and their needs while also recognizing the needs of our taxpayers, the need for fiscal stability.”
At a time when lawmakers and courthouses across the country, have taken drastic steps to erode organized labor, DC37 Executive Director Henry Garrido said the agreement demonstrates what unions can accomplish for their workers.
“This agreement is a clear example of the importance of collective bargaining and what can be achieved when the employer and employees negotiate in good faith,” said District Council 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido. “You can tackle big problems when you approach workers with respect.”
Local leaders and City Council Members hailed the agreement, which will not go into effect until it is ratified by DC 37 members.
“You can’t talk about ‘everyday heroes’ without talking about DC37,” said Council Member Justin Brannan from Brooklyn. These are the men and women who keep the greatest city in the world running smooth, very often behind the scenes
In a 5-4 vote Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that government workers who opt out of joining unions cannot be required to help pay for collective bargaining. Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito said forcing non-union members to subsidize union activity violated their First Amendment rights.
“We conclude that this arrangement violates the free speech rights of non-members by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern,” Alito wrote.
The ruling likely means that unions will lose millions of dollars in dues from individuals who elect not to join.
In response, unions around the city issued statements rallying their supporters and calling on lawmakers to protect organized labor.
“We are the labor movement, and we know the strength that lies in our unity,” said George Gresham, president of the 1199SEIU, which represents tens of thousands of New York City healthcare workers. “So do those seeking to tear apart the worker protections that have transformed our workforce for the better.”
Several Queens leaders were also quick to criticize the Supreme Court’s decision and voice their support unions.
“New York City is a union town,” said District 22 Council Member Costa Constantinides. “America was built on the back of their labor.”
Photo credit: AP