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NY Politics
Mayor Sets Labor Deals With Uniformed Workers in 8 Unions
From the Wall Street Journal of Wed, 10 Dec 2014 01:25:06 EST
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks Tuesday at a news conference where a contract agreement with uniformed workers was announced.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks Tuesday at a news conference where a contract agreement with uniformed workers was announced. Reuters

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio reached labor agreements with about 12,000 uniformed workers Tuesday, furthering his push for deals with the city’s unions and putting new pressure on the city’s biggest police union.

If the accords are ratified by union members, 71% of the city’s workers will have a contract, while about 100,000 workers still don’t have one, according to the city. All contracts were expired when Mayor Michael Bloomberg left office.

Terms of the deal are similar to previous ones, with one exception: Mr. de Blasio gave the uniformed workers an additional 1% wage increase over the first year because of their challenging jobs, he said. The workers will receive an 11% raise over the seven-year contracts.

The agreements cover eight unions representing supervisors in police, fire, sanitation and corrections and will cost the city about $413.7 million, or $145 million more through 2018 than previously expected. Workers in some of the unions received contracts that stretch back to 2011.

“We had to start from scratch,” said Mr. de Blasio. He added that conversations with unions didn’t feature the “heated rhetoric we saw for years.”

A spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg declined to comment. Some have criticized Mr. de Blasio for agreeing to contracts that provide retroactive pay, saying the city’s financial situation could deteriorate. They noted Mr. Bloomberg left the city in solid financial footing—with billions of dollars in reserves—and that gave the new mayor room to negotiate.

Mr. De Blasio faces a big challenge with the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the largest police union. The two sides were scheduled to begin binding arbitration in coming weeks.

“Compared to our fellow police officers we are the lowest paid,” PBA President Patrick Lynch said Tuesday.

Police union leaders have said the mayor has undermined police with his tone in discussing the grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer involved in the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island. They have also been critical of his embrace of a federal monitor for the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk tactics.

Christina Greer, a political scientist at Fordham University, said the mayor aligning himself with unions made sense, given his progressive campaign in which he vowed to help the lower and middle class.

“What I think this administration is trying to say, without fully saying it, is the Bloomberg administration left them holding the bag,” Ms. Greer said. “The issue is that the city is limited on funds, he hasn’t been in office in a year and there are so many unions without a proper contract.”

Nicole Gelinas, a fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute, said the new agreements show that Mr. de Blasio “is still happy to deploy his fiscal time machine to pay for raises for years when the city had massive operating deficits…when private-sector workers were going without raises and cutting back.”

—Keiko Morris
contributed to this article.

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