Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today he had reached a new contract deal with the Teamsters local representing more than half of the New York City Housing Authority’s workforce—and indicated that the union would cooperate in helping the financially strapped authority cut costs by kicking in more for health care and reviewing new opportunities to slash public expenses.
Mr. de Blasio and Gregory Floyd, president of Teamsters Local 237, announced a preliminary deal—pending a union vote—that would grant 5,500 workers their first new contract since 2008 and 10 percent in retroactive and prospective raise over the next seven and a half years. The deal also calls for the union’s members to pay an additional $89.7 million into their health care fund and to form a “joint Labor-Management Committee” that will look into other potential money-saving measures, including elimination of outside contracting for some work.
“Local 237 members are critical to maintaining and strengthening the public housing that over 400,000 New Yorkers call home,” Mr. de Blasio said in a statement. “This agreement means that these NYCHA employees will get the fair wages they deserve, in a way that protects New York City taxpayers.”
Mr. Floyd contributed a somewhat less enthusiastic, though factually accurate, endorsement to the public statement.
“This contract conforms to the pattern of all other negotiations successfully completed during the de Blasio administration,” Mr. Floyd said.
The arrangement largely mirrors the pattern the de Blasio administration set for most city employees with the contracts it negotiated with the United Federation of Teachers a year ago, and with DC37—which represents the workers in NYCHA community centers, among many other public employees—last July. The workers will receive a retroactive one percent raise for the years they went without a contract between 2012 and 2014, a one-and-a-half percent raise for 2015, a two-and-a-half percent raise for 2016 and a three percent increase for 2017.
The Labor-Management committee, which Mr. de Blasio’s office said would eventually include all unions representing NYCHA’s 10,000-plus-strong work force, is aimed at examining ways of increasing efficiency at the problem-plagued authority. One particular proposal of note is to “examine insourcing,” or the elimination of outside contracts.
“The committee will work to increase available funds to build and maintain strong, vibrant public housing infrastructure; improve the cost-effectiveness, efficiency, and flexibility of operations; examine insourcing where there are savings or productivity opportunities; and improve the delivery of services and resident experience,” Mr. de Blasio’s office announced.
NYCHA Chairwoman Shola Olatoye hailed the committee’s efficiency studies as one way to compensate for the loss of substantial state and federal funds for public over the past two decades.
“The Labor-Management Committee will hopefully bring governmental and labor leaders to the table to create real job sustainability and improve our day-to-day operations and quality of life to more than 400,000 New Yorkers. I look forward to working with Mayor de Blasio, labor leaders and others continue to ensure NYCHA provides safe, clean, and connected communities for residents,” Ms. Olatoye said.
The proposal even won plaudits from Bronx Councilman Ritchie Torres, chairman of the Committee on Public Housing, who recently has been an outspoken critic of the administration’s policies with NYCHA’s unionized workforce.
“I think it’s a recognition that NYCHA should see labor as a partner in saving public housing,” he said, noting that outsourcing to private contractors has historically been used to “undermine” municipal labor.
Mr. de Blasio noted that, when this latest agreement becomes final, 78 percent of all city employees will have a contract. All the city unions had expired contracts when Mr. de Blasio took office in 2014.
Updated to include comment from Mr. Torres.