On February 27th, the previously tentative agreement between the City and the PBA was ratified. This is the first time in 5 years that the PBA has been under a union contract. It gives the current NYPD officers a total 11.25% raise over the life of the contract, but also ultimately lowers the pay for future officers, according to an article posted on The Chief Leader. The raise that current cops get will cause future cops to take longer to get to the maximum salary. The article notes that “The pact also features a significantly improved disability benefit for cops hired after 2009 and gives all officers the right to cash in all unused leave days once they exit the NYPD. It also implements the city’s body-camera program, which will expand to affect 5,000 patrol officers by July 2018 and require all those on patrol to wear and operate them by the end of the following year.” According to the New York Daily News, ¾ disability pensions will be made available to new PBA members with as low as 1% employee contribution. This is a success for Mayor de Blasio, who has recently had a rocky relationship with the NYPD. The agreement was reached February 27th with an overwhelming amount of union members participating in the vote and just 2% of members voting against the contract. The agreement also requires all officers to be fitted with body cameras by 2019.
The contract between the MTA and TWU Local 100 was formally ratified February 15th by the union’s rank-and-file members. The contract was approved by union members by a 70-30 margin according to the TWU Local 100 website. When the contract was still in the voting process, the union’s Executive Board voted 37-6 in favor of the agreement. Union members who are employed by MTA-NYCT, MTA Bus, and MTA-MABSTOA are covered under the 28-month deal. Tentatively agreed upon before the retirement of former MTA CEO and Chairman Tom Prendergast, the deal was reached just hours after its expiration in January.
Some of the perks according to sources are:
- 2.5% raise retroactive to January 15th, a year after the expiration of the former contract, culminating in a 5% raise over the life of the contract.
- $500 bonus for the final two months of the contract.
- Commuter rail passes for employees who live in the city as well as improved shoes that can stand up to their work environment.
- Construction improvements for workplace facilities.
- “..fully protects their health coverage and wins important medical benefit gains without the concessions that are enshrined in city and state public sector patterns. It secures an unprecedented “me too” wage guarantee with the LIRR unions, which have the right to strike and are governed by federal law and wage patterns set by the national freight and commuter railroad sectors.”, as quoted by TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen on the Union’s website.
The Union’s President also further assured members by stating in the same article, “The contract does not lock us into a long-term commitment, which provides an important hedge against any unforeseen spike in inflation. For the first time, this contract has secured an agreement from the MTA to hire and utilize in house forces to retrofit the older parts of the transit infrastructure to provide clean, comfortable and safe crew areas for our sisters in transit.” This is referring to the reported 100 or more members that will be added to the construction crew that will be improving the work facilities. Please read the articles below for more information.
At midnight on January 15th, the contract between MTA and TWU Local 100 expired. After several rocky weeks of negotiations, the MTA and TWU Local 100 found common ground on Monday, January 16th. Although still in the process of ratification, the union’s Executive Board voted 37-6 in support of the agreement according to the TWU Local 100 website. The union heads have expressly stated their support for the tentative contract. An article in The Chief Leader states that once the union members get the contract, the full and final vote on the acceptance or denial of the agreements will take about two weeks.
This comes in the wake of a difficult year for the MTA and TWU Local 100. In November, one employee was critically injured and another was killed on the same day while setting up warning lights for overnight construction. This event was undoubtedly at the forefront of the issues addressed during negotiations. A common theme was that union members did not feel properly compensated for the daily risks they take and possible hazards they are subjected to while operating public transit. The contract’s new guidelines were made to create safer environment for all workers. Several accomplishments of the contract were highlighted on the TWU Local 100 website. Some of them were the 5% raise rate over the life of the contract, more comfortable uniforms, and lengthened healthcare coverage for workers’ dependents. There are also some benefits specifically for women, considering the ever-growing rate of women in this field. Some of these include improved locker rooms and changing facilities as well as private, comfortable spaces for new mothers to pump breast milk. On top of the supported negotiations, another win was that the tentative agreement has been made before the current MTA President, Thomas Prendergast, is set to retire.
However, members did have their criticisms about certain issues-specifically in relation to the raise and the pensionable bonus at the end of the now-tentative contract. Currently on the table for member approval are two 2.5 % raises and a $500 pensionable bonus once the contract expires. “A survey of several Local 100 members who were on the job last week, and did not want their names used, ranged from an upbeat “I can work with it” to a disapproving “I would have rather had a third 2.5 percent in the third step rather than the $500 in the payout” critique.”, as quoted from The Chief Leader.
Some time ago, an article titled Timeline of Tug of War for Graduate Student Unions was posted. This past Friday, the rope was pulled a littler harder in the students direction. Graduate students at Columbia University voted 1,602 to 623 in favor of the move to form a union. This union applies to graduate students who work as teachers or research assistants. Their right to be considered employees has been federally protected since late August, and this development now gives their bark a bit more bite. The United Automobile Workers will be representing close to 4,000 of Columbia’s students. This is in response to a petition signed by the private university’s students last summer and ends the back-and-forth history of graduate student unions. Columbia University has been spearheading this fight since August of this year, when their petition helped overturn a 2004 decision by the National Labor Relations Board stating that graduate students could not be granted the power to unionize. “The ruling held that the assistants could not be considered employees because they “are primarily students and have a primarily educational, not economic, relationship with their university.”, in an article posted on nytimes.com the week after the ruling was officially overturned. The United Automobile Workers will also be representing close to 1,3000 of N.Y.U. graduate students, who accepted their students vote to unionize in 2013. N.Y.U. students move to join the U.A.W comes just three days after Columbia students won their vote. Aside from these two private schools, the U.A.W. represents roughly 30,000 public university research assistants and teachers throughout certain states. The caveat is that it is public, not private, institutions that can choose to let their student workers unionize. Graduate students who work for their private university are now privilege to all the rights afforded by a union! There is no word yet as to when the contract negotiations will start, but the fact that they are starting is what private institutions have been pushing toward for 12 years. Congratulations, Columbia!
Please see the links below for more information.