New York City’s public employees are fighting off a change by Mayor Michael Bloomberg that would rearrange what’s been the norm for over 100 years.
Earlier this month, a number of unions representing city workers in prevailing rate titles, led by District Council 37 (DC37), were granted a temporary restraining order by New York State Supreme Court Justice Manual J. Mendez. Both the union and the city will be back in court on June 13 for arguments.
The issue centers around the mayor’s attempt to bypass the comptroller’s role of setting the salaries for workers who are not police officers. These workers are represented by DC37 and include plumbers, maintenance workers and carpenters.
In early April, Bloomberg unilaterally imposed new salary ranges for prevailing rate titles for 10,000 municipal trade workers and implemented new time and leave regulations (i.e., sick leave, annual leave and holidays) for said titles. Around the same time, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) reclassified the prevailing rate titles in an attempt to take away protections.
The unions filed a lawsuit as a result and alleged that Bloomberg had violated Civil Service Law Section 20, which requires three days public notice, a hearing and State Civil Service Commission approval of all DCAS rule modifications and reclassifications.
According to the unions, none of those things took place. There are also alleged violations of Section 220 of the Labor Law, including abrogating the union’s collective bargaining agreements.
The mayor’s office did not respond to AmNews requests for comment.
“This is a morally reprehensible assault on the wages and benefits of the city’s blue-collar workers–laborers, sewage treatment workers, highway repairers, locksmiths, plumbers, electricians and more–men and women who use their smarts, their skills and their strength to do the hardest, dirtiest jobs that help make this city run,” said DC37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts. “This union and our labor union brothers and sisters are going to fight back against this attack on blue-collar workers’ Section 220 rights.”
As a result of the temporary restraining order, the city can’t reclassify titles, alter wages or pay new hires less than the current collective bargaining agreements until a hearing and determination take place.