A new bill signed into law by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio looks to speed up the collective bargaining process with city service contractors.
Intro. 2252. will require city human services contractors to come to “labor peace” agreements within 90 days of amending and/or receiving a city contact. According to the language of the bill “Human service contracts include but are not limited to day care, foster care, home care, health or medical services, housing and shelter assistance, preventive services, youth services, the operation of senior centers, employment training and assistance, vocational and educational programs, legal services and recreation programs.”
This gives workers the chance to organize without employee interference. Henry Garrido, Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME, praised the Intro. 2252, which could change how labor unions organize and collectively bargain with non-profit and private organizations under contract with the city.
“Workers in the non-profit social and human services sectors have been in crisis,” stated Garrido, who’s union represents 20,000 workers in nonprofit organizations. “They face dangerous working conditions, rising healthcare costs, low pay and extremely high turnover. They have been asking for the ability to organize without fear, and it has finally been granted.”
Introduced by Council Speaker Corey Johnson in early 2021, Intro. 2252, the bill also “exempts building service employees and subcontractors whose principal purpose is to provide supplies, or administrative services, technical support or other similar services that do not directly relate to the performance of human services.”
“No City dollars should ever be paid out to employers who engage in union-busting and that’s exactly what this new law will help ensure,” stated Johnson.
“New York City puts working people first,” added de Blasio in a statement. “These two pieces of legislation are critical, from protecting domestic workers to ensuring New York City remains a union town.”
The recent debate over the bill between the city and the Human Services Council threw a wrench into things. The HSC represents almost 170 nonprofits and believes that non-profits who are already struggling financially could take an even bigger hit with the new way of doing things.
Earlier this month Human Services Council Acting Director Michelle Jackson told the online publication The City, “This is just really ill thought out and there’s a complete lack of partnership with the [nonprofit] sector on how to do this.”
But those on the workers’ side see things differently.
“To borrow an adage: our working conditions are our clients’ healing conditions,” stated Natasha Pasternack, family counseling and case analyst at Kings County Supreme Court, Civil Term. “The greater the say we have at work, the better ‘the work’ is going to be. This is a huge step toward a more equitable city. Taking care of the New Yorkers who take care of New Yorkers is a social justice issue.”
Nickey-Anna Lerice, a teacher at a Head Start program in Brooklyn, said she consistently watched management rob and under pay their employees who work for Head Start while overworking them during the COVID-19 pandemic and putting their health in danger. She hopes Intro. 2252 will stop retaliations whenever employees try to organize.
“With the pasage of the Labor Peace Bill, employees finally have protection to have their voices heard without retaliation from management,” stated Lerice