The de Blasio administration has reached terms on a new contract with Teamsters Local 237 covering 1,350 Maintenance Workers—roughly 1,000 of them at the Housing Authority, with the remainder scattered among various mayoral agencies—that fits the basic city contract pattern but also includes extended hours for HA staff in return for a four-day workweek and additional compensation.
If ratified by the union’s rank and file, it would run slightly over four years—retroactive to Dec. 17, 2017 and expiring Jan. 1, 2022—with raises of 2 percent retroactive to Jan. 17, 2018, 2.25 percent retroactive to last Dec. 7, and 3 percent effective March 17, 2020.
How Hourly Rates Rise
As of Oct. 17, the basic hourly rate for both new employees and those in their second year will be $29.11, and third-year employees would be at $30.25. The rates for those with at least a year on the job would be retroactive to last Dec. 17, when the second of the three raises would have kicked in.
Once the final raise would become effective next March 17, those with less than two years on the job would have their hourly pay rise to $29.98; those with more than two years would be getting $31.16 an hour.
In lieu of a raise during the fourth year of the deal, Local 237 President Greg Floyd opted to fund additional benefits in other areas, including a boost in members’ annuity payments and an increase in night-shift differential. He also “paid” to eliminate the first-year salary step so that new employees would jump to the second-year basic rate as of Oct. 17 after starting at $28.76 an hour.
“It was important for recruiting qualified Maintenance Workers and keeping qualified Maintenance Workers,” he said in an April 9 phone interview. “NYCHA is looking to hire 56 new Maintenance Workers. They needed them yesterday,” although he said it was likely the agency would wait until the contract was ratified, which could be before the end of the month, before reaching out.
Similar to Caretaker Deal
The extended-hours provision for HA workers is similar to what the union agreed to last December for those in the Housing Caretaker title. Those who choose it will work four 10-hour tours, including regularly scheduled shifts on Saturdays and, to a lesser degree, Sundays. There will actually be a significant reduction in those assigned to Sunday work—while work crews will double on Saturday—based on what Labor Commissioner Renee Campion said was “feedback from residents” that they preferred maintenance work in their apartments generally not be done on Sundays.
Currently, the HA has 140 Maintenance Workers assigned to tours on both Saturday and Sunday. If the deal is ratified, the authority will be able to deploy 280 workers in the title on Saturdays while cutting back its Sunday complement to just 40 employees. While it had been paying for Sunday work at time-and-a-half, it will now be paid at straight time.
Now, Mr. Floyd said, Sunday work will be “by assignment, so with seniority they can make the picks” if employees want to have Sunday as part of their work schedules. A statement from Mayor de Blasio’s Press Office said that employees who opted for the four-day schedules could have a Sunday replacing their Thursday work shifts every three weeks, or work every other Saturday under daily tours that would run from either 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. or 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Mayor said in the statement that because of the deal, the 400,000 NYCHA residents would obtain “basic repairs faster and more frequently." Interim NYCHA Chair Kathryn Garcia added, “This agreement highlights how labor-management cooperation can be a win for our employees and a win for our residents.”
Improves OT Eligibility
As part of the deal, employees would qualify for time-and-a-half for overtime once they had marked 40 scheduled hours. Currently, the overtime pay kicks in only once an employee has actually worked 40 hours in a week, meaning that someone who missed a shift for reasons including illness or a city holiday does not qualify for time-and-a-half unless the days they actually worked included more than eight hours extra beyond their regular schedules.
That was a particularly important gain for his members, Mr. Floyd said. So was a component of the deal that will make all the Maintenance Workers it covers eligible for promotions to glazier, carpentry and plumbing jobs, among other trades, based on work they have already done in those areas. Details as to how much time they need to qualify for those promotions, he said, will have to be worked out with the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.
The extended work-days and sharp increase in Saturday staffing among HA Maintenance Workers were prompted by the same imperative that produced similar changes for Housing Caretakers late last year, Ms. Campion indicated: increase the availability of workers at times when tenants were most likely to be home to permit them into their apartments for necessary work.
She noted that the new schedules for the Caretakers did not begin until the first week in April.
$1,500 ‘4-Day’ Bonus
As was the case under the contract covering the Caretakers, there will be a one-time $1,500 bonus for Maintenance Workers who agree to work the more-flexible schedules.
The increases in both annuity payments and night-shift differential will take effect Oct. 17 of this year, as will the new second-year basic salary rate. The annuity-fund payment at that point will be increased by 41 cents a day, to $6.19, for those working traditional five-day weeks; those working four 10-hour shifts will get a proportionate increase that will bring their daily annuity payments to $7.74.
Night-shift differential will go from an extra $3.94 per shift to $5. The hours under which the differential would be paid have shifted: the hours from 4 p.m. to 6 a.m. are currently covered, but if the pact is ratified, as of Oct. 17 it will be paid starting at 8 p.m. and ending at 8 a.m. The changes in both annuity payments and night-differential rates apply to Maintenance Workers in mayoral agencies as well as those at the HA.
This was the first deal negotiated by Ms. Campion since succeeding Robert W. Linn as Labor Commissioner in mid-February. It contained an extra kick beyond that milestone, she said, because it came with Mr. Floyd, whom she has dealt with since she came to the Office of Labor Relations in 2002 as an Assistant Labor Commissioner and he was second-in-command to then-Local 237 President Carl Haynes.
“It’s particularly satisfying after all those years negotiating with him,” she said. “And to now be the Labor Commissioner signing the agreement, that’s a good feeling.”
Mr. Floyd said that reaching the Caretaker deal last December made it easier to work out the details for the Maintenance Worker pact because “Renee understood what needed to be done.” But he also agreed that the rapport the two of them had developed over the years had been helpful.
Although it was the first time he was dealing with her as the head of OLR, he explained, “There was a familiar working relationship. [Certain] individuals, when they tell you something, you know that’s how it’s gonna be.”
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