Caretakers, Supervisors and other employees at the Housing Authority earlier this year ratified a contract that allows them to work four days a week, but some disgruntled members say they got the short end of the stick.
“It’s been a mixed reaction,” said Teamsters Local 237 President Gregory Floyd. “The people who’ve been able to get the schedule they want like the changes. They like the extra time off.”
Key Terms of Deal
The contract, which was ratified Jan. 10, runs through Dec. 29, 2021 and includes a 2-percent raise retroactive to May 30, a 2.25-percent increase on Aug. 30, 2019 and a 3-percent hike on Aug. 30, 2020.
Caretakers and Supervisors of Caretakers will be able to work from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on weekends, the first work-schedule change in 50 years. Previously, schedules were confined to weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Employees in these titles who choose to work during the new extended hours will receive a one-time $1,500 payment.
NYCHA kicked off the alternative work schedules in April at 13 developments in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and expanded to 39 other developments in late June. The plan will be fully rolled out in early 2020, according to the agency.
Although the deal allows members to work 52 fewer days per year, three Supervisors of Caretakers, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of being targeted, were not happy with the arrangement.
“Shifts are not available to all staff, and some are being told ‘there’s no choice, you have to take this shift,” said one Supervisor who works at a Staten Island development.
The contract states that incumbent Caretakers will be placed “into the schedule of their choice, in seniority order, up to the approximate number of Caretakers required for each shift,” and that at least one Supervisor must be scheduled to work when Caretakers are on the job.
But further details about the various schedule options came out in the weeks following the ratification, according to the Supervisors. Eleven schedule choices were available at eight larger developments across the city. Of that number, four options were off-limits for Supervisors of Caretakers, while Resident Building Superintendents were excluded from all but one, according to a document obtained by The Chief.
At five smaller developments, Supervisors were able to choose from four of 10 schedules.
“It feels like a bait-and-switch,” the Staten Island worker said.
A Supervisor working at a Brooklyn development, who did not vote in favor of the agreement, said that several options did not work for him because he worked a second job. He felt as though the union “didn’t tell us ‘This is what’s going to happen.’ ”
‘Didn’t Take Their Time’
Mr. Floyd said that when NYCHA can’t accommodate staff and “rushes to stick people wherever they want, that has caused problems.” But he added that some workers “didn’t take their time to see what could work for them.”
The Supervisors were worried they’ll lose money compared to what they would have earned in overtime. NYCHA staff earn time-and-a-half for hours worked beyond the 40-hour work week. For those choosing alternative work schedules, workers will be paid a 20 percent differential for weekend hours worked within the 40-hour work week.
“The 20 percent differential will make a $6 an hour difference. That’s not going to help me,” said a Supervisor of Caretakers at a Manhattan development.
The Staten Island Supervisor claimed that a union representative told staff at his development that they would be losing money if they chose an alternative schedule. “There are many people living paycheck to paycheck. I don’t come to work to get a day off, I come to work for money,” he said.
Mr. Floyd disputed those claims.
‘Still Lots of Overtime’
“How can you determine how much the average worker makes in overtime?” he added. “I can guarantee there’s still a lot of overtime because Housing is short-staffed. The Federal Monitor even wrote that NYCHA is understaffed,” he said, referring to the report released late last month that claimed the agency was unlikely to meet Federal deadlines to address mold, pests and broken heating equipment in part because of the problem.
NYCHA stated that employees on a four-day schedule could work a fifth day if and when additional staff is needed.
Mr. Floyd believed the changes will still help his members.
“The key part of the schedule change is taking the time to get it right,” he said.
In May, Local 237 Maintenance workers voted down a tentative contract that would have extended their hours as well. Mr. Floyd said that the next step was arbitration.
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