ONE FINAL HURDLE: City Correction Officers are voting for the second time on a new wage contract, with the reworked version placed greater emphasis on speeding implementation of a second-year raise and a large infusion of money into the fund that covers prescription drugs than the deal that was rejected in late March.


Correction Officers' Benevolent Association delegates have voted 59-11 to recommend ratification of a re-worked three-year wage contract, the union announced May 18, and ballots have been sent to members that must be returned postmarked May 29 or sooner. They will be tallied by the union's election committee.

An earlier pact had been rejected by the rank and file in late March. After visiting members working in city jails to get their input on what they'd like to see changed without adding to the city's costs, COBA President Elias Husamudeen made several tweaks aimed at getting raises and improved prescription-drug benefits to them sooner.

Upgrades and Trade-Offs

The original terms would have provided a 2.25-percent wage increase retroactive to March 1, 2019, a 2.5-percent raise effective June 1, 2020, and a 3-percent pay hike as of June 1, 2021. Under the re-worked accord, the second-year raise would be retroactive to March 1 of this year, meaning some additional back pay for union members if the deal was approved. As one of the trade-offs in the deal, COBA gave up a $104-per-member annuity-fund increase that was in the rejected package.

Under the initial deal, COBA was supposed to get an additional $5 million in city contributions to its welfare fund—$3 million of it as of Feb. 1 of this year and the remainder at the end of the contract Feb. 28, 2022. By forsaking $3 million the city would have contributed to create an education fund as part of the earlier pact, Mr. Husamudeen was able to get $3.45 million added to the welfare fund increase, which would now be $6 million retroactive to Feb. 1 and another $2.45 million on the final day of the pact.

Explaining the shifts, Mr. Husamudeen said earlier this month that the impact of the coronavirus, not just from a health standpoint but with its impact on the job status of the spouses of some members, influenced the changes. Some officers are currently the sole breadwinners in their households, he said, and prescription-drug costs were expected to rise by 18 percent, meaning that speeding the payment of the second-year raise and upgrading funding for prescription drugs took priority over their looking to upgrade their educations or add to their annuity funds.

While several unions representing uniformed officers in higher ranks have ratified contracts reached under a coalition deal last December, no uniformed deals covering entry-level workers have been approved. The Uniformed Sanitationmen's Association is scheduled to have ballots tallied May 28 on a contract negotiated separately from the other uniformed unions but containing the same 7.95-percent compounded raises.  

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