Editor's note: This article was published Thursday night. The city and DC37 reached a tentative agreement Friday morning.
Denise Mieses wore green and black to work Thursday, a “Day of Unity” for her union, District Council 37.
“During the pandemic, we showed up. We kept coming to work,” said Mieses, a substance abuse prevention and intervention specialist at a school in Long Island City, Queens.
DC37, the city’s biggest municipal employees union, represents more than 1,000 titles.
What You Need To Know
- District Council 37 and Adams administration negotiators met at the bargaining table Thursday
- A citywide contract for DC37 would set the pattern for other unions, determining what pay raises they get
- Adams has an austere approach to the city budget, anticipating an economic downturn
Its members need a new contract. Their last one expired in 2021 and they haven’t had a raise since 2019.
“In the same way that students’ lives overlap into their schoolwork, our personal lives and the stressors of not having financial security can overlap into the school building,” Mieses said of members’ sacrifices.
Across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook on Thursday, there were displays of solidarity from DC37 members, other city employees and some in the City Council.
The visibility served as a reminder that 94% of the city’s contracts with unions are expired.
DC37 and Mayor Eric Adams’ negotiators had a bargaining session Thursday, their fourth since September.
DC37’s citywide contract will very likely be the first one settled, affecting 80,000 workers there and setting the pattern on raises for other unions.
“We’re here, this is what we need, and this is what we’re asking for,” Mieses said of her message to the Adams administration. “Again, we’re not asking for anything ridiculous or outlandish.”
Representatives for both Adams and DC37 president Henry Garrido told NY1 they won’t negotiate in the press.
In anticipation of an economic downturn, the city has set aside enough for 1.25% raises across the board, far less than the rate of inflation.
“As long as inflation stays pretty high, first of all, that has some consequences for the city budget, but it also makes workers that more insistent upon getting a contract that has probably a higher wage level,” said George Sweeting, acting director of the New York City Independent Budget Office.
Police Benevolent Association members have been working under an expired contract since 2017.
Along with DC37, rank-and-file police officers could be among the first to settle their contract with Adams, himself a former cop.
And like DC37, the PBA has taken out ads to rally public support.
The police union is in state-supervised arbitration with the city.
“Far too many of our members have left for better pay and better quality-of-life in other policing jobs. The NYPD’s ongoing staffing emergency is impacting public safety for all New Yorkers,” Pat Lynch, PBA president, said in a statement.
The United Federation of Teachers’ contract expired last September.
Many members wore green and black on Thursday to support their DC37 colleagues.
“We’re a labor movement in New York City,” said Brad Alter, a member representative with UFT. “This is a union town.”
Adams’ budget outlook is austere and cautious amid obligations like housing asylum seekers, but UFT member representative Trisha Arnold said of his proposed 1.25% wage hike, “It’s really important that as a municipal worker, we all stand together and say, ‘That’s not enough.’”