Posts Tagged 'DC37'

DC37 Makes Sub-Inflation Pattern Official

As expected, DC37 has voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new contract. This is important news for teachers, because the contract is pattern-setting. In other words, the economic details will also apply to the UFT. I hope the contract turns out to be a fair one that improves working conditions for our fellow unionists. But, we already know the economic details aren’t good.

The numbers come down to about 3% in annual wage increases, along with a $3,000 signing bonus. In the end, that will come to about 16.21% over 5.5 years. That might sound like a big number, but it’s less than inflation. It’s also less of a pay increase than what workers are getting on average across the United States – and most U.S. workers aren’t in labor unions. For a unionized comparison, in Los Angeles, where public sector workers have and exercise the right to strike, SEIU 99 just negotiated 30% raises. In New York, where labor leaders argue against even having the right to strike, DC37 just agreed to about half that.

Still, DC37 had access to the numbers and still voted in the contract. We don’t know the ins and outs of their negotiations and what led them to settle for less. We do know that DC37’s membership was strongly encouraged by their union leadership to take the deal. We also know that, other than the pertinent financials, DC37 members did not have much information about their contract. They didn’t receive a full copy with their ballots. All they had was this one pager. And, while I hope the document was accurate, we’ve also seen hidden appendixes get voted in before.

Speaking of hidden appendixes, we also know that healthcare is being negotiated in parallel to our contracts. So, we aren’t just looking at a disappointing pattern. We’re also facing the possibility of being switched off our health plans for something cheaper. And unless we are successful with our petition, we won’t even have a say in that decision. Some DC37 dissidents tried to urge a no vote based on healthcare uncertainty alone. However, DC37’s progressive opposition is smaller than the UFT’s, and their union is much larger and more difficult to organize without the advantage of leadership’s institutional resources.

There are still loose ends to uncover. Soon enough, we’ll learn the specifics of in-service healthcare changes. With time, the full DC37 contract will also become available for analysis, and we’ll have more detailed information about what their deal means for us. Once we know more, we’ll publish more. In the meantime, I hope DC37 maximized the improvements they were seeking.


DC37 Sets Pattern Below Mostly Non-Unionized U.S. Average

It’s the last day of school before a much needed vacation, so just a few words on the terrible pattern set by the DC-37 contract. I’ll write something more in depth later.

A 3% wage increase is absolutely horrendous. It’s far below inflation, which is running into the double digits. It’s literally a pay cut. 3% is also below the national average. Most of the country isn’t represented by unions. So unionized New York City municipal unions are getting crappier raise increases than people who are working at-will. That’s terrible. And things will only get worse if we also end up paying for premiums, as Mulgrew has already prepped us to accept. 3% could easily become -3%.

Adams took advantage of DC37. DC37 is a large and diverse union, but most of its members make offensively low salaries. The union’s website stresses the reliance of its membership on public assistance programs to make ends meet. A 3% wage increase with a $3,000 signing bonus would go a long way for people who are already making non-living wages during a time of record inflation. Knowing full well that DC37 members would be the most in need of an immediate raise, Adams weaponized the increased cost of living (which he himself had a hand in driving up) to get the City’s lowest paid workers to agree to a wage increase that would never be accepted by other unions. And now everyone is stuck with that rate.

This is an absolute abuse of pattern bargaining. Pattern bargaining is supposed be a means of efficiently organizing fair wage increases for like-unions. Larger or more powerful unions negotiate first, ensuring that smaller and less powerful unions get the same deal. Everyone wins because less negotiating energy gets spent on figuring out financials, leaving more room to discuss workplace improvements and other non-economic factors. Here, in an absurd reversal, the City exploited the union with the most disadvantaged members so that it could force an unfair deal onto everyone else.

The blame doesn’t just go to the City. For MLC labor leaders, who make hefty compensation packages and don’t have to live with the consequences of sub-inflation wages, this is win-win. DC37 leadership gets to quickly get out wage increases to its membership, who is after all willing to take the deal. Then, labor leaders of unions whose membership would not take the deal get to sit back and blame DC37 for the crappy wages. They can now say ‘sorry, all we can negotiate now is non-economic factors.’ Hiding behind the pattern system and the Taylor Law, union leaders and bureaucrats can rest at ease, spending the rest of their time convincing membership why their hands are tied. This is a perfect example of what I meant when I said that “[UFT Leadership] will take on the task, not of organizing us to fight, but of disorganizing overworked members into acquiescence.”

But, Mulgrew isn’t off the hook. I’ll ask question number one: if we are conceding to the pattern–and recent communications seem to suggest that we are–are we also conceding to the work day that no longer makes sense under said pattern? About 20 years ago, we agreed to work extra time (now called PD Mondays and OPW/PO Tuesdays) in exchange for raises in excess of other unions. But now, we are likely to have to take a pay cut. In my view, if we aren’t getting the raises we deserve, that means it’s time to sunset extra time. To be frank, we now need that time to find extra jobs to afford living in this city.

Unions can and must achieve more than non-unionized America. The nurses just proved this. Their leadership didn’t hide behind patterns or find reasons not to organize. They struck and now will get 19% over 3 years. DC37 and the rest of us will be getting 16.21 over 5.5. See the difference? DC37 deserves far more than a 3% increase, as do the workers represented by other municipal unions. We can and must push for better, Taylor Law or not.

That’s all for now. I look forward to analyzing the situation more and publishing something longer in the coming weeks. Hopefully DC37 members vote ‘no,’ but we’ll see. It’s tough when your union recommends you do.

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April 2023