Mayor Eric Adams' tentative labor deal puts remote work on the table for municipal employees

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Friday, February 17, 2023
Adams' labor deal puts remote work on the table for municipal workers
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The mayor's first big labor deal since taking office puts remote work on the table for the other upcoming municipal worker contracts. Mike Marza has more on the deal.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Mayor Eric Adams and the city's largest municipal employees union have reached a tentative contract agreement.

District Council 37 covers nearly 90,000 municipal employees -- or one-fourth of the city's total unionized workforce. The deal with DC 37 includes 3% annual raises and a new committee to explore flexible work options.

The mayor's first big labor deal since taking office puts remote work on the table for the other upcoming municipal worker contracts.

It comes at a time where the mayor has been urging private companies to get more employees to return to their offices in the city. But some city officials believe strict in-person work rules are driving employees away.

The DC 37 deal includes the creation of a "committee to explore flexible work options including remote work" with the goal of starting a "pilot program that includes remote work no later than June 1, 2023."

The mayor's most recent public statements have indicated a willingness to accept a hybrid option for municipal workers when possible -- a shift from his initial get back to work mantra when taking office.

The mayor said bluntly last February, "you can't stay home in your pajamas all day."

Although the mayor clearly favors in-person work, he will accept whatever recommendations emerge from the committee.

"The beauty of this is the committee is going to be speaking on behalf of those who can do remote work and those who cant," Adams said.

The tentative agreement is retroactive running May 26, 2012 to Nov. 6, 2026.

It includes 3% increase for the first four years and 3.25% in the fifth year; a $3,000 ratification bonus and a minimum wage of $18 per hour -- setting the bar for the other unions much higher than the 1.25% in the city's budget.

Reaching a deal with DC 37 is a major win for the mayor who was elected in part because of union endorsements and because he was a civil servant for decades.

For months, negotiations hinged on a protracted battle over a cost-saving scheme to change retirees' free health care coverage to a controversial Medicare Advantage plan that would force unions to pay for raises by finding health care savings.

The deal has to be ratified by its members. The Police Benevolent Association is likely to be next in negotiations and signaled it is looking to match or exceed DC 37.

It will be followed by the teachers' union, the United Federation of Teachers.

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