NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced that the city has reached a deal with the lifeguard union to raise starting wages for lifeguards to $19.46 per hour.
The city reached the deal with District Council 37 which represents the lifeguards. It bumps their pay from $16 an hour by 22% to $19.46 an hour.
It also includes a retention bonus of $1,000 if the lifeguards work every week of the season.
The city will also develop a training program to fully staff the its 17 mini pools.
"We were able to negotiate a three-day certification, quickly expedited process, that'll allow us to certify guards for shallow water pools, differently and more expeditiously," said Henry Garrido, Executive Director of District Council 37.
When the city's pools opened last week, there were still vacancies in half of all lifeguard positions.
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Swim programs and water aerobics were forced to be canceled.
The Parks Department opened 51 city pools, which will remain open through September 11 every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with an hour break from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
"Every New Yorker deserves to safely enjoy our city's public pools and beaches this summer and my team has taken extraordinary measures to make that happen," Adams said. "Today, we reached a deal with the lifeguard union to address the immediate needs of our pools."
The city has hired 778 lifeguards so far this year and continues to recertify.
"We negotiated for creation of a class of lifeguards who are restricted to mini pools and with this influx of mini pool guards we will be able to very quickly open all of our mini pools, an essential cooling center for young New Yorkers," Adams said. "We are also elevating, for this summer alone, lifeguard pay to $19.46 per hour, and to ensure our beaches and pools are guarded all summer long, we will pay a retention bonus in September to guards who work every week through the end of the summer season.
The city usually has 1,400 to 1,500 lifeguards by July 4, the traditional deadline for hiring. Because of that, there are expected to be daily small pool closures, depending on staffing.
"Finally, we are collaborating across city agencies on a public safety presence to keep swimmers off closed sections of beach, and working with New York City Emergency Management, the New York City Fire Department, and the New York City Police Department to deploy complementary measures to keep New Yorkers safe," Adams said. "While these changes are a step in the right direction, our ability to safely open beaches and pools has been impacted by a national lifeguard shortage, and has also been held back by inefficient practices that are in dire need of further reform. We will continue to work closely to correct course on policies that don't serve New Yorkers and pool resources from all agencies to ensure a fun and safe summer."
The parks department estimates that for the past five days, between 94% and 100% of intermediate and Olympic pools have been open.