Last week, Teamsters Local 237 and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a tentative contract agreement and a proposed settlement of a pay equity lawsuit that would distribute upwards of $38 million in back pay to current and former school safety employees.
According to the union, school safety employees in New York City are majority female (70 percent). Special officers are 70 percent men and make more than $7,000 more on average than school safety employees, despite having the same duties and training requirements.
The new tentative agreement for Local 237 includes a 10.41 percent wage increase over the life of the contract, with 3 percent retroactive pay and a $1,000 lump sum signing bonus. Once the bill is ratified, a signing bonus will paid and a retro check will be mailed to all members. Wages will then increase by 3 percent, followed by annual raises for the rest of the contract’s life. On top of raises, the contract also maintains the union’s health benefits and strengthens the Local 237 welfare fund.
Currently, school safety agents can earn, at maximum, $35,323 a year while special officers earn $42,332. With the tentative agreement, there will be a 10 percent raise in wages over a seven-year span, with both job titles eventually falling under the same pay scale plan by March 2017.
At a news conference last week, Teamsters Local 237 President Greg Floyd spoke of the importance that this agreement happened now.
“Our contract negotiations not only ended well, but the entire negotiation process was conducted in an environment of respect and fairness,” said Floyd. “Mayor de Blasio and his negotiating team recognized how critical public employees are to the delivery of vital services that affect the daily lives of every New Yorker. So today, the members of Teamsters Local 237 can celebrate that we achieved a fair contract which gives their families the security they desire and deserve.
“Also, I want to thank Mayor de Blasio, on this Women’s Equality Day for yet another indication that he views women public workers with dignity and fairness.”
Union representatives were quick to note that had they accepted the contract offered by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, they would’ve had no raises for years, along with no retroactive pay and a requirement to pay a portion of their health insurance for the first time in the union’s history.
“When he was on the campaign trail, he made a promise. He said he would settle the school safety agents’ lawsuit for pay equity,” said Floyd. “He made that promise at a forum held by the National Organization for Women. Mayor de Blasio kept his word! He was not saying something just to get elected … something the crowd wanted to hear.”
Floyd also had one more messages to his constituents when it comes to their jobs. “Congratulations to all of our members, who can hold their heads up high, knowing that when you say: ‘I work for the city,’ you’re not automatically greeted with sneers,” he said. “Maybe, one day soon, you’ll even get some cheers.”