Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Has The De Blasio Administration Found A Solution To The Retroactive Pay Issue?
There is no secret that Mayor Bill de Blasio was saddled with 152 expired contracts as Mayor Bloomberg irresponsibly refused to negotiate with the municipal unions. While the City's economic recovery smartly progresses with a surplus that increased another 225 million dollars above the previous surplus, primarily due to increased tax receipts and better economic conditions, its still a problem for the City. The March Comptroller report that shows the increased City surplus can be found here. However, the "retroactive raises" alone from the previous "City pattern" for the teachers, supervisors, and nurses will be 3.5 billion dollars, wiping out this year's and most of next year's surplus. Of course the City can pay the "retroactive raises" in yearly payments (three years) but still the City must negotiate with the other unions for the last three years and the total cost could approach 7 billion dollars! Now it seems that the De Blasio Administration has come up with a novel way to handle the irresponsible Bloomberg stance on municipal union contracts.
The PBA, in one of its blogs claimed that the De Blasio Administration has raised a "trial balloon" that would eliminate or severely limit "retroactive raises" by replacing the raises with years of service credit. The City has proposed for the four years the police has been without a contract, the members would receive four years of service credit in liu of the "retroactive raises". Part of the agreement would also require the police to pay a minimal part of their health benefits. This would also free up the City to hire more "Tier 3" police as the more expensive "Tier 2" members would retire.
This novel approach may be applicable to some degree for teachers, who will be without a contract for five years. Would the members be willing to give up all or a significant part of the "retroactive raises" for service credit? Maybe, but the devil is in the details. Will the deal include the two 4% raises? or just the last three years? How much of our health benefits would we pay? 1.5% or 25%? Will there be adjustments to per session and coverage pay? How about the ATRs and retirees?
To me, its very intriguing and I certainly would like the union to explore it and poll its members if the City wants to offer a similar package to the teachers. Would you give up "retroactive raises" and pay some minimal health benefit costs for three, four, or five years of service credit? Interesting to say the least. Let's see how this actually plays out. We live in an interesting time.