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Wednesday, January 04, 2017
How NYC Labor Commissioner Bob Linn Outsmarted Michael Mulgrew In Negotiating The 2014 Contract.
When Mayor Michael Bloomberg finally left office on January 1, 2014. UFT President Michael Mulgrew saw an opportunity to curry favor with the Bill de Blasio administration and pushed for a long delayed contract for the members. Being his first negotiated contract, Michael Mulgrew wanted to show he was a tough negotiator and his top priority was to get the two 4% raises owed to the members that Michael Bloomberg refused to give the UFT for the years 2009 and 2010. This is when the story begins.
In the winter of 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio told his Labor Commissioner, Bob Linn to start negotiating with the UFT and he gave Mr. Linn two demands. One, that the contract becomes the "new pattern" for all other municipal contracts and two, that the new contract be affordable to the City. Mr. Linn, a veteran of the Koch administration is a savvy negotiator with decades of experience in negotiating municipal contracts. He quickly realized that Michael Mulgrew's top priority was to get his members their two 4% raises. Mr. Linn also knew that the City would lose if the UFT had taken the retroactive payment issue to arbitration. In fact, in the latest PBA arbitration, Arbitrator Edelman emphasized that the "pattern bargaining" is a mainstay for all negotiated contracts and Mr. Linn was probably 99% certain that the City would be on the hook for billions of dollars and put extreme stress on the City budget. Luckily for Mr. Linn, he was negotiating with a novice, Michael Mulgrew.
Mr. Linn dangled the two 4% raises to Mr. Mulgrew as bait in exchange for deferring most of the retro payments out six years to 2020. Customarily, all retro payments were given in the second paycheck to members after a contract was negotiated. However, Mr. Linn persuaded Michael Mulgrew to waive the traditional practice and stretched out the retro payments with 87.5% of these payments not given to the members until 3 to 6 years after the contract was signed. Moreover, Mr. Linn convinced Michael Mulgrew to allow certain teachers who worked during the 2009 and 2010 school years not to get their retro payments. They included members who resigned, were terminated, on unpaid leave, or died. This forced many teachers to retire rather then fight their 3020-a charges. Finally, with the urging of the DOE, the ATRs were made "second class citizens" with reduced due process rights for the first two years of the contract before the UFT thankfully allowed it to sunset.
Mr Linn outmaneuvered the municipal unions when he convinced an over matched Michael Mulgrew to accept a contract that averaged 1.42% for the seven year period, less than the cost of inflation since Mr. Linn was well aware of Michael Mulgrew's eagerness to get a contract. Further, he also received Micheal Mulgrew's approval to reduce health care costs that has saved the City millions of dollars as the municipal workers found themselves paying significantly higher health care costs. The majority of municipal unions howled in disapproval, especially the uniformed unions that saw a meager annual raise since they already had received the two 4% raises, the contract was vastly inferior and thanks to UFT President Michael Mulgrew it became the pattern.
To say that UFT President was over matched by Labor Commissioner Bob Linn in negotiating the City favorable 2014 contract is an understatement. It was like a man negotiating with a boy.