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PEP Oct 2014
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Public Employee Press

A better job
The new contract opens the way for the union and city to find creative ways to fight discrimination, improve promotional opportunities and boost pay through workplace innovations.

By GREGORY N. HEIRES


Traffic Device Maintainers like Ernest Fink are able to supplement their salaries through a gain-sharing program.

Moving swiftly to implement groundbreaking provisions of its new economic agreement - provisions that could raise compensation for many members - District Council 37 will be working this fall on gain-sharing proposals to present to the city and participating in a new high-level labor-management committee to study recruitment and promotion issues.

The agreement opens the way for the union to make gain-sharing proposals and establishes the Joint Recruitment and Promotion Study Committee to address the union's long-standing concerns about inadequate promotional opportunities, discrimination and poor pay scales that make it difficult for the city to recruit and retain talented workers.

Over the past year, DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts has raised the union's concern about the one-in-three rule, which lets management skip over top candidates on civil service lists. One of the goals of the committee will be to deal with that concern by expanding promotional opportunities for DC 37 members.

"We look forward to sitting down with the city to find creative ways to improve city services and to make city jobs more attractive and better compensated," Roberts said.

Evelyn Seinfeld, director of the DC 37 Research and Negotiations Dept, said the union will come up with gain-sharing proposals with the help of unit bargaining committees, local presidents - who will consider recommendations from rank-and-file members - and union technical staff. The department will soon set up a procedure for submitting proposals, she said.

"There's a lot of opportunity here," said DC 37 Associate Director Henry Garrido. Both initiatives should help discourage the city from farming out work, Garrido said.

Successful gain-sharing models exist, Garrido said, referring to two separate initiatives by Traffic Employees Local 1455 and Marine Workers Local 2906. The union will point to the success of those gain-sharing agreements when discussions get underway with the city on new proposals, he said.

The Local 1455 program dates from the early 1990s. Faced with the threat of contracting out traffic sign work, the local came up with a proposal that has helped the city save millions of dollars while keeping work in house and compensating workers for greater productivity.

"Our program helps participating members earn thousands of dollars in extra pay every year," Local 1455 President Michael DeMarco said. All told, the city paid out $122,000 in the latest fiscal year, DeMarco said.

Traffic Device Maintainers who participate in the program get additional pay when they install at least 10.5 traffic signs a day. The Dept. of Transportation tracks the work and gives out bonuses once a year.


Local 2906 Oiler Jeff Ferenczy works on the dock on
Randall's Island.

TDMs are entitled to an extra $1,429 once they install 10.5 signs. Members can take home an extra $7,143 by installing 15 signs, and they can earn even more for installing additional signs.

The Local 2906 gain-sharing agreement stems from a plan by the Dept. of Environmental Protection to build a fuel facility a few years ago. DEP built the facility in order to have a large fuel supply in case of a major disaster.

As part of the project, DEP intended to eliminate the jobs of the local's Oilers, but the local managed to show how the agency could save money by assigning the workers new responsibilities.

During contract talks, the local and management worked out a deal to have the savings shared among the entire membership of more than 70 workers. The agreement provided for an extra percentage on top of the base pay rate of $17.50; the increase bumped the workers' pay to $18.50 an hour.

"If labor can show management how they can save money, it's only fair that the workers should receive a fair share of the savings," said Local 2906 President Jon Bailey.

The union's new contract provides a $150,000 budget for the recruitment and promotion committee. The committee has a two-year deadline to agree on its recommendations, which can be extended if the city and union agree.

The committee will study how the one-in-three rule affects the promotional opportunities of minorities and women, develop training programs and trainee positions, identify ways to help DC 37 members advance their careers, and look at adding new levels in title series and creating new jobs.

The union's representatives on the committee are Roberts, Seinfeld, Garrido and DC 37 General Counsel Robin Roach. The city is represented by Labor Relations Director Robert W. Linn, Office of Management and Budget Director Dean Fuleihan and Office of Operations Director Mindy Tarlow.


 
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