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  Public Employee Press

PEP May 2006
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  La Voz

Public Employee Press

Wave Hill workers ratify first union contract

DC 37 members at the Wave Hill garden and cultural center voted 13-2 on March 20 to approve their first contract, which includes an immediate $2,700 raise. The pact runs from March 20, 2006, through Dec. 31, 2008.

The Wave Hill employees, who are members of Local 374, voted to join the union in March 2005.
They will also receive any raises provided in the new economic agreement now being negotiated by DC 37 on behalf of nearly 100,000 members of the union.

“As this was the group’s first contract, it was a long and tedious process to come up with a final agreement,” said Local 374 President Cuthbert Dickenson. “But we are happy with the outcome. We made significant benefit gains, and won strong raises for some members who were denied raises the last time Wave Hill raised the pay of other employees.”

The $2,700 pay hike retroactive to June 30, 2005, amounts to an average increase of 7 percent for the workers, who include clerical, maintenance and horticultural employees at Wave Hill, which occupies 28 acres in the northwest Bronx.

In a significant gain, the newly unionized workers will now be covered by the same benefits as most other DC 37 members, including audiology, podiatry, tuition reimbursement and the drug benefit. Before the new contract, they had to pay for a health insurance rider to get drug coverage.

They are now entitled to paid overtime, grievances and arbitration, health and safety protections, layoff and recall rights, and a terminal leave benefit, which will allow them to receive a payment for half of their sick leave balance up to 90 days.

The probation period for new employees was extended from four to six months in exchange for the provision of health coverage on the first day of the job (instead of after four months) and annual personal leave was reduced from three days to one, matching workers at other cultural institutions.

Besides Dickerson, the Bargaining Committee included Wave Hill employees José Concepcion and Jessica Menijvar, Moira Dolan of the Research and Negotiations Dept., Steven Sykes of the Legal Dept. and Keith Clarke of the White Collar Division.

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