December 8, 2011
By Marc Bussanich, LaborPress City Reporter
On the steps of City Hall a press conference was held by union officials to denounce, again, Mayor Bloomberg’s attacks on working families and union members. The latest denouncement comes from DC 1707, as the union announced on December 5 that it issued a lawsuit against the Bloomberg administration’s obstructing of collective bargaining between the union and the Head Start Sponsoring Board Council and the Day Care Council of New York, two organizations that employ DC 1707 Locals 95 and 205 members, respectively, for providing early childhood care services.
Thomas Murray, an attorney for DC 1707, said the lawsuit charges that the City’s EarlyLearn (the City claims EarlyLearn will raise standards in the early childhood education system) Request for Proposal (RFP) is a violation of the Federal Service Contract Act because the RFP “fails to comply with the Act in many respects.” “The goal of the lawsuit is to stop the City from going forward with the EarlyLearn RFP,” said Murray.
The union noted that in the spring, the City, through its Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), issued an RFP for contractors to bid on providing Head Start and day care services. A provision within the Act requires that wages and fringe benefits be stipulated, but the union claims the RFP flagrantly violates the statute because it fails to “set forth the wages to be paid, or the fringe benefits to be provided.”
There has been a longstanding collective bargaining agreement covering Head Start and fully-funded day care employees. But when DC 1707 stopped day care budget cuts earlier this year, the City soon thereafter issued the RFP, which upends the decades’ long agreement. By not specifying remuneration in the RFP, competing vendors will be encouraged to submit proposals at the lowest denomination, thereby undercutting current employees’ wages.
On top of that, the union claims that if the EarlyLearn RFP goes through, “it’ll eliminate day care and Head Start slots for more than 10,000 currently enrolled children” because ACS will not adequately provide funding.
Murray also said that the RFP will not save the city additional money. Rather, if the day care centers currently offering services and employing DC 1707 members aren’t awarded a contract via the new RFP (unless it’s stopped), many members eligible for retirement could potentially retire simultaneously, putting pressure on the other institutions, such as the Museum of Natural History and City zoo’s, to fund the Cultural Institutions Retirement System (CIRS) to cover pension liabilities.
G.L. Tyler, DC 1707’s political director, said that the union has been forced to file the lawsuit because the Mayor’s EarlyLearn RFP will adversely affect “the most comprehensive and progressive day care system in the country.”