New York, NY – The Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority is a New York State public benefit corporation whose mission is to plan, create, coordinate, and sustain a balanced community of commercial, residential, retail, and park space within its designated 92-acre site on the lower west side of Manhattan.

The Battery Park City Authority’s (BPCA’s) Parks Operations Department includes both Horticulturists and Maintenance professionals who work year-round throughout Battery Park City’s 36 acres of parks and public spaces.

Now, the roughly 50 Parks Operations professionals have, with an agreement between DC37 and BPCA, become unionized. The BPCA Board of Directors unanimously approved the move on June 6, 2023, and it is now final and in effect retroactive to June 1, 2023.

This agreement between DC 37 and BPCA provides the following for the workers:

Minimum of $40K annual salary for full-time employees;

3% annual across-the-board salary increases retroactive to June 2022;

3% annual across-the-board salary increases effective June 1, 2023, June 1, 2024 and June 1, 2025;

One-time longevity bonuses on milestone dates (e.g., 10 years);

A dispute resolution process for grievances;

Union representation for employees subject to disciplinary action

Post-termination grievance process

B.J. Jones, President and CEO of BPCA: said of the agreement, “As adopted by union membership, and approved unanimously by the Battery Park City Authority Board, we’re pleased to have reached this agreement with DC 37 for the approximately 50 Parks Operations professionals who work daily, and tirelessly, to keep Battery Park City’s public spaces at their world-renowned standard. We thank BPCA’s bargaining unit, our executive staff, the New York State Office of Employee Relations, and DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido for the fruitful and productive negotiation leading to this agreement.”

One of the professionals B.J. Jones may have been referring to, is Horticulturalist Richard Faraino. He is an employee of BPCA who does work tirelessly, and LaborPress asked him for his perspective on the deal, as well as what goes into the daily job that he does.  

LP: How long have you been on the job at Battery Park City, and what is your position?

RF: I started at Battery Park City 15 years ago. I am 66 years old, and a full time Horticulturist.

LP: What is a typical day of work like for you?

RF: I maintain two areas of the park, 30 beds that make up the Belvedere and a quarter acre of the Irish Hunger Memorial. On a typical day this time of the year I start by picking up the trash and then check on our irrigation systems. Keeping the plants and trees hydrated is a top priority so frequently I am troubleshooting breaks in the system. Some fixes are simply splicing the lines to replace damaged parts near the soil surface or it could mean digging a 3 by 4ft deep trench to find the broken pipe and replacing it. It may mean hauling out 300 feet of hose to get to a water supply and then moving them around to reach the planting beds. I may have to do some tree pruning and assist with chipping. Weeding is daily. Also I am considering plant selection for the next season. This is very important research. The selection must meet certain criteria. First of all the plants must support our local ecosystem, therefore preferably native to our area, they must also be aesthetically pleasing, arranged and planted to attract the attention of the public. I must make the park beautiful and draw attention to Nature. This also means keeping the plants and trees healthy so daily I am scouting for pests and diseases. To maintain hundreds of varieties of plants and trees requires daily observation to ensure that each has its needs met. Weather is a major factor as we work outside throughout the year. During winter snow removal is a top priority and hard work especially in the midst of a storm.

LP: What are your thoughts about the new contract?

The new contract, which is our first contract, was hard won. Management fought us on every issue. Often it felt like a David vs. Goliath scenario. Myself, Curtis Afzal our Assistant Warehouse Manager, Betsy Afzal Maintenance Supervisor and Ronnie Mohammed, Mechanic along with DC37’s lead Negotiator Moira Dolan, represented the bargaining unit. It was a lot of work, much of it on our personal time over 18 months. Was it worth it? Yes. We are no longer ‘At Will’ employees. We now have a measure of economic security. Before, cost of living increases were discretionary. Some years given, others not (In fact skipped 8 years of raises during my 15 year tenure). The Authority never made up for those years so our salaries had in effect decreased as cost of living increased. Now we know that we will receive a cost of living increase for the next 3 years. We now have union representation – a seat and a voice at the table. Issues can be discussed, problems addressed equally, and changes to work rules can be made that are acceptable to both sides. Severe disagreements can be grieved and taken to an outside arbitrator for resolution. Also we have longevity bonuses. We never had that before. 

LP: Is there anything in the contract you wish were different?

RF: What I do not like about the new contract is that we are still held to some questionable work rules and to some economic issues such as how merit raises are determined that have not been worked out yet. Also, I think that our wage increases should have been set to offset more of the union dues.

LP: What do you think about your new Local?

RF: We will be in good company with DC 37 Local 374.

LP: Any final thoughts?

RF: I truly believe that at Battery Park City Authority both management and Operations staff can find common ground for a safe, fair and equitable work environment. We are on our way to getting there.


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