May 10, 2012
Around Town – By Neal Tepel
DC 37, Other Unions Representing Prevailing Rate Workers Win Temporary Restraining Order Preventing Mayor Bloomberg From Reclassifying Titles, Changing Benefits
On Friday, May 4, unions representing city workers in prevailing rate titles were granted a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) by Justice Manual J. Mendez of the New York State Supreme Court, New York County. Several unions had filed a lawsuit regarding Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s efforts to reclassify prevailing rate titles, force down the wages of 10,000 municipal trades workers that would destroy a wage-setting process that has been in place for 118 years.
On April 11, 2012, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) reclassified the prevailing rate titles in an attempt to take away prevailing rate protections. Mayor Bloomberg issued two personnel orders. The first order unilaterally imposed new salary ranges for these titles. The second order unilaterally imposed new time and leave regulations (i.e. sick leave, annual leave, and holiday) for these titles.
In their lawsuit, the unions alleged that the Mayor violated Civil Service Law Section 20. Civil Service Law requires three days public notice, a hearing and State Civil Service Commission approval of all DCAS rule modifications and reclassifications. None of this was done. The lawsuit also alleges violations of Section 220 of the Labor Law and that the action was arbitrary and capricious in that it abrogated the union’s collective bargaining agreements.
The TRO restrains the City, pending a hearing and determination, from reclassifying the titles, altering the wages afforded the titles, or paying new hires less than the current collective bargaining agreements
DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts said, “This is a morally reprehensible assault on the wages and benefits of the city’s blue-collar workers – laborers, sewage treatment workers, highway repairers, locksmiths, plumbers, electricians, and more — men and women who use their smarts, their skills and their strength to do the hardest, dirtiest jobs that help make this city run. This union and our labor union brothers and sisters are going to fight back against this attack on blue-collar workers’ Section 220 rights.”
The unions will be back in court for arguments on June 13.