August 27, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
Brooklyn, NY—Schools safety agents with Teamsters Local 237 had a lot to celebrate here, three years after they filed a pay equity lawsuit and almost four years working under an expired labor contract.
Speaking at the entrance of the Cobble Hill School of American Studies, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a tentative contract agreement with the union, which includes a provision for resolving a three-year old discrimination lawsuit against the city which was paying school safety agents, the majority of them women of color, about $7,000 less than similarly employed special officers.
In the accompanying video interview, Gregory Floyd, Local 237’s president, said that the union won two victories in one day.
“We had a major victory with achieving a contract for our city-wide titles, and then we had a second victory because our school safety agent lawsuit was essentially settled. This is an historic day. We have been dreaming about this day since March 5, 2010, and today it came to fruition on Women’s Equality Day,” said Floyd.
He noted that, should the lawsuit receive court approval, school safety agents would receive an immediate bump in pay, including back pay.
“After three years, the pay for school safety agents will go from $35,000 to just south of $47,000. That’s a tremendous victory,” Floyd said.
The mayor said he was glad to resolve the contract and lawsuit.
“This is a major win for our workforce and our city, providing fair pay to school safety agents and special officers and eliminating the risks of an open contract and open litigation, all while securing unprecedented health savings and protecting our fiscal health,” Mr. de Blasio said.
According to the administration, health care savings will pay for the new contract, which calls for 10 percent in raises over seven years and a $1,000 ratification bonus.
The mayor noted that the Local 237’s new contract is modeled on the labor agreement the city reached with the United Federation of Teachers in May. Asked if he was happy with the new tentative agreement, Mr. Floyd said he believes that the pattern set by the UFT deal is decent.
“This was better than the previous contract that was offered to us [by the Bloomberg administration], which was basically zeros,” said Floyd.
Yvonne Clark has been a school safety agent since 1993. She said she was thrilled to hear that the lawsuit was finally resolved and looking forward to more purchasing power.
“I can finish my college degree and no longer have to worry about student loans being late, or in default,” said Clark.