February 13, 2016
By Steven Wishnia
New York, NY—The city’s traffic-enforcement agents overwhelmingly ratified their first contract in almost six years on Feb. 12. Communications Workers of America Local 1182 members voted 1,784 to 14 in favor of the agreement reached with the de Blasio administration last month.
The deal, which will run from March 2010 through December 2017, will raise agents’ pay by a total of 10%, with retroactive increases going back to 2011 and a 3% raise coming in September. It will also begin step-pay increases, raises based on length of service, and create a program to give agents annuities when they retire, with the city investing $261 a year per agent in the fund.
“This is a landmark contract,” Local 1182 President Syed Rahim said, as agents lined up to vote in the basement of CWA Local 1180 headquarters, clad in heavy blue winter-uniform jackets and lime-green vests, radios on their hips, waiting to deposit their paper ballots into two clear plastic bins. He listed four major gains: “We never had a step plan. We never had a maximum. We never had an annuity. We got the gain-sharing. Mayor Bill de Blasio helped us. Police Commissioner William Bratton helped us.”
The contract will raise Level I agents’ maximum salaries from $33,000 to $41,200 and Level II agents from $36,000 to $43,200, said Local 1182 executive vice-president Sokunbi Olufemi. The step increases will be given to Level I agents on the anniversary of their hiring and to Level II agents on the anniversary of their promotion. He said it wasn’t clear yet how much they would be.
The city also agreed to pay members more for taking on extra tasks, such as responding to traffic accidents and building collapses. “Within nine months, the city is going to pay us for working out of title,” said Olufemi, with the additional pay coming from the money the city saves “by using us.”
Turnout was heavy in the more than 12 hours of voting—“The nighthawks were here at 7 a.m.,” Local 1182 traffic vice-president Tammy Meadows quipped—and rank-and-file members generally enthusiastic. “It’s a historic agreement,” Level II agent Marcus Greenwich said after he voted. “It’s the first time Local 1182 was able to negotiate for a fair wage outside the scope of DC 37.”
“The numbers are good,” said Level II agent Diane Lindsay. “It breaks the deadlock,” added Level I agent Md. Jalil.
“It could be better, but we have nothing to complain about,” said Level II agent Nasir Haidar. “I hope in the future we get more.”
“I am proud,” Rahim said after the results came in.