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Public Employee Press

Newest members win a contract



William McCure works near Grand Central Station in Manhattan. Workers at the
Grand Central Partnership business improvement district recently approved their
first contract as DC 37 members.

DC 37's newest members voted overwhelmingly in December to approve their first contract, which provides health coverage, an hourly wage increase and a retroactive payment.

The economic agreement for the 60 workers at the Grand Central Partnership business improvement district runs from Nov. 1, 2013, to Oct. 31, 2014. It provides for a lump sum payment of $434.59 upon ratification. Probationary employees will get the lump sum once they complete their probation.

In early January, more than 50 of the cleanup crew workers voted to sign up for the United Healthcare Oxford health-care plan, which needed at least 45 members to take effect. When the workers voted in September to quit Local 713 of the International Brotherhood of Trade Unions and join DC 37, their previous health coverage ended.

Partnership sanitation worker Mike Gomez, a lead organizer in the campaign to join DC 37 who served on the bargaining committee, said members would naturally have liked a higher raise.

But, he said, the 39 cent hourly increase, though modest, was the fairest way to put extra money into the pockets of members. The committee rejected a percentage increase, which would have disproportionately benefited more senior workers with higher base pay.

"We got the retro and the health plan, and the guys got some money," said Gomez, noting that the committee hopes to focus on additional issues in the next round of bargaining. "We really needed to get the medical plan," said Gomez, noting that some members would have faced hefty medical bills if they went much longer without coverage.

Lead negotiator Mark Heron and Lisa Riccio, assistant directors of the DC 37 Research and Negotiations Dept., and Assistant General Counsel Meaghan Murphy worked on the contract negotiations and health-care plan.

"Because our members had lost health-care coverage, we really felt a need to conclude negotiations as soon as possible," Heron said.

Riccio said DC 37 appreciated the Partnership's willingness to work with the union to get coverage from Oxford. Because the Grand Central workers are not public employees, they are not eligible for the New York City health-care plan that covers most DC 37 members.

As they hammered out the health plan with Oxford and Grand Central Partnership, union negotiators insisted that members not face undue financial hardship. The weekly employee contribution rates are $5.28 for a single worker, $9.24 for a parent and child, $11.90 for an employee and spouse and $16.11 for an employee and family.

The Grand Central Partnership employees are among the few DC 37 members working in the private sector for organizations, including Empire Consulting Solutions, New York Law School and Sodexo, a French food services and facilities management multinational corporation.

 
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