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City Council cancels plan for mandatory in-person work after staffers revolt

Speaker walked back plan hours before informational picket


After receiving pushback from staff represented by the Association of Legislative Employees, City Council leadership informed employees on Thursday that they were scrapping a plan that would have ordered central staffers to work in person full time starting on Oct. 31.  

Division directors and managers will still be required to come into the office every day but other staffers can maintain the status quo: The option of a hybrid schedule that requires them to work on site three days a week. Union members held an informational picket outside of City Hall during their lunch break on Thursday. Workers celebrated the council’s decision while insisting that more work still needed to be done.  

"Today we received some good news which really points to the importance of organized workers coming together to raise their voices collectively through a union,” said Daniel Kroop, ALE’s president.  

"I'm glad to see that the speaker has softened her position and has already decided that for central staff there will be that continued flexibility," he added, referring to Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. “But we also have had as one of our core demands to make sure that everyone in our union, and I'm talking about the council member aides here, has hybrid flexibility." 

Last week, the union delivered a petition with more than 200 signatures to Adams requesting that she discard the plan to eliminate hybrid work schedules. Adams told the employees that she would acquiesce just hours before ALE’s scheduled picket Thursday. 

‘The union needs to be engaged’ 

Kroop, a senior financial analyst in the Council Finance Division, was pleased about the speaker’s announcement but said that discussions over hybrid work “should be the subject of mandatory bargaining,” so that the union “can ensure that all council aides have some hybrid flexibility." Vinuri Ranaweera, ALE’s vice president and director of operations for Council Member Rita Joseph, told The Chief that “the union needs to be engaged for all of these decisions that affect our members. … It’s frustrating.” 

The two sides have already met for bargaining discussions and workers said that in addition to more flexibility with hybrid work they were seeking higher wages, compensation for overtime and a more streamlined process for submitting complaints, grievances and harassment claims. Kroop said that a bargaining unit survey found that workers, on average, work around 33 percent more hours than they are actually paid for.  

Mayor Eric Adams has repeatedly called for all public employees to come into the office full time and ALE is one of several unions bargaining for work from work-from-home rights. “We view ourselves as a public sector union and we’re in solidarity with the broader public sector labor union struggles and challenges for this round of bargaining,” Kroop said. 

A spokesperson for Speaker Adams declined to comment on her announcement but did confirm that contract talks are ongoing.  

"This fight is not over,” Ranaweera said. “We are now fighting for everyone to have a hybrid policy." 

Kroop said it was up to the rank and file to affect their desired ends: “It is the workers themselves coming together being united that can move the needle on issues that are important to us." 



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  • nyrker

    I find it ludicrous that people are protesting that they do not want to return to the office to work. When you were hired for a job you were not given the choice to work from your house or possibly not work from your house. Vaccines have allowed covid to be at least weakened. I am retired now but when I am outside I see all the Millenials who are supposedly "working from home" out in restaurants, on the subway, running errands, and playing pickleball. What are these jobs that can be done at home? Unless you are in IT and coding or doing absolutely rote types of work you need the input of other people. You need supervision you need input you need meetings. This is absurd. To want a raise more overtime and to work on your own most of the week makes no sense. I worked for the city for about 30 years and did not find one person (including me who worked 33 percent more hours than I was paid for). In fact, I think many surveys have found that most workers work about 2 1/2 hours a day.

    Tuesday, November 8, 2022 Report this