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The City University of New York has reached tentative contract agreements with three unions representing more than 10,000 non-pedagogical staff in the public university system.
The tentative pacts with District Council 37, Teamsters Local 237 and SEIU Local 300, which Governor Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday, must still be ratified by the rank and file and approved by the CUNY Board of Trustees.
The deal with DC 37, which represents thousands of college assistants, IT staff, bookkeepers and other CUNY employees, includes 14.9 percent in compounded wage increases over the span of the 67-month agreement. All employees covered under the contract must make at least $18 an hour, retroactive to July 1, 2023, which is the same minimum salary DC 37 negotiated for its 90,000 members covered under the labor agreement reached last year with the Adams administration.
DC 37’s retroactive deal runs from June 1, 2021 through Jan. 9, 2027. Covered employees will also receive a $3,000 ratification bonus. Eight DC 37 locals represent CUNY employees, including Locals 375, 2054 and 2627.
Many DC 37 members working at CUNY, particularly part-timers, experienced increased instability during the height of the pandemic because CUNY shifted to employing them on month-to-month contracts and reduced their hours.
“Our members in the CUNY system demonstrated their unwavering resiliency during the pandemic and deserve a contract that reflects their efforts,” DC 37’s executive director, Henry Garrido, said. “We answered that call through a difficult series of negotiations with CUNY in the face of funding challenges from both the City and State. We thank Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams for helping put a deal together that fairly compensates our members and responds to the new world of work.”
CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez referenced the key functions the union members play at the university following the announcement of the provisional deal. “From public safety officers and nurses keeping our campuses safe and our students healthy to the custodial staff, clerical workers, and IT experts that keep our facilities running, staff employees are part of the backbone of the CUNY system,” he said in a statement. “This contract speaks to the essential role that our DC 37 employees play in maintaining CUNY as a preeminent institution of higher learning.”
The tentative agreements with all three unions provide 2.5-percent annual raises for the first two years of the contract, 3-percent raises in the third and fourth years, and a final 3.125 increase in 2025. The exact dates vary by union.
Retention a key goal
Teamsters Local 237’s pact, in addition to negotiating the same economic terms as DC 37, aims to address retention issues among campus peace officers.
Prior to the pandemic, CUNY staffed about 900 campus peace officers and 600 campus security assistants across its 25 campuses. But by 2022, that number dwindled to 600 peace officers and just half of the number of campus security assistants. The shortage has been attributed to low pay, with some campus peace officers — who are empowered to make arrests — leaving for other jobs in law enforcement.
The pact, which spans from Sept. 19, 2021, through July 15, 2027, reduces from seven years to five years the amount of time it takes for campus peace officers to reach the top salary, which will increase from $42,085 to $58,516 by the end of the contract, according to the union.
The pact also provides longevity differentials for emergency medical technicians who have been on the job for at least 10 years.
“This was a difficult negotiation, but with the collective efforts of Governor Hochul, Mayor Adams and CUNY Chancellor Matos Rodríguez, we have reached an agreement to bring to our members,” said Local 237 President Gregory Floyd.
SEIU Local 300 represents purchasing agents and associate purchasing agents in the public university system. “New York City is nothing without its workers. With this contract, they will be able to withstand inflation and the rising cost of living,” said the union’s president, Jim Golden.
That pact runs from March 1, 2021, to June 19, 2026.
Hochul said that the labor agreements would “help to ensure that these hard-working employees of the City University of New York are fairly compensated for the work they do every day to support New York’s college students. My administration is committed to standing up for workers and ensuring they get the wages and benefits they deserve, and we look forward to seeing the full ratification of this agreement very soon.”
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