labor District Council 37 and Non-Profit Workers Applaud Signing of Labor Peace Agreement
Following months of advocating on behalf of workers in the non-profit sector, District Council 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido today applauded the signing of Intro. 2252. The bill, which Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law today, requires city human services contractors to enter into labor peace agreements within 90 days of receiving or amending a city contract – affording the workers the ability to organize without interference from their employers. The new law represents a sea change in how labor unions can proceed in organizing and developing collective bargaining agreements with private sector and non-profit organizations under contract with the City.
“Labor peace is now the law of the land – and it’s been a long time coming,” said Henry Garrido, Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME. “Workers in the non-profit social and human services sectors have been in crisis. They face dangerous working conditions, rising health care costs, low pay and extremely high turnover. They have been asking for the ability to organize without fear, and it has finally been granted. I want to thank Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Johnson and the entire City Council for standing up for these workers and doing what’s right.”
“New York City puts working people first,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This piece of legislation is critical and will ensure New York City remains a union town. I thank Speaker Johnson and DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido for their partnership.”
“No City dollars should ever be paid out to employers who engage in union-busting and that’s exactly what this new law will help ensure,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “It will also help give over 200,000 of our City’s essential human service workers the right to organize for the pay and benefits they deserve without fear of retaliation or punishment or interference from their employers. I was proud to have sponsored this in the Council, and I am thrilled it is being swiftly signed into law. I thank my Council colleagues and the de Blasio administration for moving to make this bill a reality.”
Through its Private Sector Division, District Council 37 currently represents 20,000 workers in the non-profit space, many of whom work at private agencies providing services such home health care, early childhood education and homeless outreach services.
“Our human service agencies have helped our city survive. Full stop,” said Council Member Justin Brannan. “The workers at these organizations are the backbone of our city. They support hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers – often the city’s most vulnerable populations including seniors, the homeless, and children – who rely on them now more than ever before. Many New Yorkers rely on these organizations and their workers so much that they don’t even realize they aren’t actual City agencies. These workers deserve fair pay, good working conditions, and the ability to organize. As the former Chair of the New York City Council’s Committee on Contracts, I am grateful for the advocacy of DC 37 in making this happen, and for protecting the rights of these essential workers to organize.”
“I strongly believe in a workers right to organize,” said Council Member Diana Ayala, “Intro 2252 will make this possible for all Human Service Workers. This bill would allow employees’ voices to be heard, set higher standards and ensure worker safety protections. I want to thank DC37 for their continued commitment and advocacy toward worker safety standards, as well as Speaker Corey Johnson and Mayor Bill de Blasio for today’s bill signing.”
“Every New Yorker should be able to come together to fight for their rights without repercussions. I’m proud to have supported Intro. 2252, which makes it easier for employees at social service organizations to unionize. It’s imperative that the City is doing everything possible to strengthen worker protections,” said Council Member Keith Powers.
“From housing assistance to foster care to senior centers, the staff at human services providers keep this city running. As New York City workers, these employees have a right to organize, and it is our duty to ensure they have an unimpeded path to unionization,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera. “With the signing of Introduction 2252 into law, we take a critical step toward that goal by establishing a peaceful process that benefits both workers and their employers, and stopping union busting in our city before it starts.”
“As a teacher at a headstart in Brooklyn, New York, I have watched countless times when management and the CEO of this federal government early childhood program rob and under pay their employees of their due salary. I have also seen management overwork and overlook the health and safety of their workers during this pandemic. As well as cause physical damage to their employees mental health. When workers try to organize for a union, I have seen management go over beyond to retaliate against their employees for wanting better work conditions and knowing their rights as an employee. With the pass of the Labor Peace Bill, employees finally have protection to have their voices heard without retaliation from management. Employees finally will be able to have a seat at the table to negotiate better pay, better health insurance, better retirement plans, better benefit plans, and a better work environment,” said Nickey-Anna Lerice.
Natasha Pasternack, Family Counseling and Case Analyst at Kings County Supreme Court, Civil Term, said, “I am thrilled at the passage of labor peace legislation for human services workers. To borrow an adage: our working conditions are our clients healing conditions. The greater the say we have at work, the better “the work” is going to be. This is a huge step toward a more equitable city. Taking care of the New Yorkers who take care of New Yorkers is a social justice issue.”
“As children get older we teach them how to be worthy, but why are they not worth more than just a dollar sign?” said Shai-Ann Hamilton. “The Labor Peace agreement will allow educators like myself to organize for better working conditions, and in turn better classroom conditions for our students. I’m so thankful that the bill has passed and that now we can get to work to build a better city for the most vulnerable.”
District Council 37 is New York City's largest public employee union, with 150,000 members and 50,000 retirees.