Facing New York’s New Mayor, Public Unions Should Fuse Their Bargaining Power

Source: Rosie Frascella, Labor Notes, April 24, 2014

….On paper, all the city’s union leaders are saying the same thing: their members want and deserve retroactive pay for the several years our wages have been frozen because of expired contracts. Though the city wants big health care concessions in exchange for retro pay, so far no union leaders have put givebacks on the table.

However, the union who settles its contract first will set the pattern for the rest—and New York’s unions have been on the defensive for decades, not only from employers but also from each other. Rank-and-file workers have been carrying the burden through frozen pay and increased costs for pensions and health, as the cost of living steadily rises.

A new coalition of rank-and-file union members, Public Workers United, has formed to call for a unified plan to win retroactive raises for all. The coalition includes members from Professional Staff Congress (PSC), Communications Workers, United Federation of Teachers (UFT), Organization of Staff Analysts, Teamsters 237, AFSCME District Council 37 (including Locals 371, 768, 1549, and others), Transport Workers (TWU), New York State Nurses (NYSNA), and a few other unions and locals.

The coalition organized a March 6 forum where 75 rank-and-file employees gathered to discuss how to organize—not only for fair retroactive raises, but also for better public services for New Yorkers….