Letter from the President, Darrell L. Sims

Dear Members:

I hope all is well and that everyone had a wonderful holiday season. I am honored to be New York City Managerial Employees Association’s newly elected President. A 2020 retiree from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development with a thirty-nine-year tenure as an architect and a manager since 1993, I have been a member of MEA for over twenty-five years. Having served as chapter director, assistant chapter director, and director at large under two slates; I plan to use my experience as well as the advice and experience from the executive board and MEA members to provide leadership for this organization.

With the pandemic and all of the adversities we have faced in the past two years, we have many reasons for which to express gratitude including just being alive. However, there will be many challenges ahead as we step into tomorrow – a new year full of hope, energy, and progress towards a better future.

First, I would like to convey MEA’s and my appreciation to our immediate-past President, Shelly Shulman for his commitment and leadership to the MEA as President and Executive Vice President for the past twelve years. In addition, we would like to extend our appreciation to immediate-past MEA Officers for their many years of dedication and unwavering service to the MEA. Those Officers are: Clara Guity-Bess, Recording Secretary; and Carol David and Marie Delus, Director(s) at Large.

At this time, I am proud to introduce my Team, the Independence in Action Team (IAT) slate which was elected in October 2021. They are:  Edgar Landas, Executive Vice President; Bernard Orlan, Treasurer; Lise Yee, Recording Secretary; and Sam Borkow, Peter Kontogiannis, Cesare Lucido, and Pamela Ross-Barnes, Director(s) at Large. Each expresses his or her honor and commitment to fulfilling their responsibilities.

It is my desire to provide leadership in conjunction with the Executive Board of Directors, Committees, and our Executive Director to address topics such as compensation, career development, and human resources / personnel issues that affect and adversely impact managers throughout their careers.

IAT’s Platform was presented during our candidacy for the MEA Elections.  It is our goal to address each of these twelve items as detailed below:

Recruitment leading to membership growth is the MEA’s life blood – “There is strength in numbers”. The greater number of managers who become members, the stronger our voice since City administrators and elected officials are more responsive to the needs of organizations with large memberships. MEA’s retention and membership growth activities include the following:

  1. Enhance chapter director participation in recruitment and initiation of events for chapter members and agency managers.
  2. Increase outreach to agency managers by chapter directors to recruit new members.
  3. Increase chapter meeting attendance.
  4. Increase chapter membership by fifteen percent (15%) annually.

In addition to the above, MEA will continue its very successful recruitment efforts by MEA staff and officers.

Continue Enhancement of Our Social Media Presence to Promote MEA’s Profile
We encourage and supports our Executive Director and staff in continuing the social media presence that has been spearheaded to promote awareness of our issues, accomplishments, and members’ services.  This promotion identifies MEA and provides insight into our association and its membership.

Paid Parental Leave

  1. We will continue advocating with the Office of Labor Relations for restoration of the two annual leave days per year taken from managers who earned 27 days per year to fund the Paid Parental Leave Program.
  2. MEA also advocates for a Paid Family Leave Program in lieu of continuation of the Paid Parental Leave Program. A Paid Family Leave Program would be more appropriate and practical for use by a greater number of managers than a Paid Parental Leave Program.

Pay Plan for Managerial Employees
MEA advocates for revising the Pay Plan for Managerial Employees to address salary compression. Anytime a non-manager is offered a promotion to the managerial titles, pay compensation for the promotion shall be a guaranteed increase of 8% or more. All promotions within the managerial titles shall also be accompanied by a guaranteed salary increase of 8% or more.

Managerial Longevity Pay
In recognition of career managers’ dedicated public service and as an incentive for permanent civil service managers to remain in public service, MEA advocates for longevity service increments be added to the salaries of qualified managers. Implementation of a longevity service increment pay plan for managers would provide parity in compensation with non-managerial civil service employees. It is proposed that longevity compensation be awarded to managers who have maintained at least a satisfactorily rating on their performance evaluations for three or more years.

Seminars on Healthcare Benefits
With the conversion of NYC Retirees original Medicare healthcare benefits to a Medicare Advantage Plan, we are requesting OLR to provide membership seminars for that transition and for members anticipating retirement. We strongly believe the more informed our members are, the better choices they will be able to make when deciding on healthcare benefits.

Managerial Performance Evaluations
It is good business practice for employers and employees to have an annual contract detailing work tasks and standards based on objective criteria. Evaluations should formally document work performance to justify promotions, increases in compensation and demotions. In addition, evaluations should provide a manager with specific information regarding performance strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, MEA advocates for a productive managerial performance evaluation system.

Meaningful Adverse Action Appeal Procedure
MEA advocates for a meaningful adverse action appeal procedure for managers. The appeal procedure should be transparent, independent, and not in a conflict of interest with those reviewing and making a final decision on the appeal.

Standardization of Regulations for All NYC Managers
There appears to be a lack of uniform and consistent standard of rules and rights for managers working at the various agencies throughout City government. MEA will advocate through the Office of Labor Relations (OLR) and the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) for standardization and distribution of regulations to all managers and all agencies’ human resources units. All managers should be informed of managerial employment guidelines and treated equally and fairly using the same policies and procedures.

Increase MEA Manager Enrollment in The DCAS Leadership Academy
Continuing education and professional development is extremely important in today’s work environment. We advocate for increased enrollment of MEA managers in the DCAS Leadership Academy to enhance managerial skills and abilities.

Reimbursement for Professional License Renewal Fees
Non-managers are contractually entitled to be reimbursed for renewal of their professional licenses while only some managers receive reimbursement for license renewal for select professions by a limited number of agencies. Not all professionals in all agencies are reimbursed accordingly. MEA advocates for all professionals who are required to maintain a license in order to perform their vocational responsibilities be reimbursed for license renewal.

Terminal Sick Leave Compensation Equitable with Non-Managerial Employees
There is an inequality in the value of sick leave upon retirement that the managerial work force receives when compared to the non-managerial work force. Upon retirement, managerial sick leave is reimbursed at the rate of one day for every three days of sick leave earned with a required minimum balance of at least 60 days of sick leave to be eligible to receive any sick leave compensation. Non-managerial sick leave is reimbursed at the rate of one day for every two days of sick leave earned with no minimum balance requirement. MEA advocates for equal treatment of all managers in all agencies and authorities by providing parity with all non-managerial employees regarding terminal sick leave compensation. This would provide all managers with no minimum accrued sick leave requirement and one paid sick day for each two accrued sick days.

Recently, I wrote to Mayor-elect Adams requesting a meeting to discuss many of the issues listed in IAT’s Platform. These topics have been identified as MEA’s on-going points of focus and long-term goals. However, we have more immediate concerns regarding the following topics as they develop during the early months of the new City Administration:

Refinement of Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate for NYC Employees in Office Environments
Clarification of NYC employees’ Covid-19 vaccination mandate pursuant to fact that booster shots are recommended. Will booster shots be required for employees to work in offices?  What does fully vaccinated mean, two vaccine shots or three, and counting? What is the impact of Covid-19 variants on the back to office vaccine mandate? Will there be a long-term strategy to address variant effects on the back to office vaccine mandate?

NYC Medicare Advantage Plus Plan
NYC Medicare Advantage Plus Plan for retirees with an opt-out starting date of April 1, 2022. It is unfair for the City to penalize retirees, who remain in GHI Senior Care Health Plan or other healthcare plans under the Original Medicare Part B Plan, with a monthly premium of $191. Whereas, the Part B Premium was and will continue to be paid by the City until the NYC Medicare Advantage Plus Plan becomes effective April 1, 2022. The opt-out deadline for the NYC Medicare Advantage Plus Plan has been extended to March 31, 2022. At that time, those retirees remaining in GHI Senior Care Health Plan or other healthcare plans will be responsible for paying the Part B Original Medicare premium of $191. For those retirees with lesser pensions, they will not have a true option in making a choice because of the $191 Part B monthly premium is too expensive based on their income, especially with inflation at 6 percent or higher going into 2022.

Please note that between April 1, 2022 and June 30, 2022 (Opt-Out and Plan Switch), retirees will have the opportunity to change from GHI Senior Care Health Plan or other healthcare plans to the NYC Medicare Advantage Plus Plan, or from NYC Medicare Advantage Plus Plan to the GHI Senior Care Health Plan or other healthcare plans. It is advised that retirees visit the NYC Office of Labor Relations website (nyc.gov/olr) to access updated information on retiree healthcare.

NYC City Council Report on Disparity in Salaries Among Women and Minorities in NYC Civil Service Employment
Follow-up on NYC City Council Report on disparity in salaries among women and minorities NYC civil service employees when compared to white males’ salaries for the same work in the same civil service titles. The report provides stunning data comparing salaries of women and minorities with the salaries of white males. Salaries for women and minorities was substantially less than their white male counter-parts. Disparity in salary not only affects victims with lesser pay today, it lessens the perpetuity amount of one’s monthly pension income. In addition, pay disparity creates an artificially developed sub-servant identity in the workplace for the victims. It is possible for victims in workplaces that support this discriminatory practice to have unwarranted stress and financial hardship manifesting from pay disparity.  Pay disparity should be abolished. It should also be noted that pay disparity will impact victims’ decisions on whether they can afford to remain in GHI Senior Care Health Plan with a premium cost of $191 per month or be in the NYC Medicare Advantage Plus Plan because it is free with no monthly premium.

Managerial Salary Raises and New York City’s Budget
Discussion to be determined…

As per the MEA By-Laws, we are in the process of reverting the Organization and Compensation Committee back to two standing committees. The two committees are The Organization Committee, chaired by Edgar Landas; and the Compensation, Benefits and Career Development Committee, chaired by Tina Ramsey. Members are very welcome to join either of these committees. Additionally, we are actively recruiting members for the Events and Fund-Raising Committee, chaired by Cesare Lucido. Please check the MEA website (nycmea.org) for further information.

MEA Office
Executive Director, Alice Wong, is in the process of filling two vacancies for her team. The main position is Office Manager, which became vacant when Ms. Carla Young departed from MEA for a position with the NYC Housing Authority. The other position is Membership Coordinator which became vacant when Ms. Shelby Spruell retired in July 2021.  I extend my congratulations and appreciations to Ms. Young and Ms. Spruell.

Gratitude to Friends, Colleagues and Mentors
There are many people who are my friends, colleagues and mentors that have been special to me along my journey to becoming President of the MEA. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge a few of them. I express gratitude to my HPD Executive Board partner, John Andrezzi; former Executive Director, Linda Barnes; President Emeritus William Dworkin; President Emeritus Stuart Eber; late President Stephen Ferrer; late Joel Fishelson; Warren Lewis; Willie Maye; HPD Chapter Director who recruited me to join MEA, the late Joseph Taffaro; late President Georgia Williams; MEA Members; Executive Board Directors; Committee Members; and the TIP Toastmasters. I appreciate the opportunity and pleasure of meeting, interacting and working with all during my tenure with the New York City Employees Association.

I look forward to representing the MEA as our new Mayor with his Administration address present and future challenges for civil service managers of The City of New York. It will not be easy, however, if we work together and remain united there are no limits on our aspirations and goals. I wish everyone a Safe, Healthy, Peaceful and Happy New Year that is full of achievable hopes and dreams.


Darrell L. Sims