MEA Testimony on “The Future of Municipal Work”

“The Future of Municipal Work”
New York City Council, Civil Service and Labor Committee Hearing
Tuesday, September 26, 2023, 1:00 pm

Good afternoon, Madame Chair Carmen De La Rosa, Committee Members and attendees.

I am Darrell Sims, President of the New York City Managerial Employees Association (MEA), and with me is Alice Wong, the Executive Director of the MEA.  We would like to thank the Committee for providing us with the opportunity to testify on behalf of over 14,000 NYC managerial and confidential employees.

The MEA supports New York City Council Resolution No. 481.  On February 14, 2022, the MEA wrote to the New York State Assembly and Senate endorsing Bill A457 and Bill S5536 respectively, that have become known as NYS Legislation Bill A.1435: “New York City Teleworking Expansion Act”.  This bill is proposed as Resolution 481 for amendment into the New York City Administrative Code.

Based on experience and information expressed to me by the MEA Executive Board and our members, the ability for teleworking is one of the main issues confronting the municipal workforce today.  The telework option will assist in the retention of the existing workforce as well as attract new recruits into City government employment by providing location flexibility for the performance of work.   However, MEA expresses concern regarding the potential for managers to be excluded from teleworking when implemented by agencies because of managers’ high level of work responsibilities and the assumption that a continuous in-office presence is required.

Unionized City employees may not be dependent on Resolution 481 in order to have a telework option because of similar options being negotiated in collective bargaining contracts.  Whereas, managers are not subject to collective bargaining agreements.  Therefore, Resolution 481 may be the only means of providing a telework option for managers – which would be at the discretion of agency commissioners.   The MEA strongly believes there should be limited disparity in telework options between managerial and unionized employees depending on work responsibilities.  Managers should be assured of similar telework options as unionized employees.

Additionally, MEA supports New York City Council Resolution 467 requiring City agencies to create policies regarding employee use of City-owned digital devices for communications during non-work hours.

As part of MEA’s testimony, we will present our endorsement letter addressed to the New York State Assembly and Senate expressing our support and advocacy for this improvement in the work / life experience for the betterment of New York City managers.  In addition, we conducted a telework survey of our in-service managers that supports Resolution 481.  Please see attached copies of these documents.

MEA Telework Survey Results.

MEA Letter to New York State Assembly and Senate.

MEA surveyed our members regarding work from home (WFH) and its adoption as a future policy for New York City managerial employees.  The survey also included questions related to retention and job-related support systems.  The morale of City managers is low because of no work from home option and other extremely important factors such as the absence of pay raises.  We found City managers to be significantly impacted financially by not receiving pay raises since October of 2019, especially with inflation being the highest in over forty years.  Another contributing factor for low morale is managers performing extra work to provide coverage for the high number of vacant positions without receiving additional compensation.

To remedy the high number of job vacancies among municipal agencies, the City must adopt to current employment needs and recruitment by providing work from home options.

Our Survey Statistics include:

  1. 95% support WFH options
  2. 67% work / life balance has gotten worse since returning to the office
  3. 74% harder to fill open vacancies and believe the lack of WFH is a main factor
  4. 46% seeking job opportunities elsewhere or retirement options
  5. 70% managers have taken on additional work as colleagues leave

Top issues include:

  1. IT technology, infrastructure upgrades, and equipment are needed to support WFH
  2. Standardized WFH city policy vs per agency is of concern
  3. WFH policy might not be applicable or able to be offered to everyone, thus it might not be fair policy
  4. Preference for hybrid option for flexibility to collaborate with colleagues
  5. Flexibility of not commuting for an improved work / life balance
  6. Be competitive in the job market to attract talent and retain current employees
  7. Mental health focus should be a priority

While these are the highlights of the survey, a full report was previously provided to City Council.  We look forward to continuing development of a working relationship and open lines of communication with City Council.  Thank you for time and attention to these important matters.

Respectfully submitted,

Darrell L. Sims                                                                                            Alice Wong
President                                                                                                   Executive Director