NYC MEA meets with Office of Labor Relations

NYC MEA meets with Office of Labor Relations
July 2022

(L to R): Stuart Salles, Legal Counsel, MEA
Darrell Sims, President of the Board, MEA
Renee Campion, Commissioner, OLR
Alice Wong, Executive Director, MEA
Daniel Pollak, Deputy Assistant Counsel, OLR

Dear Commissioner Campion and Deputy Assistant Counsel Pollak,

Thank you for taking time to meet with the MEA. We look forward to continuing development of a working relationship with the Office of Labor Relations. Kindly find attached the January 3, 2022 letter the MEA sent to Mayor Adams. This is a copy of the same letter we presented at our July 13th meeting. In addition to topics in this letter; we have highlighted and expanded our advocacy and discussion regarding the following issues:

Paid Parental Leave.  OLR committed to revisiting this matter with Mayor Adams and will communicate with MEA regarding overall usage data for the PPL Program. MEA proposed a Paid Family Leave Program similar to the unions for the managers.  A City employee must work fifteen years to earn twenty-seven days of annual leave per year.  By the time an employee reaches fifteen years of City service (a senior manager), he or she in most cases is beyond child rearing age.  Because of the age of most senior managers, the PPL Program does not provide any benefit for them although they are contributing two annual leave days per year to help fund the Program.  Based on this rationale, the PPL Program is unfair and inappropriate for most senior managers whose age renders them beyond child rearing.  Whereas, a Paid Family Leave Program would more appropriately provide leave for the care of children, parents, and immediate family members for all managers.  The Paid Parental Leave Program is outdated / obsolete because of limitations on what managers are eligible to benefit from its usage.

Although not discussed, in addition to two annual leave days being taken from each senior manager who earns twenty-seven days of annual leave per year, a .47% pay raise (effective July 1, 2017) was repurposed from all managers to assist in funding the PPL Program.  A Paid Family Leave Program would be available for more managers and provide more equitable usage by a greater number of managers regardless of family composition.  Feasibility for a Paid Family Leave Program will be explored. 

Pay Raises.  It was stated that pay raises are tied to reductions in City healthcare benefit costs. The Healthcare Fund reserve has been depleted. The City and unions must resolve high healthcare benefit costs before pay raises can be considered. Contract negotiations with unions have not commenced. It was expressed that there is no timetable for when raises will be provided for managers or unionized employees. Managerial raises are usually after union collective bargaining raise patterns have been set.

Telework / Work From Home Policy.  We were glad to be informed that OLR has already approached Mayor Adams regarding this topic. MEA endorses the establishment of a policy and program that allows employees to perform their duties through teleworking at alternative work sites, to the maximum extent possible, without diminished performance and services to the people of the City in accordance with each agency’s mandate. MEA’s endorsement letter to the NYS Senate and Assembly is posted on our website, here.

Managerial Longevity Pay.  MEA stressed the importance for managers to have longevity pay as an incentive to become a manager, and as an incentive for the retention of managerial employees.  Managerial longevity pay would create a sense of some pay equity with union employees.  Because managers do not receive overtime pay nor accumulate compensation time when working more than 35 hours per week, longevity pay would help narrow the inequity in compensation between managers and union employees.  Many times, the unionized staff, who the manager supervises, earns more pay than the manager because of longevity and overtime pay.  This can also be demoralizing for managers.

Seminars on Healthcare Benefits. Healthcare benefits seminars to be available for MEA members. We look forward to the contact information and calendar of events to coordinate programs.

Managerial Performance Evaluations.  Both parties agreed it was important that evaluations should be provided annually. OLR will follow-up with DCAS for the city-wide policy.  Please Note: a requirement for Managerial Performance Evaluations would be an example of “Standardization of Regulations for All NYC Managers” pursuant to the MEA letter to Mayor Adams.

Terminal Sick Leave Parity for Managers and Unionized Employees.  MEA advocated for parity with unionized employees in terminal sick leave compensation for managers upon permanent separation from City government.  We strongly believe the requirement for a minimum balance of 60 days of sick leave to be eligible for any sick leave compensation be eliminated. This 60-day minimum balance is not required for unionized employees. We also advocated for compensation for terminal sick leave be allocated at the same rate as unionized employees, one day for every two days of sick leave earned, in lieu of one day for every three sick days earned.  It was stated at the meeting that recently hired unionized employees’ terminal sick leave is allocated for compensation at a rate of one day for every three sick days earned.  However, MEA still advocates, at separation from City government, sick leave for managers should be compensated at one day for every two sick days earned in lieu of one day for every three sick days earned.

City Council Pay Equity Report.  Pay disparity among women and minorities was raised by MEA pursuant to the August 2021 “Pay Equality In NYC” by the New York City Council.  Both parties agreed to have further discussions on this issue.  MEA stated that we would like to participate in any follow-up committees or activities by City agencies or the City Council regarding this Report.

Thank you for your time and attention to these important topics.