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Public Employee Press

Contract extension passes overwhelmingly


Members overwhelmingly approved by 95 percent a contract extension that will allow millions of dollars to be poured into the union welfare plan’s financially-troubled prescription drug plan.

An independent monitor, the American Arbitration Association, announced the results of the mail-ballot vote on March 10. Members approved the extension by 23,526 to 1,096.

“The passage of the contract extension is a very significant step toward protecting the plan from being devastated by the relentless pressure of rising drug prices,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido.

This extension will earmark $24 million to the DC 37 Health & Security Plan, which provides the popular drug benefit.

Under an agreement between the city and the union, the city will permanently raises its annual contributions to the DC 37 Health & Security Plan. The city will soon provide an additional $200 every year for each full-time member and retiree, increasing its annual rate contribution from $1,575 to $1,775. This contribution is pro-rated for part-time workers.

“The permanent rate increase is a big help,” plan administrator Willie Chang said. “For about 20 years, the city has only been providing us with one-time cash increases. This additional $200 rate for each member and retiree will give the plan greater financial stability in the next few years.”

The contract extension, which the union and city negotiated in January, will enable the DC 37 Health & Security Plan to maintain the union’s benefits package for members and retirees.

During the past eight years, the pharmaceutical industry has raised prescription drug prices by 105 percent. During this period, the city’s contribution increased 1.05 percent.

Today, prescription drugs consume 76 percent of the costs of the welfare fund, which also covers the dental benefit and other benefits managed by the plan.

The union’s current 2010-17 economic agreement will be extended from July 2 to Sept. 25. All other terms of the contract will remain the same.

During each round of bargaining, the union and the city negotiate over  the contributions, in addition to salary increases.

The union hopes to enter negotiations with the city on a new economic agreement as soon as possible in order to prevent members from being burdened with a long wait for their pay increases.

In the past, members have sometimes waited months, or even years for their raises because of complications in the bargaining process. For instance, negotiations for the current contract were stalled during the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, and didn’t get back on track until after de Blasio’s inauguration.

The economic agreement covers must DC 37 members working in mayoral agencies, NYC Health+Hospitals, the Dept. of Education and the New York City Housing Authority.

Members at the School Construction Authority, NYC Transit, and the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority will be asked to vote on a similar contract extension.

City University of New York employees and Local 924 members have already approved contracts that include the extra $200 payment.

Some DC 37 members are covered by contracts with different expiration dates. Those contracts will be similarly extended by two months and 23 days.