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September 15, 2021

Freddi Goldstein
Cell (973) 985-1458

District Council 37 files improper practice petition to stop “Return To Work” for 80,000 non-essential workers

Filed with the Office of Collective Bargaining, the Petition argues on the grounds of health and safety.

NEW YORK—In an effort to stop the mandatory “return to work” for 80,000 non-essential municipal workers, District Council 37 yesterday filed an Improper Practice Petition with the Office of Collective Bargaining. The Petition argues that the Mayor’s mandate puts workers’ health at risk by prematurely and unnecessarily bringing everyone back to the office, especially given the increased risk from the Delta variant and others. District Council 37 represents the majority of the 80,000 workers in question. Most have worked remotely since March 2020 without issue. The Improper Practice Petition follows weeks of attempting to negotiate a delay with the City.

“The workers who make up District Council 37 have kept New York City running for the last 18 months,” said Henry Garrido, Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME. “They’ve proven time and again that no matter where they are, the job will get done. With the Delta variant and all the others, the landscape of COVID-19 is too uncertain to needlessly force people back to their desks. We will not let our members be used as guinea pigs. The City must allow non-essential works to work from home until we are certain it’s safe.”

The Office of Collective Bargaining will now review the Petition and the City will have an opportunity to respond.

After over 200 inspections of members’ work locations, the union has determined that indoor office spaces – largely unused since the start of March 2020 – are not equipped to the new safety standards and therefore not ready for the return of workers. Further, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services removed the social distancing requirement still recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. District Council 37 requests City Hall halt bringing non-essential workers back until all office spaces are deemed safe.

Last week, Executive Director Henry Garrido penned an op-ed in the New York Daily News calling on the Mayor to delay bringing non-essential workers back to the office.

District Council 37 is New York City's largest public employee union, with 150,000 members and 50,000 retirees.