The UFT tonight sent the following email to its membership. Background on the deferred wages follows the email.
Dear UFT Member,
Citing the fiscal emergency and a budget deficit of nearly $9 billion, the city has sent a letter giving us notice that it will not be able at this time to make the final lump-sum payments, due this month.
This is unacceptable.
Those payments are overdue wages that go back to 2009 and 2010, when then-Mayor Bloomberg refused to grant educators the same wage increases other municipal workers received.
We are entitled to this money, and the city is obligated to make us whole.
Because of a clause we insisted on including in the 2014 contract for just such a possibility, we are taking the city to immediate arbitration. With arbitration, we don’t have to file a grievance or go to court, which could take months or years.
Our hearing before an independent arbitrator is already scheduled for tomorrow. At that hearing, we will demand that the city uphold the agreement it made with us.
The city needs to keep its promises, particularly to its educators, who have done so much to keep our schools moving forward during this pandemic.
I’ll let you know what the arbitrator rules.
BACKGROUNDER: UFT lump-sum payments
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg awarded members of some municipal unions four percent raises in 2009 and 2010. However the then-mayor, citing growing national and local economic problems, refused to give the same raises to public school educators and other city employees.
When Bill de Blasio became mayor, he agreed to pay the money owed but said the city could not afford to pay it all at one time. The UFT negotiated a contract in 2014 that ensures UFT-represented employees would eventually be made whole.
That 2014 contract, in addition to establishing pay raises of more than 7% over the term of the agreement, also called for payments over the next six years to deal with the wages owed since 2009 (12.5% of in 2015, 12.5% in 2017, 25% each year in 2018, 2019 and 2020).
In 2018 the UFT and the city signed a new contract with annual pay raises totaling more than 7.5%. The 2018 agreement incorporated the remaining lump-sum payments that were part of the 2014 contract.