Harry Nespoli is President of the Sanitationmen's Association and he is also head of the Municipal Labor Committee, an umbrella group of public sector NYC employee unions that negotiates our healthcare. Nespoli was interviewed in the Chief Leader as part of a major piece on the PBA contract dispute with the city.
Thanks to Reality Based Educator for sending this out. It is filled with important information on healthcare givebaks the city wants from all city workers including teachers. The Mr. Linn referred to is Robert Linn, the city's labor commissioner.
Mr. Nespoli during a March 27 phone interview said of the health-benefits talks, “This is definitely gonna be more difficult” than in the initial round of bargaining with the de Blasio administration, when a health-savings plan was reached four months into the Mayor’s tenure. Mr. Linn’s willingness to be flexible on where the savings came from, and to not require givebacks to be a prime element of a deal, were helpful in setting a tone, but the MLC chairman said another factor was the willingness of the new administration to negotiate after Michael Bloomberg, in his last of three terms as Mayor, adopted a stance that required the unions to offer givebacks equal to any raises they hoped to gain.
That led to settlements with Mr. de Blasio that left many union leaders unhappy regarding the raises, but important advances in fringe-benefit areas persuaded them to sign off on deals that didn’t keep pace with inflation. This time, Mr. Nespoli said, with the administration having cleared the decks of a huge back-pay obligation with unions, led by the United Federation of Teachers, that Mr. Bloomberg had left two 4-percent raises behind much of the municipal labor movement, hopes had been higher.
Cites Giveback-Free Pacts
While the prospect of cuts in Federal aid to the city has dampened those hopes somewhat, Mr. Nespoli said, “I don’t know where it’s stated that when it’s contract time, we have to pay for our own raise.”
He said regarding the 2014 health-care deal, which the PBA vigorously protested at the time, “We’ve accomplished a lot. But this round is a little different, and unions are settling across the country without any givebacks.”
Unless the city moves off its current demands that would hit union members far harder in their pockets than the initial deal did, he said, “I don’t know if we’re gonna reach an agreement” when the existing accord expires July 1. “This is unknown waters that we’re going into.”
Asked about the PBA moving this early for binding arbitration, Mr. Nespoli said, “It doesn’t surprise me at all. The city’s taking a hard stand right now, and I think they’re expecting too much.”
Told of those comments, Mr. Linn chose to echo the positive ones from the MLC leader, saying, “I would agree that we’ve accomplished a lot in health the last four years, and I expect labor and management will accomplish a lot more in the years to come.”