Campion did an extensive interview with the Chief Leader civil service newspaper that every city employee should read.
Here is what the Chief and Campion said about the UFT pattern setting contract in 2014:
When Mr. de Blasio took office at the beginning of 2014 and tapped Mr. Linn to return as his chief negotiator—a job he had last held in 1989 under Mayor Ed Koch—the dynamic changed. But where being unable to have meaningful contract talks with the unions had a numbing effect, the backlog that built up as a result had an intimidating one. As Ms. Campion put it, “The idea of negotiating everything was sort of crushing.”
UFT Deal Opened Gates
But she said Mr. Linn assured his top aides at OLR that they would be able to work through the mass of long-expired contracts and the daunting back-pay obligations that had piled up. “And when we came out on the other side of that and had a nine-year deal with the UFT, it felt good,” she said. Deals quickly followed with two of the other unions that hadn’t been included under the pay pattern set back in 2007—NYSNA and Local 1199, the giant health-care workers union within the Service Employees International Union that had a small public-sector division.
That cleared the decks for deals with other unions pegged to the longer agreement with the UFT that over its final seven years granted raises below the inflation rate to cushion the impact of the huge amounts of back pay that had accumulated for Teachers.
“We are all sort of on the same side: we have to balance the needs of the taxpayers with the needs of the workers,” Ms. Campion said.I'm glad our union is on the same side as the city. The taxpayers did just fine as this analysis from the Independent Budget Office shows that the UFT backpay obligation through 2020 (we're still waiting for half of the back pay for work we did in 2009-11) is going to end up costing the city around $500 million in total which isn't much considering the city budget now is over $92 billion and the DOE alone spent $773 million on the failed Renewal Schools program since 2014.
Looking back, it is pretty obvious the city could have afforded to pay us the money we worked for from 2009-2011 back when de Blasio took office in 2014 and still had enough to pay us salary increases that kept up with inflation. It didn't happen in either case but I shouldn't be critical of UFT President Michael Mulgrew because of Janus (sarcasm alert all over the last statement).
As for healthcare, our warnings about the unspecified givebacks that were voted on in the current contract are still a concern.
From The Chief:
It was during Mr. de Blasio’s first year in office that Mr. Linn also reached the health-benefits deal that would save the city $3.4 billion over his first term. She is now looking for $1.1 billion in recurring annual savings in new health-benefit talks with the unions. While a less-ambitious target, it might be harder to reach because the two sides have already used many of the more-obvious ideas available, from encouraging city employees to use primary-care physicians and clinics rather than relying on emergency-room visits to wellness programs aimed at promoting healthier eating and lifestyle practices.
“The bar is higher and higher; it does get more complicated,” Ms. Campion said. Martin Scheinman, a veteran arbitrator and mediator who initially was deployed five years ago to settle differences on the extent of the savings being offered to the city under union proposals, is now part of a tripartite panel designed to jointly develop new areas of savings.
We'll see what the savings are. Most of the municipal unions, especially ours, are certainly on the same side as the city.