City budget is balanced, but tough union contract negotiations loom

M ayor Bloomberg’s balanced budget miracle may not help city workers looking  for a raise.

Bloomberg announced last week that he is leaving Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio  with a balanced budget. The projected $2 billion gap no longer exists.

Virtually every city worker is laboring under an expired contract. While  union leaders will be looking to broker new pacts, they will also be trying to  recoup retroactive pay.

Bloomberg has continuously said there is no money for large raises or retro  pay. He reiterated that on Thursday during his budget announcement, saying that  pay could only be funded by “a very big revenue source that is not apparent on  the horizon.”

“You could close all firehouses and give all the money to raises for cops,”  he said. “I wouldn’t suggest doing that.”

Union leaders have rejected Bloomberg’s bargaining plan, which includes lots  of zeros and two years of raises less than 2%.

Harry Nespoli, chair of the Municipal Labor Committee, said the budget plan  is “misleading.”

“It is like a homeowner developing a budget without counting the mortgage as  an expense,” said Nespoli. “Since 2009 the city has not changed its offer. Since  that time two things have happened: inflation has increased and city employee  wages remained the same.”

Labor expert Richard Steier, editor of the Chief-Leader and author of the new  book, “Enough Blame to Go Around,” said he can’t remember a time that so many  city contracts went unresolved for such a long period of time.

“That is unprecedented,” he said.

Steier said the future of some labor contracts hinges on pending arbitration  between the New York State Nurses Association and the city due in the  spring.

The nurses and several other unions were left out of the last round of  raises dating back six years ago where many workers received 4% raises.


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