LSNYC Members Ratify 2021-2024 Union Contract

October 8, 2021

Our LSNYC members have ratified a new three year contract. With 90% of our LSNYC members participating, the contract was ratified by 80% voting yes. This 2021-2024 contract brings significant advances in salary scale equity for our lowest paid members as well as improvements in work from home, health care, reimbursements, layoff protections, and many more. Click here to read the full package that members voted on.

Financial: Our “pay equity” demand encompassed two goals:  first, to increase the salaries of our lowest-paid staff; and second, to correct disparities in step raises between different job positions. We believe that no staff member at LSNYC should make under $50,000. Under the proposal that members ratified, the lowest paid salary in our salary scale system will reach $50,000 in Year 3 of the contract (rather than Year 1 as we had hoped to achieve). We achieved a fundamental change to the structure of our salary scales that results in an average 10.8% raise in the first year of the contract for the primarily BIPOC staff on our six lowest paid pay scales. The interstep percentage increases for the five lowest-paid payscales (G through J) are being shifted to salary steps with equitable salary step increases to match the increases on Scale F and the four lowest-paid payscales will receive lump sum injections to base pay. Staff on higher pay scales received a 2% increase in the first contract year. Raises for years two and three of the CBA will be 1% across the board for all staff in year 2 and 1.75% across the board for all staff in year 3. While more equity work remains to be done, this is a significant first step and structural change that we will build on in future rounds of bargaining. We also doubled the pay bump for those staff providing interpretation and translation services over the past year from $1500 to $3000, and we achieved the ability for many members currently required to interpret or translate to opt out, something management has refused to agree to for many years.

Covid-related: The Covid pandemic heightened our focus in a number of areas. We have extended Covid bargaining – the right to bargain over Covid-related health and safety – through 2024. This provision includes the right to expedited arbitration if the parties cannot reach agreement on a Covid matter. We strengthened our office health and safety provisions. For those who suffer the death of a loved one, we increased our bereavement leave from 5 days to 7 days, and increased the number of days of annual leave that can be used to extend bereavement time.

Work From Home: At the current time, we continue to primarily be working remotely from our homes. Once our offices fully reopen post-Covid, our new CBA will grant most union members the right to work from home 5 out of every 10 workdays.

Health Care: We made a number of improvements in health care. Short term disability benefits will be increased from the state minimum of $170 a week to instead pay 40% of salary to a maximum of $1150/week. As a result, STD benefits will almost quadruple for the average member. We created a reimbursement fund for members seeking gender affirming care. We know insurance companies make access to gender affirming care difficult for TGNC people; this fund will provide $25k/year for any member’s unreimbursed care. We eliminated a discriminatory barrier to infertility benefits for LGBTQ folks, & doubled reimbursement for adoption & surrogacy costs to $25k annual/$50k lifetime to achieve reimbursement parity with our infertility benefits. We now have equity in coverage for the many ways that our members choose to create their family. We increased our fully paid parental leave from 10 to 12 weeks after six months of service and from 14 to 15 weeks paid parental leave after three years of service. Members continue to be able to add 20 days of sick leave and all accrued vacation to that parental leave time.

DEI: After 5 years of LSNYC intending to address staff retention but not doing so, we have secured an agreement that the LSNYC DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging) committee will develop a diversity outreach, hiring, and retention plan and will begin that work no later than Jan 1, 2022. Management has also committed to ensuring that all prospective candidates for hiring and promotion have a commitment to LSNYC’s DEIB mission. Finally, we added Juneteeth as a paid holiday.

Union Rights: In this contract we strengthened protections in the event of mass layoffs, and integrated those protections into the main contract so they won’t expire. Currently we only have one union member as a full time staffer for our union. All other union leaders volunteer their time on top of their day jobs. In this contract we gained the right to have a second union member work two days a week solely on union matters.

Working Groups and Open Bargaining: In this round of contract negotiations, our union team introduced two new innovations – union member working groups and open bargaining – that allowed all members to observe the bargaining process and to participate directly in the creation and decision-making around demands. We created thirteen working groups on key demands: everything from salary scale equity to interpretation to layoffs and more. Each working group developed the goal and framing of their demand, and was actively involved in decision-making on counter-proposals and strategy as bargaining progressed. For the first time ever, in this round of bargaining we held “open bargaining” sessions, where bargaining negotiation sessions were open for members to observe. Many of our five open bargaining sessions had more than 100 staff and managers in attendance. These open sessions allowed everyone to watch bargaining firsthand, helping to demystify and illuminate the bargaining process. We are proud of how adding union member working groups and open bargaining sessions strengthened and deepened participation and transparency.

We extend huge thanks to all of our members who helped us achieve this contract, from our working group members; the activism, strike, hardship, and education committees; and all of our members who attended open bargaining and shop meetings and participated in union actions. And enormous thanks to our bargaining team members: Corinthia Carter, Sami Carrillo, Jesse Daniels, Natalie Goncharov, Alex Jacobs, Chiansan Ma, Julia Rosner, Sonja Shield, and Becky Smith.