LSNYC Members Ratify New Contract

January 30, 2015

LSNYC members of the Legal Services Staff Association today voted to ratify a new three year contract. Significant aspects of the newly ratified agreement include:

Raises to the Wage Scale
Year 1:  4% to step 21, with 4.25% at step 25 and 4.5% at step 30
Year 2:  2.25% across the board
Year 3:  2% across the board

Additionally, all attorneys will receive a one time lump sum of $1,000 and all non-attorneys will receive a one time lump sum of$1,500.
Parental Leave
For staff who have worked at LSNYC for 3 years or more, parental leave is increased from 6 to 10 weeks. Staff who have worked 1-3 years retain 6 weeks.
Dental Coverage
Dental coverage increases from $1,500 to $3,500 per year (the maximum available through our plan).
Loan Forgiveness Fund
Increased from $60,000 to $88,000 annually
Retirement Payments
Employees who have worked for LSNYC for 25 years or more can receive $8,000 or 8% of their salary as a bonus when they retire. If these employees are laid off, they will receive more weeks of severance pay.

Translation Bump
Increased from $1250 to $1500

Workload Protections and Job Descriptions
This agreement contains a major and entirely new provision which provides workload protections for support staff. We were also able to make some improvements to the comp time provisions. We were able to eliminate the worst of the changes that management was trying to make to the executive secretary and intake paralegal job descriptions (management withdrew its demand for a paralegal advocate position).
The agreement provides a $500 salary increase for staff who are interested in taking on the newly enhanced position of executive secretary, and a $1000 salary increase for anyone choses to become a hotline paralegal or intake paralegal. All existing staff have the option to remain in their current job descriptions without any changes. Those who want to switch to the new description will be provided with training, and will then have 6 months to return to their former position if they want. Any new hires for the hotline and intake paralegal positions will be in the same classification and wage scale as existing intake officers, protecting existing intake officers from layoff unless all new hires are first laid off. Those staff currently in the combined (slashed) intake/paralegal position will remain in their current classification and wage scale.
Finally, this offer contains a grants administration position which is aimed at taking some of the administrative burden away from existing staff.
Job Protections
We gained a number of protections against some of the common ways that management undermines the collective bargaining agreement. Recall rights for laid-off employees were extended by 3 months. Managers who want to return to the bargaining unit must apply and be treated as external candidates. The union will have more notice of job postings, new temporary employees, fellows, and the creation or elimination of staff lines. We were able to incorporate some of last contract‘s side letter about layoffs into the contract, as well as some limited language about adequate staffing levels.

Wellness Fund
The offer contains a $24,000 wellness fund which can be used in a number of ways to be decided by the joint healthcare working group.

Dinner and Cab Fare
Union members who work late can be reimbursed $13 for dinner (up from $7.50) and can be reimbursed for cab fare earlier than before.

The 403b retirement committee was formally added to the contract, with a promise that the union will be included in their meetings with Valic. Management also agreed to immediately bid out our retirement contract with Valic to investigate other retirement providers. The training and OSHA committee were combined into the general labor-management committee, and the committees were mandated to meet quarterly.

1% Health Insurance Contribution
We were unfortunately not able to eliminate or reduce the 1% contribution towards health insurance. We fought long and hard for this through the final hours of negotiation.

Empire Health Insurance Coverage
We agreed to eliminate Empire as an insurance option for future employees. Although we did not want to create a two-tiered system for members, we agreed to this after much thought and in exchange for other important demands.

Early Bargaining
We agreed to start bargaining the next contract in January 2017 if health insurance costs rise significantly the year before. This is not a reopener of the contract, but rather a start date for beginning to bargain the next contract.