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Next Mayor Will Be Left To Tackle Unsettled Union Contracts

'It's Imperative That We Get Ahead Of The Curve,' One Union Leader Says
City Hall in Lower Manhattan (file / credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

City Hall in Lower Manhattan (file / credit: Evan Bindelglass / CBSNewYork)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — One of the pressing issues facing the next mayor of New York City will be unsettled union contracts for city workers.

As WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported Saturday, the unions said they plan to be knocking on the new mayor-elect’s door the very minute the votes are tallied.

“Unions have behind the 8-ball,” said Norman Seabrook, president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association. “We’re two years without a contract.”

Seabrook said time is of the evidence.

“I’d start that conversation immediately,” he said, “because I think it’s imperative that we get ahead of the curve.”

Seabrook and his union have endorsed Democrat Bill de Blasio over Republican Joe Lhota.

“I know Bill De Blasio,” he said. “What you see is what you get with Bill. There’s nothing to feel out.”

But Seabrook said he wants things ready for January when the next mayor takes office. He said 2014 is the year a deal must get done.

Nearly 300,000 city employees have been working under expired labor contracts for years. Many unions that could not strike a deal with Mayor Michael Bloomberg have asked the city’s next leader to implement retroactive pay raises, which could cost taxpayers up to $7 billion.

Bloomberg has said repeatedly that streamlining the budget and increasing workers’ pay retroactively across the board are mutually exclusive goals.

“You just can’t walk in and say, ‘We’re going to cut waste – there may be some waste, I’m sure there is – but it’s tiny.’ We’re talking about billions and billions of dollars here, and you don’t find that kind of waste. ‘And, well, I’m going to find efficiencies’ – I wish you could,” the mayor said back in May. “You go and negotiate with unions that will not give up their pension funds or their health benefits.”

Plain and simple, Bloomberg said in May, the city cannot afford it.

Moreover, Bloomberg said, pay increases should be tied to productivity – and productivity cannot be increased retroactively.

“You can’t get retroactive productivity increases, so there should not be retroactive savings,” he said. “I don’t know of any business; I don’t know of any of our taxpayers who get retroactive raises. The truth of the matter is a lot of our taxpayers have suffered from being laid off.”

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