July 17, 2006

NYC’s biggest union, mayor announce new contract

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
and the city's biggest union on Monday announced a preliminary
new contract that will give 100,000 employees a 10 percent pay
hike and cost the city about $420 million.

The contract, if ratified, will run just over 32 months,
from July 1, 2005 to March 2, 2008.

Many of the deal's terms were revealed last week, and some
fiscal monitors accused the Republican mayor of not getting
city workers to work harder and accept less generous health and
retirement plans.

Bloomberg told reporters that the city still benefits from
previous contracts cutting workers and relaxing sometimes
restrictive work rules. It also becomes more difficult to boost
productivity after achieving gains, he added.

"It's just a question of how much you can reasonably expect
our work force to do," Bloomberg said.

Further, state law forbids the city from negotiating
pensions at the same time as contracts, the mayor said, adding
the union agreed to discuss this big expense separately.

New York City has already budgeted for all but about $80
million of the new accord's cost, Bloomberg said, adding that
he will seek similar terms from the city's other unions.

"Fundamentally, there is a labor history in this city that
people tend to move in lock-step and I don't see any reason why
that wouldn't continue," he said.