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NYC’s Public Health Network Agrees to Convert Many Temps to FT Jobs

Photo Credit: Phil Fisk
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By Diane S. Williams, DC 37 Worth the Fight Workers' Rights

After months of intense negotiations, the union has inked a deal with NYC Health + Hospitals (NYC H+H) that sharply curbs the agency’s reliance on temporary agency workers to do jobs that should be performed by unionized, full-time employees.

“This is a long-fought, major victory for the union and its members that potentially affects thousands of workers and corrects years of economic injustices,” said Henry Garrido, executive director of District Council 37 (New York). “This settlement  … establishes a real career path where there was none for many who were sidelined as temps but were, in some cases, assigned to work full-time hours and even overtime, though H+H never afforded them opportunities or upgrades to become full-time workers with the full range of benefits that come with being a unionized employee of the City of New York.”

NYC H+H’s overuse of temporary workers – many of whom have worked a decade or longer – was “a widespread problem that undermined the civil service career track,” said Local 1549 President Eddie Rodriguez, “and denied workers an opportunity to climb the economic ladder to the middle class.”

“For years, union reps, researchers and lawyers initiated grievances and improper-practice lawsuits to block the excessive and unjust use of temps,” said Sallie Stallings, a Hospitals Council representative who filed dozens of grievances that led to the settlement.

Still, managers at NYC H+H hospitals, long-term care facilities and clinics kept hundreds of temp workers on staff.

“Unless the union intervened with legal measures, NYC H+H never offered full-time employment to these workers,” said Local 420 President Carmen Charles. “It kept the headcount artificially low. But we weren’t having it.”

Full-time NYC H+H employees receive full pension credit, annual leave and sick leave and other benefits temporary agency workers don’t get.

The new agreement, reached in late June, affects dietary aides, service aides, nurse’s aides, patient care technicians, clerical workers and others who joined together under Locals 420 and 1549. As per the agreement, NYC H+H must first offer full-time positions to per diem, part-time and hourly workers who are DC 37 members and are seeking per annum status with full employment benefits.

The settlement requires NYC H+H to review its payroll to convert or eliminate existing temporary positions filled by workers who for six months or longer are in job categories DC 37 represents. It allows NYC H+H to use temporary workers only in certain circumstances such as to cover a leave of absence, fill difficult or hard-to-recruit positions, or during unanticipated emergencies.

The pact mandates that NYC H+H provide staffing information to the union and meet quarterly with union leaders to ensure that the agency is complying with the tenets of agreement.