Late yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg announced a two-year labor agreement with District Council 37, New York City’s largest public-sector union. The agreement is a missed opportunity for the city, which stands on the brink of what could be an unprecedented drop-off in tax revenues and a long economic retrenchment.
I’ve got an op-ed up at City Journal explaining exactly why the deal, which requires $370 million in new spending, is a missed opportunity. First, it locks in higher long-term costs for more than 100,000 employees just as New York’s tax revenues — and even overall consumer prices — could actually fall.
Second, the deal means that Bloomberg has likely lost the last chance in his second term to wring even modest long-term concessions on benefits costs from a major civilian union.
Consider: asking public employees and retirees to pay just 10 percent of their own health-insurance premiums would save New York nearly half a billion dollars annually, according to the Independent Budget Office.
DC-37, because its workers are civilians and not first responders, would be a good place to start negotiating for such savings. Its workers’ jobs are comparable to jobs in the private sector, which almost invariably requires such payments from employees.