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NYC workers rally for a decent contract

By Tristin Adie | November 7, 2003 | Page 11

NEW YORK--Thousands of city workers rallied outside City Hall October 29 to demand a decent contract from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. District Council (DC) 37, which represents 125,000 city workers, is demanding raises and job security in contract negotiations with the city.

DC 37 members have been working without a contract since June 2002 and haven't received a raise in more than a year. Earning only $29,000 a year on average, many members are quick to point out that cost-of-living increases in New York--including a subway fare increase last spring and an explosion in housing costs over the past several years--have made it harder than ever to make ends meet.

Yet Mayor Bloomberg said that he would only grant wage increases if DC 37 agrees to greater productivity standards. City workers are already doing more work because the city laid off 5,000 workers in the past year.

Bloomberg is also demanding greater contributions from city workers toward their health care. This is insulting.

The city can afford to give its workers a raise and to maintain their benefits. After all, the tax breaks New York Gov. George Pataki gave to the rich total more than enough to cover a raise for city workers.

As DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts pointed out, taxes on corporations haven't been increased in 40 years. Though Roberts led the crowd in chanting, "Contract now!" throughout the protest, she has also offered to be "flexible" in coming to an agreement with the mayor.

In DC 37's own newsletter, Roberts said that "to come to an agreement there is going to have to be a lot of give and take by both sides." But the only ones doing any giving should be corporations and the rich--not city workers.

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