New York City Local 246

Service Employees International Union, AFL-CIO, CLC

Auto Mechanic Shortage Puts New Yorkers At Risk During Winter Storms

When the next blizzard hits the city, there won’t be enough Auto Mechanics to do the hard work of keeping the Sanitation Department’s trucks and snow equipment up and running.

That’s the message Local 246 President Joe Colangelo has been sending for years on behalf of his overworked members to DCAS and Fleet Management — but they aren’t listening.

The City has made DSNY Auto Mechanics responsible for an ever-increasing amount of snow equipment like salt spreaders and plow trucks, but has refused to hire adequate personnel to keep up with the workload. Colangelo said City records indicate there were 577 pieces of equipment in 2013 that fell under the purview of Local 246 members, but nearly double that just four years late with 1,037 in 2017. The problem is that the manpower needed to operate, maintain, and repair this equipment has not even come close to keeping up. As Local 246 started pointing out years ago, the industry standard calls for a 7-to-1 ratio of equipment to Auto Mechanics at a bare minimum; yet, the ratio at the Department of Sanitation is twice that level. Even Sanitation officials agree that the problem has peaked.

President Joe Colangelo has been doing interviews with the media on the situation. To read the stories, you can click on the following links:

Snowpocalypse now: City dangerously unprepared for next blizzard, says mechanics’ union leader

Unions Warn Mechanic Shortage Puts City at Risk From Winter Storms

Mechanics Union: Snow Light Yet 10% Of City Salt-Spreaders Broke Down

Retiree Dues for 2020

Retirees’ annual dues for 2020 should be sent to the Union office no later than January 31, 2020. Please make your check or money order payable to NYC Local 246, and send to 217 Broadway Suite 501, New York, NY 10007 in the amount of $60. The amount is nominal and just covers the per capita and dues mailings. Once received, retirees will be mailed a 2020 membership card.

Back Pay Dates Confirmed

The Back Pay date for our recently ratified contracts for Mayoral Agencies is confirmed for 11/29/2019 for Sheet Metal and Supv. Sheet Metal Worker, Letterer & Sign Painter, Carriage Upholsterer, Rubber Tire Repairer, Auto Mechanics et. al. and Auto Service Workers et.al. For NYCHA members, the confirmed Back Pay date is 11/21/2019. The Union is awaiting the Back Pay Date for all other Non-Mayoral Agencies, CUNY, Department of Education (DOE), and H+H.

Members who want to change their New York City Deferred Compensation Contribution to capture the 11/21/2019 and the 11/29/2019 paychecks with the back pay, must do so before October 18th due to the fact that OLR will have a “blackout/transition” period from Tuesday, November 5 at 4:00 p.m., EST, and end on or about Monday, November 11th. As soon as updates become available for members in the Non-Mayoral Agencies, CUNY, Department of Education (DOE), and H+H, we will notify everyone.

Benefit Improvements to Active & Retiree Funds

Due to the diligence of the trustees of both the Active and Retiree Welfare Funds, both funds continue to do well financially, which has allowed trustees to make improvements for all members and retirees.

The Active Welfare Fund will be providing an out-of-pocket reimbursement after each fiscal year. Providers for prescription, dental, and optical will submit a file to the Union’s third party Administrator A.S.O. and the trustees will evaluate the total out-of-pocket amount to be reimbursed per member annually.

The Retiree Welfare Fund will be increasing the prescription drug cap for each Retiree group Non-Medicare Member and Dependent from $3,000 combined to $5,000. The prescription drug cap for Medicare Retirees will increase from $3,500 to $5,000, and for their dependents, from $500 to $1,500. The effective dates for all changes are to be determined once we receive clarification from attorneys for the Funds regarding compliance with the Affordable Care Act law notification guidelines.

Union Works to Settle Open Contracts with the City

As with most unions in New York City, contracts are long expired and officials are working now to negotiate new deals. The same holds true for Local 246 who held its most recent negotiation with City representatives on March 18.

With the DC 37 citywide contract resolved and approved, the Local 246 Contract Negotiating Committee has been in talks on the Union’s nine separate contracts for many months. In addition to the Union’s officers, Committee members include Rich Mazze representing Rubber Tire Repairers; Alex Soltanis representing Sign Painters/Letterers; Mark Bardes representing Sheet Metal Workers; and the general committee representing Carriage Upholsterers and Auto Service Workers.

Since the Union holds a joint bargaining certificate with IUOE Local 15 for Tractor Operators and Motor Grader Operators, a separate meeting was held with members in those titles on March 12 to update them on the status of those contract talks. The consensus of most 220 titles is that the ever-increasing pension costs now reported to be 34% or more will make it very difficult to negotiate a prevailing rate match with the private sector contracts.

President Joe Colangelo talked in depth about the contract negotiations at the March membership meeting. “We are almost finished with several contracts, and we have made significant progress on others. We don’t want to give out any specific details yet as amounts may fluctuate and change as we try to finalize everything,” he told members.

Since the previous negotiation meeting was December 11, 2018, and it took almost three months to get the meeting in March, Colangelo said the Negotiating Committee sent a list of unanswered questions to OLR representatives so they could already have answers by the time both parties met. “They did get back to us on most questions, but there are still some hanging out there that we don’t have answers to,” he said. “I am hoping to have everything wrapped up within a month or two, but when you are dealing with negotiations, you never know. It may take longer depending on what answers come back from some of the agencies.”

Current contracts expired as follows: Rubber Tire Repairer, July 16, 2017; Sign Painter/Letterer, July 25, 2017; Auto Service Worker et al (Oil Burner Specialist, Auto Body Worker, and Marine Maintenance Mechanics), December 7, 2017; Auto Mechanics and Machinists, October 1, 2017; Carriage Upholsterers, July 16, 2017; and Sheet Metal Workers, February 17, 2018. Members in all titles have been working under the terms of those contracts, and any new monies negotiated as part of the new contracts will begin the day after the previous contracts expired.

“For all contracts, the raises start the first day of the new contract, meaning everyone will have back money owed to them,” Colangelo said. “In addition, all raises are compounded, which means that when you get the second 2.25 percent raise, it is calculated on top of the first 2 percent raise. The final salary increase will be on top of the 4.25 percent. That raises the value of the overall contract. We are hoping that this will all be wrapped up fairly shortly and when all contracts are done, we will be able to provide the specifics.”

Adding Less Skilled Workers Will Diminish Maintenance

The leader of the union that represents Auto Mechanics and Auto Service Workers who service the municipal motor fleet is concerned that the Department of Citywide Administrative Services is planning to create a ratio between the two titles as a cost-containment measure that he believes will reduce the quality of the repair work and slow it down.

“I am hearing rumblings about a new initiative out of DCAS’s Office of Fleet Services to create a set ratio of Auto Mechanics to what’s called an Auto Service Worker, which is like a Mechanic Helper title,” Joseph Colangelo, president of Service Employees International Union Local 246, said in an interview in his office. Read More

New Non-Economic Agreement Addresses Union Concerns

A new non-economic agreement reached between the Union and the City of New York puts in place several changes that address concerns impacting members.

Local 246 President Joe Colangelo said the non-economic agreement, which is negotiated separately from the contracts, deals with issues such as dues checkoffs, grievance procedures, overtime, transfers, working conditions, and safety. “With changing duties and evolving responsibilities of our members, we have run into several issues during the last contract term that needed to be addressed prior to starting current negotiations,” he said. “Once something is added to the non-economic agreement it becomes a grievable item, which gives our members added protection.”

While there were several new items added, Colangelo said the most significant are:

  • Temporary transfers that are limited to a period of not more than 30 calendar days, will now be limited to no more than two per employee per year
  • All vacancies that are being posted must include shift start and end times so applicants know exactly what position they are applying for
  • All road call vehicles shall be equipped with all necessary safety devices, including emergency lights and (where necessary and practicable) traffic deflection lights; flares and/or safety triangles; safety vest; radio; cones; and spill absorbent
  • Where an employee is working alone, such as in a confined space or an isolated location, the employer shall account for each employee at reasonable intervals appropriate to the job assignment to ensure the employee’s safety. Where sight is not practicable, the employee shall be provided a device capable of being used for emergency communication.
  • The City agrees to take all necessary steps to safeguard all tools and tool cabinets brought on its property by the members of Local 246 in the titles covered by this agreement

What makes this non-economic agreement stand out, Colangelo said, is that it’s the first time in almost four decades that he has been involved with the Local that a side letter has been attached to the document. In the Department of Sanitation, members will now be provided with prior notification regarding non-emergency overtime.

Colangelo said this side letter was crucial as members were not being given sufficient notice of required overtime and were therefore unable to arrange and rearrange personal schedules to accommodate the overtime hours. Any members with questions about the new non-economic agreement should be in touch with their Shop Steward.

City Agrees to Unlimited Sick Leave for All Employees Suffering from 9/11 Illnesses

More than 17 years after the devastating attacks of September 11, the City of New York is finally granting unlimited sick time to all workers suffering from 9/11-related illnesses.
At the end of October, the City bowed to pressure brought by 9/11 survivor advocates and promised to secure unlimited sick time to all City employees who helped in the rescue and recovery efforts in Ground Zero — and now are paying for it with their lives. Unions were at the forefront of making sure that all these City employees were put on the same footing as first responders, police officers, and firefighters.

The City, DC 37, and EMS unions Local 3621 and 2507 negotiated the terms that will provide unlimited 9/11 sick leave to City workers who participated in World Trade Center rescue, recovery and cleanup operations and contracted a 9/11-related illness. The initial agreement grants unlimited 9/11 sick leave to employees in a range of titles across several City agencies, including Emergency Medical Technicians, peace officers, laborers, engineers, and others. This sick leave is retroactive to September 11, 2001, and leave taken since then that has been verified to cope with a certified 9/11-related illness will be restored. It is estimated that approximately 2,000 active employees will be covered by this agreement, which formed the basis for additional agreements with other unions.

Local 246 President Joe Colangelo said after that agreement was reached, he contacted the City to make sure that Local 246 members would be included as well if they qualify.
Several months ago, Colangelo testified at a Senate hearing in NYC about 9/11 sick leave. “I am here today to talk about a subject that is heart wrenching but cannot be avoided. Everyone knows the horror that happened on September 11, 2001. As the years passed, some of the individuals who participated in the cleanup and recovery developed a variety of illnesses related to their work. Most uniform employees have unlimited sick leave as part of their contract, affording them peace of mind as they fight through whatever illnesses they face. Unlimited sick leave would provide their families and loved ones with some semblance of financial stability while they focus on their health.

“Unfortunately for civilian workers, the same is not true. Most civilian worker contracts allow, in most cases, 12 sick leave days per year. Therefore, if they are battling through a 9/11 illness, they will exhaust their sick leave accruals rather quickly and then face financial difficulty. If civilian members were afforded unlimited sick leave, they then can take care of their health knowing that there will be no change in the family finances. Choosing between health and financial security should not be a choice anyone has to make, especially considering the circumstances.”

Just recently, Local 246 received a letter of agreement from OLR Commissioner Robert Linn stating, “This serves to confirm our mutual understanding regarding a WTC 9/11 line of duty injury/illness benefit. All Local 246, Service Employees International Union, AFL CIO members employed by the City and other covered organizations shall receive the benefit set forth in the October 23, 2018 letter agreement between the City of New York and DC 37, pursuant to all terms and conditions set forth therein.”

Colangelo said that many City employees who were sickened by Ground Zero fumes have been forced to choose between retiring in order to deal with their health, or continue working as they battled terminal cancer. He said that now all union members and non-represented employees who meet the qualifications will receive the benefit.

“We hope this is a benefit that very few people have to take advantage of, but knowing that it is available should it become an issue is reassuring,” Colangelo said.

Last year, Gov. Cuomo signed a bill granting unlimited paid sick leave to state employees with a 9/11-related illness outside of New York City — but the City did not follow suit.

“We are happy that this has finally been resolved,” Colangelo said. “Even within our own union, we have had members pass away from 9/11-related illnesses. The events from that horrific day will be lingering for quite some time.”

Free Practice Questions for Auto Mechanic Exam

Members who are scheduled to take the upcoming Auto Mechanic exams can take free practice tests to see what type of questions appear on an ASE auto mechanic certification exam.  These questions are not provided by Local 246 but are being shared as a means of providing members with a useful study guide. Click here to see the exams.

Deadline Extended for New Claims Related to 9/11 Rescue, Recovery & Clean-Up

Just days before the September 11, 2018, deadline for workers and volunteers to file a Notice of Participation was set to expire, Governor Andrew Cuomo put his signature on a new law that further extends the filing deadline until September 11, 2022.

“It has been 17 years since the attacks of September 11 changed our world forever, and on that day and the weeks and months that followed, thousands of courageous workers and volunteers put their lives on the line to save others,” Cuomo said. “We will never forget the selfless heroes who did not make it home that day, and we owe first responders and those who aided in the recovery effort an eternal debt of gratitude. This bill rightly and fairly provides 9/11’s brave recovery workers and volunteers the time they need to receive the health benefits and compensation they deserve.”

Previously, the Governor signed legislation on September 11, 2016, to extend the period for individuals to register under the World Trade Center Disability Law to September 11, 2018. This new bill (S.7797-A/A.10499) will allow more individuals additional time to file for Workers’ Compensation, disability, and accidental death benefits as a result of their participation in the World Trade Center rescue, recovery, and clean-up operations. The legislation, which takes effect immediately, also protects claims filed on or before September 11, 2022, if the volunteer or workers’ disability occurred between September 11, 2015 and September 11, 2017. Local 246 members are covered by this new law.

In a press release, Governor Cuomo said he strongly encourages all 9/11 responders to consider using the World Trade Center Health Program for both treatment and monitoring of their health. Responders are seen at the clinics by experts in the field, without charge. This program, also known as the Zadroga Act, is administered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has been funded by the Federal government for 75 years. In addition to treating illnesses, the clinics begin monitoring the health of responders. Services are available at many Clinical Centers of Excellence in New York City, Long Island and New Jersey, as well as through a nationwide network of providers. For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/wtc.

Registering simply preserves your right down the road to file a claim if you should become sick with a 9/11-related illness and get the benefits to which you would be entitled. “Registering now does not mean you are currently sick or that you will become sick. Registering is just another form of insurance for the unknown, like major medical insurance or car insurance. You may go a whole lifetime without needing to ever file a claim, but you will be glad you have them if you need them.

For more information on filing a notice of participation, please visit www.wcb.ny.gov/content/main/forms/wtc-12.pdf

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