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Mayor de Blasio Announces Tentative Contract Agreement with Correction Officers' Benevolent Association

December 31, 2015

Contract agreement with final uniformed union brings 94 percent of workforce under settlement

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced that the City of New York has reached a tentative contract agreement with the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association (COBA), which covers over 7,000 uniformed correction officers. This agreement, which conforms to the uniformed pattern established last year, marks the final union representing the uniformed force to reach a contract and means that settlements have been reached with 94 percent of the workforce.
“New York’s boldest answer the call of duty every day, and are on the front lines as we work to ensure a safer Rikers, and a safer correction system. This contract agreement provides the fair wages they deserve, while protecting New York City’s taxpayers,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “And this means that we've settled with nearly our entire workforce – 94 percent – compared to 0 percent when this administration took office – reflecting the productive and respectful dynamic we’ve reestablished with our employees.”

“This is yet another major accomplishment for the members of COBA. COBA continues to work diligently and advocate for the best protections and benefits for our membership and their families. We are looking forward to joining with City Hall to create a better working environment, and becoming a part of reform that works on both sides," said Norman Seabrook, President of COBA. "While we continue to face obstacles this is a good way to start the new year. I would like to thank the Mayor, Commissioner and all of our members for their support.”

"We are pleased to have reached an agreement satisfactory to all parties and we look forward to working with the Correction Officers' Benevolent Association (COBA) and the Mayor to make DOC a national leader in the correction field. Our top priority is safety for staff and inmates and this long-term contract will aid us in achieving that goal. This agreement is a testament to our greatest asset: the hard working men and women of this department who will lead our reform efforts. They patiently waited for this day to arrive and this agreement stands as welcome recognition of their daily commitment to duty and professionalism while serving in one of the most difficult and demanding careers law enforcement has to offer," said Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte.
This agreement conforms to the uniformed pattern that was established in December 2014 and has shaped every uniformed contract the City has settled – including the other uniformed Correction unions. The agreement also incorporates the unprecedented health care savings agreed upon with the Municipal Labor Committee, ensuring that these raises are affordable and responsible for the City and its taxpayers.

The seven year, four month proposed contract provides for 11 percent in raises over seven years. It will begin, retroactively, on November 1, 2011 and expire on February 28, 2019.

The tentative agreement funds a lump sum payment of terminal leave for retiring employees, funded by the four-month contract extension beyond the seven years of the pattern. The agreement also would create a Review Committee to address disciplinary issues, labor-management committees to discuss issues such as uniforms, medical practices, and facilities, and a procedure through which COBA employees can request tour or location changes for child or family care reasons. 

The Department of Correction, in coordination with the Bronx District Attorney's Office, will also create a Rikers Island Central Arrest Unit to support efforts to improve safety at Rikers. The unit will build on DOC's efforts to help ensure even more effective re-arrest for aggravated harassment and assault of Correction Officers; inmate arrests have more than doubled from 50-60 a month from January through July 2015, to 100-150 a month from August through November 2015.

Finally, the City and COBA will both be supporting the disability pension State legislation that was announced with the Uniformed Firefighters Association contract in August 2015.

In total, the Municipal Labor Committee and the City have agreed to secure $3.4 billion in health care savings through Fiscal Year 2018 (starting with $400 million in FY 2015 and building up to $1.3 million in FY 2018), and $1.3 billion in recurring savings every year thereafter. These savings are focused on cost-cutting measures that, for the first time, will bend the curve of rising health care costs. The City has met its target of $400 million in savings for FY15 and is on track to meet the FY16 target of $700 million. These savings are guaranteed and enforceable by arbitration.

Fair Wages

The tentative contract agreement is consistent with the established uniformed pattern. Wage increases will constitute 11 percent over seven years and four months:

November 1, 2011 – 1.00%
December 1, 2012 – 1.00%
January 1, 2014 – 1.00%
February 1, 2015 – 1.00%
March 1, 2016 – 1.50%
March 1, 2017 – 2.50%
March 1, 2018 – 3.00%
Affordable Costs

The cost of today’s tentative agreement across the Financial Plan (through FY 2019) is consistent with the uniformed pattern and already reflected in the budget:

Gross Cost: $364.7 million
Health Savings and Stabilization Fund: ($117.8 million)
Net Cost: $246.9 million

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