65-2 #34 December 16, 2002

Contract FAQs

Is the proposed contract just like the PBA's Arbitration Award? Are there any givebacks in the new 24-month agreement? When was the last time the UFA achieved a no give-back contract? Is the proposed UFA deal/contract better than the rejected Coalition agreement? What are the differences between this contract and the rejected contract? Why didn't the UFA stretch its deal for extra benefits? What are the Annual Percentage Rates (APR) of this contract and the rejected contract? Why was the focus of the 1.5% directed towards firefighters below maximum pay step? Why are we forced to calculate costs based upon December 31st, 1999 manpower levels? Can we do better? What about the 2.5% ITHP that was discussed last year? What about the Health Benefits increases discussed in the last settlement? What about CFR-D and new CFR-D benefits? Are benefits in the initial contract side-letter attachments/agreements the same? Why was merit pay added to this agreement? Why was RSOT for the Board part of this contract?

Is the proposed contract just like the PBA's Arbitration Award?
The P.B.A. was awarded the same Uniformed Coalition 30-month contract, but within a 24-month period. They received the same 5% on day-one and 5% (5.25% compounded) on the 1st day of the 13th month. Instead of receiving the 1.5% fringe benefit funds* on the 27th month, they achieved these additional 1.5% funds on the last day of the 24th month. The P.B.A. spent an estimated $6 to $7 million dollars on the arbitration proceeding. The UFA negotiated the same agreement without that expense. Although the P.B.A. has not yet reached an agreement with the City as to how its 1.5% in fringe benefit funds will be allocated, the UFA received the identical contract in base, fringe benefit value and length of contract. Another advantage is that the City voluntarily broke pattern here, whereas the City was forced to break pattern with the PERB decision for the PBA.
*also known as 'Unit Value'

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Are there any givebacks in the new 24-month agreement?
No.

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When was the last time the UFA achieved a no give-back contract?
The last no give-back contract was in the 1984-1986 agreement.

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Is the proposed UFA deal/contract better than the rejected Coalition agreement?
The Uniformed Coalition** agreement was for 30 months, with the argument that the 6-month extension (beyond 24 months) paid for additional costs to fund the 5% and 5% raises. The P.B.A. was awarded the same 10% without the 6-month extension. The Coalition was charged .14 to advance 1% to the 13th month. The values of .43% per month (example: .43% x 12 months = 5.16) funded the 5% and 5% (totaling 10.25% compounded & rounded) and 1.5% fringe benefits. Last year the UFA stretched the now rejected Coalition contract an additional 1 month and 4 days and received .47% as a result. This was formerly utilized to purchase $250.00 in longevity and $50.00 uniform allowance on the 1st day of the 31st month, which was to take effect on 12/1/01. That additional .47% resulted in the fringe benefits increasing from 1.5% to 1.97% in benefits.

Several benefits of rejecting the former Coalition contract is that no zeros were accepted and that the UFA received a 6.18% Annual Percentage Rate (APR) per year raise, as opposed to the former 4.94% (APR) per year (see Question 7). This clearly established a new historical pattern that exceeds the Coalition agreement. However, one consequence of this decision is that the additional .47% (and the resulting $250 longevity and $50 uniform) came off the table, which is based on the fact that accepting a contract that lasted an additional 7 months and 4 days and only receiving an additional .47% is economically much less valuable. Other unions stretched their contracts in exchange for extra value. The UFA and PBA did not, which clearly establishes some favorable precedent for the next round. Underscoring this reality is that fact that all the other Coalition unions have since approached Labor Commissioner Hanley requesting to modify their deals to the terms we were able to negotiate. They were all rejected.
**Includes Corrections, Sanitation, UFOA, PD Captains & Lieutenants

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What are the differences between this contract and the rejected contract?
Besides the .47% stretch described above, the former agreement utilized the additional 1.5% in fringe benefit funds for a $250.00 longevity increase, a $3 per day annuity increase, and increasing all steps below the basic maximum pay step by $400.00 on the 1st day of the 28th month.

The new agreement differs in that it increases new FF pay steps below 1st grade from $400 to $800, along with increasing their night shift differential to 90% (from 60%) after 6 months and to 100% night shift differential after one year. It also mirrors the chauffeur differential, and tillerman provisions of the rejected agreement, except that these benefits now occur three months earlier (on the last day of the 24th month.). Annuity for all members now increases by $2 per day beginning on the last day of the 24th month. Marshals and Wipers receive an additional $2 daily annuity above this, effective the same date, but are not entitled to RSOT.

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Why didn't the UFA stretch its deal for extra benefits?
There was no mandate on the City's part to stretch this deal in exchange for an additional .47%--and it didn't. It is our belief that the primary reason the City agreed to this deal was that they, like us, expected that if this negotiation went to impasse, the PBA deal would have eventually been awarded to the UFA. The UFA membership made it clear to the Executive Board that this deal and retro check were overwhelmingly preferred now, rather than facing an expected likelihood of receiving the same deal next Fall through arbitration. Responding to these realities eliminated the possibility of extending the contract for an additional .47%.

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What are the Annual Percentage Rates (APR) of this contract and the rejected contract?
The UFA deal APR is 1.24% greater than the Coalition deal APR. Includes all base, 1.5% unit value and .60% MLC health benefit increases as follows:

• UFA: 10.25 + 1.5 + .60 = 12.35%; 12.35 / 2 years = 6.18% APR • Coalition: 10.25 + 1.5 + .60 = 12.35%; 12.35 / 2.5 years = 4.94% APR

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Why was the focus of the 1.5% directed towards firefighters below maximum pay step?
New firefighters, as a result of prior settlements and arbitration awards, work more for much less money and receive fewer vacation days. This results in their total compensation package being inadequate to live on. One of the largest gripes in the field over the years is that we "should never have allowed the stretch which sells out the new FFs." The mandate was that this needed to be rectified. By increasing their steps, and returning night differential, it acknowledged and helped rectify prior agreements that placed them in such a financial hole.

Most importantly, because of the demographics of the Department, we were able to receive a better value for these members because the Department calculated costs as of December 31st, 1999, which is a snapshot in our demographics at that time (see paragraph 9). Since there were so many senior firefighters at that time, the costs of negotiating these benefits for new firefighters now was less expensive*. While some may suggest that the 1.5% in benefit funds could have been better used, we will never receive a better value in equalizing benefits. And, although hiring may briefly be slowed through this current financial crisis, new firefighters will always be hired and receive this benefit.

*see UFA document entitled 'UFA Negotiated Deal Advantages', page 2 Unit Value Cost Comparison, for clear explanations of the value differences

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Why are we forced to calculate costs based upon December 31st, 1999 manpower levels?
The same demographic snapshot formula has been used by the City for every round of negotiations for at least the past 35 years. It has no hidden meaning. It is simply a date prior to the start of the next contract round which is used to determine the demographics for analyzing the cost factors applied to items which are negotiated during fringe benefit bargaining. This cost basis has been unsuccessfully challenged on numerous occasions.

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Can we do better?
It does not appear so. Based on the precedent established by the PBA award, no one on this Executive Board, or our counsel, believes that an arbitrated award would exceed this negotiated agreement. The risk versus potential reward scenario did not seem to present any advantage for the UFA. The fact that all other Coalition unions have since requested our negotiated agreement--and were rejected--underscores this conclusion. Further supporting this position is that the Detectives Endowment Association and Sergeants Benevolent Association are currently being pushed towards arbitration in an attempt to achieve our 24-month contract. The City has taken the position that these unions must waive some retroactive pay to get the same 5% & 5% deal, although the outcome is not certain.

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What about the 2.5% ITHP that was discussed last year?
ITHP is the acronym for Increased Take Home Pay, which means exactly that. The effective start date for this benefit is October 1st 2000. This has no effect on members hired before July 1st, 1981 that have elected to remain in the original pension plan. All members of New Improved Pension Plan receive a benefit of either

(a) an approximate 50% reduction in the bi-weekly pension contribution; or

(b) for members no longer contributing on a bi-weekly basis, this additional 50% will be contributed by the City into their pension account to build an increased pension (or to offset any existing deficit).

Retroactive ITHP back to October 1st, 2000, will not be paid out in cash. It will be added as lump sum amounts directly into each individual's account.

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What about the Health Benefits increases discussed in the last settlement?
The Municipal Labor Coalition (MLC) agreement, which is negotiated on behalf of all City unions, is negotiated in concert with all other City unions separately from any individual negotiations. It had no bearing on this round, even if the UFA or the City had wanted it to. These previously negotiated $200 annual increases are for both active and retiree health benefits, and had no cost to the UFA coming out of the 1.5% in fringe benefits. The MLC agreement resulted in the same health benefit increases for all City employees, which will be paid annually to UFA member and retiree accounts upon the acceptance of this contract. Its economic value is determined to be an additional .60%, over and above all other benefits.

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What about CFR-D and new CFR-D benefits?
Pursuant to the CFR-D agreement, these payments are automatically increased by the percentage gains and will be paid retroactively. In addition, the three categories of responses that the Department added after our last negotiations (April 1998) regarding dispatching firefighters to Asthma, Assist Carry and Assist EMS entry boxes will be submitted to an arbitrator to determine whether these benefits will be added to CFR-D payments.

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Are benefits in the initial contract side-letter attachments/agreements the same?TWith the exception of a change regarding the right to work as fire safety directors within the City, the redline (as described below) and modest language adjustments, they are virtually the same.

In the new agreement, the issues regarding minimum manning redline overtime were changed and administrative overtime deferred to a Labor-Management Committee, along with several other new items. The Department insisted that circumstances supporting these issues have changed and it was resistant to granting the redline increase without major concessions. The UFA refused concessions. These issues will be in the forefront in the next contract negotiations (this new contract 'ended' May 31, 2002), while our current efforts will continue to be directed towards successfully addressing these issues in mandated Labor-Management meetings. This agreement provides that there will be two Labor-Management meetings a month, which hopefully will assist the UFA in addressing many, many controversial issues. We also gained recognition that issues regarding the firefighter safety impact from conducting AFID in high temperatures must be addressed. This issue is also referred to the Labor-Management committee.

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Why was merit pay added to this agreement?
As you may already know, Mayor Giuliani was insistent upon this proposal and virtually every agency within the City was forced to accept this benefit. While the P.B.A. resisted it, it was part of their Arbitration Award. The City made the same insistence here and since virtually no city employee has received this benefit nor is expected to receive anything at this time because of the City's fiscal crisis, we had no choice in having this provision added to the settlement. It is generally recognized among unions as an anti-labor provision allowing management to arbitrarily financially reward certain individuals over others without a uniform criterion..

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Why was RSOT for the Board part of this contract?
For years, prior boards have attempted to get RSOT for a variety of reasons, including additional compensation, the opportunity of working in the firehouse to keep in touch with issues and to avoid retraining when returning to the field. This provision was in the list of contract issues, and was not rejected by the City. There was no cost to the UFA, as it did not come out of the 1.5% fringe benefits package.

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The Executive Board would like to thank the membership for their support during this round of negotiations. We showed unity and strength by rejecting the previous Uniformed Coalition Agreement, and in negotiating a better deal. This shows how effective our rallies, ad campaign and the overall new direction have worked towards achieving our goals. The Delegate vote on this contract will take place at the January 9th union meeting. If approved, a secret voting ballot will be mailed to each UFA member’s home. Assuming this deal gets ratified, we will be without a contract since June 1st, 2002. The UFA is already preparing for what could be the toughest round of bargaining. Thanks again for the support of our membership.

Fraternally,

Stephen J. Cassidy
President