Post Editorial Board
Sunday, November 3, 2019
A BAD Sign For The Drive To Save NYCHA
Post Editorial Board
In a big step backward for the city Housing Authority, a judge this month blocked it from scheduling night and weekend hours for building caretakers, supervisors and other staff.
The temporary restraining order came from a fill-in judge, pending a hearing on Teamsters Local 237’s claims that NYCHA hadn’t held up its end of the deal that allowed the off-hours shifts, endangering the workers. Happily, the regular judge held that hearing last week and nixed the restraining order. But the union’s not done fighting.
The labor contract settled in January seemed a huge breakthrough: For the first time, it allowed work schedules with shifts other than Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Alternative work scheduling would, for example, let tenants set up badly needed repairs without having to take time off from their jobs.
AWS has been rolled out to 52 housing developments, en route to being live agencywide by early next year — but the holdup threatened the rollout to the next 38 projects.
This work-rule change looked like a win for workers as well as tenants, since it led to 200 new hires plus 23 new supervisor jobs to cover the new shifts. But Greg Floyd, the Local 237 prez, claims management is violating the Memorandum of Understanding that went along with the deal. It required the union’s safety concerns to be addressed before AWS is fully implemented, but he says management hasn’t acted on poorly lit public areas, broken building-entrance locks and other safety hazards in projects where AWS is to start.
“NYCHA has a history of missed deadlines, be it with the feds, tenants or the special monitor,” Floyd told The Post.
NYCHA notes that the MOU specified that safety issues be “addressed by the labor-management committee” — not by the union going to court.
Yet the union has filed another grievance with the city’s Office of Collective Bargaining, alleging that NYCHA “ignored a previous agreement to stop scheduling” evening hours for housing managers after Labor Day.
No one is sure why Local 237 is suddenly balking. Its members were volunteering for the flexible hours that required some to report at 6 a.m. and others to work till 7 p.m, with managers leaving at 7:30 on Wednesdays.
Flexible shifts are a very visible sign that the embattled public-housing agency is capable of change — but the holdup suggests that maybe it isn’t. Either the union’s being ridiculous or management’s failing again — maybe both. But if management and labor can’t work together to make basic reforms like this work, NYCHA is doomed.