Jail guards in New York City are set to receive an 11 percent pay increase by 2018 under a tentative deal struck with the de Blasio administration, the mayor’s office disclosed on New Year’s Eve.
The agreement comes as city jails like Rikers Island are under intense scrutiny by federal prosecutors, who said last year that frequent brutality is bred at Rikers by a “deep-seated culture of violence.”
What was announced Thursday provides for back pay dating to 2011, when the last contract expired, and stretches raises over several years, with the contract expiring Feb. 28, 2019.
“This contract agreement provides the fair wages they deserve, while protecting New York City’s taxpayers,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.
Before overtime, guards covered by the deal now make an average $69,574, and by contract’s end are set to earn $77,583, according to de Blasio spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick.
The 11 percent raise given to the guards adheres to the latest pattern controlling how much more other uniformed city workers earn, such as police officers and firefighters. The rank-and-file union for NYPD officers, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, tried to get more, but failed to convince a neutral arbitrator that the cops deserve higher raises.
The deal must be ratified by the 7,000-member Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, the city’s largest guard labor union. If greenlighted, 94 percent of the city’s unionized workforce will be working under settled contracts — up from none in 2014, when de Blasio took office.
The union and its powerful president, Norman Seabrook, have criticized the de Blasio administration’s plans to address violence at the jails. In November, he led a protest at the City Hall in which he assailed the mayor.
“Let the message be absolutely clear,” Seabrook thundered at the protest, according to Politico New York. “In 2017 there will be a mayoral election in this city and you better shape up or ship out.”
According to the contract-announcing news release, the agreement sets up a new committee “to address disciplinary issues,” as well as a “Rikers Island Central Arrest Unit”; guards have complained that inmates who commit crimes while locked up aren’t properly prosecuted.
The gross cost for the raises is $364.7 million more, and $246.9 million when offset by promised health care savings.
Asked for a copy of the tentative agreement, Spitalnick said, “We don’t provide that until it’s ratified.”