After years of being grossly under-valued, City Council staff organized what is now the largest union of legislative employees in the U.S. Through their new union, staff are negotiating a historic first contract with City Council leadership.
ALE is urging Speaker Adrienne Adams to finally make the Council a living wage employer. As contract negotiations continue, our demands are centered around fair treatment and fair compensation. We are calling for sustainable salaries, overtime compensation, an end to firings without cause, and tougher protections against bullying and harassment.
Staff are seeking fairness from an institution that prides itself on its progressive values. Council Member Aides are public sector employees, and a large number of them provide direct services to NYC residents, yet they earn significantly less than other City workers performing the same functions and do not have the same workplace protections.
"In her State of the City address, the Speaker called for creating 'living wage jobs' through collaboration between the City and the State," said ALE President Daniel Kroop at a May 2023 rally. "We believe the Council can also create decent paying jobs. Like the City’s budget, the Council’s budget is a statement of values. What better way to put progressive values into action than by paying your own staff fairly?"
ALE's Core Demands:
An overtime compensation plan so that no staffer is forced to work for free – based on DC 37’s existing contract for the city’s public servants.
Salary minimums which provide a sustainable living wage in NYC, are competitive with City agencies, and recognize staff who provide invaluable services in languages besides English.
An end to “at will” employment by establishing official grievance and disciplinary policies with clear & consistent standards for all staff.
Tougher protections against harassment & bullying on the job -- including the creation of an independent Office of Conflict Resolution (OCR), with labor and management representatives, and an anonymous hotline to report abuse.
ALE has striven to create a set of demands that are realistic and reasonable. The City Council sets its own budget and a detailed analysis by the union shows that salary increases, for example, can be provided with relatively minimal impact on the Council's finances. ALE's proposal for overtime compensation is similar to that of DC 37's, New York City's largest public employee union.
High levels of staff turnover, on the other hand, have hidden but long-term costs. The ongoing staff exodus from the City Council directly impacts the body's overall functionality and level of service to the public. An analysis by the State Comptroller found that the Council's staff vacancy rate was almost 6 times that of the average City agency between Fiscal Years 2012 and 2020.
Why are staff leaving the City Council?
Pay – 45% of Council Member Aides earn less than $55K annually, as living costs soar.
Lack of compensation for overtime – staff work long hours, logging an average of 600 hours annually on top of their standard work week. Council staff are some of the only public sector workers in New York City without a comprehensive overtime policy.
Lack of stability – Staff can be fired on the spot, for no cause. The Council lacks a comprehensive and clear policy for disciplinary & other workplace issues. Other City employees have the dignity and stability provided by an official grievance policy.
Council staff have been joined in their efforts by a growing wave of labor support. The New York City Central Labor Council, made up of 300 local unions which collectively represent 1.3 million public and private sector workers, has signed on to a public letter to "urge the Speaker and all Council Members to support ALE’s pursuit of a strong and comprehensive first contract." Twenty other individual unions and locals have also signed on to the letter.
If you are interested in supporting ALE at the bargaining table, please contact us here!