ALE PRESS ROOM
ASSOCIATION OF LEGISLATIVE EMPLOYEES (ALE) BECOMES LARGEST LEGISLATIVE STAFF UNION IN THE NATION
Nearly 400 NYC Council Member Aides Win Union Recognition from the City Council and Office of Collective Bargaining; Join ALE Finance Analysts in Central Staff
ALE Prepares to Adopt Constitution, Elect Leadership, and Bargain a First Contract While Continuing Its Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Return to Offices
NEW YORK, NY -- After nearly a decade of grassroots organizing by NYC Council staff, the Association of Legislative Employees (ALE) has become the largest legislative staff union in the country. Today, ALE members were joined outside City Hall by allies to announce their victory and share plans for their next steps ahead as an independent union.
On Friday, August 13, the Office of Collective Bargaining certified ALE as the collective bargaining agent for 356 Council Member Aides, a number that is expected to grow once the new Council is seated in early 2022. Council staff began organizing a union card campaign in November 2019, and formed an entirely new union to advocate for consistent workplace standards across all offices, fairer wages, and better channels to raise and address grievances on behalf of Council staff. The Council Member Aides now join a total of 21 Financial Analysts and Senior Financial Analysts in the Council’s Central Staff Finance Division as union members represented by ALE.
ALE announced that its members will vote on and adopt a union constitution by the end of September. Members will then elect an executive board and shop stewards for each title and office represented by ALE in October and November. Throughout this time, ALE will gather feedback from members and prepare to bargain for the City Council staff union’s first-ever collective bargaining agreement with the City of New York.
The unionization of Member Aides is especially notable given all the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning in March 2020, City Council staff swiftly shifted to remote work, continuing to serve the people of New York City during a time of great crisis. Indeed, several Member Aides contracted COVID and one died from complications of the disease in 2020.
During this period of illness, trauma and grief, ALE was forced to carry out a second union card campaign because cards from the first campaign had expired during the pandemic. Despite all the challenges of organizing remotely, a clear majority of Member Aides again signed cards. The union then strongly advocated for the City Council to pass Resolution 1608 in April 2021, which paved the way for submission and certification of the voluntary recognition petition allowing ALE to represent staff.
Throughout the last 18 months, Member Aides have tirelessly provided a wide range of direct services to constituents in need, and a number of constituent offices have been open to the public since last summer. Member Aides have also helped to ensure full continuation of the City Council’s legislative and public policy operations, and quickly moved to organize virtual public hearings, briefings, and town halls. The Finance Division’s unionized analysts have helped the Council pass two on-time, balanced budgets of nearly $100 billion.
Earlier this summer, former Governor Cuomo lifted the COVID-19 emergency executive order and reinstated the requirement that government meetings be open to the public in-person. Council staff now face two competing challenges: following the legal mandate to hold public meetings, while also protecting the health and well-being of constituents and staff. The highly contagious Delta variant and breakthrough cases further complicates how to safely approach in-person activities and office reopenings.
With 58% of New York City’s population now fully vaccinated, ALE has begun negotiations with the Speaker’s office, the Council’s Office of General Counsel, and Council Administrative Services for a safe, phased-in office reopening plan. Such a plan must address the needs and expectations of all staff to safely continue their ongoing service to the public at City Hall, 250 Broadway, and in the 51 District Offices.
Today, ALE union members held an in-person rally with necessary COVID-19 precautions to celebrate this historic achievement of former, current and future staff winning an organized voice in their workplace.
“Congratulations to my co-workers on winning our groundbreaking union recognition! We worked through a global pandemic and stayed united, disciplined, and creative. I hope our new labor union inspires more legislative workers nationwide to get organized. Unions are an essential tool to fight inequality and improve the lives of working people,” said Daniel Kroop, ALE Core Committee Member and Senior Financial Analyst.
“For too long, Council Member Aides have lacked the structural organizing power to negotiate the fair and consistent workload and compensation that we deserve. We are grateful to the Speaker for publicly recognizing ALE, but there are still so many decisions made behind closed doors without input from Council staff. We need to change unfair policies that underpay and overwork staff, which contributes to the Council’s high turnover rate; our salaries are simply not competitive enough to retain talented and experienced staff members. Today, we celebrate victory and our hard-earned protections against unfair termination, retaliation, and changes to pay and schedule. Thank you to Speaker Corey Johnson for working with us to reach this historic moment in Council history, and we look forward to next steps in the negotiation process,” said Kana Ervin, ALE Core Committee Member, Council Member Aide, Deputy Chief of Staff, Council Member Margaret Chin.
"As a working mom, I cannot begin to tell you how challenging it has been to balance my profession without compromising my family obligations. There is no work-life balance when we log far more than the 35 hours that full-timers are compensated for weekly. As staffers, we need to be heard, by having a seat at the table where we can weigh in on how the Council can become a safe, equitable, and inclusive workplace for all. I am proud to be a member of ALE who has our back and will fight for what we deserve," said Kristia Winter, ALE Core Committee Member, Council Member Aide, Legislative Director, Council Member Farah Louis.
"By unionizing, Council Member Aides have asserted our dignity. We are incredibly dedicated public servants, and like all working people, we deserve fair wages and benefits, safe job sites, consistent and clear workplace standards, and an effective way to address issues on the job. The union we have built -- which many said could never happen -- will help us achieve these goals. Congratulations to all my wonderful colleagues!” said Sarah Crean, ALE Core Committee Member, Council Member Aides, Communications Director, Council Member Helen Rosenthal.
“Council Member Aides work tirelessly to address the concerns of New York City residents and improve their lives. We serve the City we love. As essential workers we deserve the same rights as other public sector employees. Thanks to the persistent efforts of many Council staff both past and present, our concerns about workplace conditions will now be heard. This job entails working overtime and on weekends and at times making personal sacrifices without proper compensation or comp time afforded to many others for going above and beyond. Today we change that. Our union will ensure a more positive working environment for all City Council staffers. I thank my colleagues for standing in solidarity and Speaker Corey Johnson for acknowledging and supporting this historic achievement,” said Maria Henderson, ALE Core Committee Member, Council Member Aide, Communications Director, Council Member Mark Treyger.
“Tras años de esfuerzo, los asistentes a Concejales hemos sido certificados como miembros de la Asociación de Empleados Legislativos. Las protecciones que nos ofrece el sindicato son más importantes que nunca, especialmente en el contexto de la pandemia, las conversaciones acerca de la reapertura de las oficinas legislativas y las condiciones laborales en las oficinas de distrito. Ahora que los Asistentes a Concejales forman parte de la Asociación de Empleados Legislativos, siempre tendrás el sindicato de tu lado cuando lo necesites,” said Evelin Collado, ALE Core Committee Member, Council Member Aide, Budget and Legislative Director, Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.
"Our work to unionize has always been focused on building a community of our colleagues. As we move forward with building our union, building a connected community over the 51 district offices and central staff will be one of our top priorities," said Kevin Kiprovski, ALE Core Committee Member, Council Member Aide, Legislative and Communications Director, Council Member Paul Vallone.
“We are delighted by the news that the NYC Council union, the Association of Legislative Employees, received full recognition. This achievement reflects the strength of the labor movement in New York City and the dedication of Council staff to organize for better working conditions. We look forward to seeing ALE’s accomplishments and victories in the City Council,” said Brandon Jordan, Core Organizing Member, Organized Advocates of NYC (NYC Public Advocate’s Office)
Majority of Council Members Approve Vote to Recognize
Council Member Aide Titles
RESOUNDING MAJORITY OF NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS SUPPORT UNION RECOGNITION FOR THEIR EMPLOYEES
Twenty Eight Council Members Committed To Vote To Recognize Council Member Aides;
NYC Council Union Positioned To Become The Largest Legislative Staff Union In The Nation
NEW YORK -- The New York City Council staff union, the Association for Legislative Employees (ALE), has won support from twenty eight Council Members for the recognition of Council Member Aides, the staffers who work directly for Council Members. By signing on to ALE’s letter of support, they pledge to vote in favor of authorizing Speaker Corey Johnson to voluntarily recognize roughly 400 Council Member Aides, the majority of whom have requested union recognition twice in the last 12 months.
Upon recognition of Council Member Aides, ALE will become the largest legislative staff union in the country.
Last month, Speaker Johnson voluntarily recognized two staff titles in the Council’s Finance Division, which made the City Council the first legislative body in New York State to have unionized employees. The backing of the majority of Council Members gives a mandate for Speaker Johnson to take steps to voluntarily recognize Council Member Aides. ALE will give Council staff an organized means to address issues regarding salaries, work hours, office reopenings, harassment, and grievance procedures.
In addition to the 28 Council Members who are backing Member Aides in their request for recognition, several New York City unions have signed on in support, including: Communications Workers of America, District 1; American Federation of Musicians Local 802; Service Employees International Union Local 1199; CUNY Professional Staff Congress; New York State Nurses Association; Office of the NYC Public Advocate Staff Union (Campaign Workers Guild); and United Auto Workers Local 4100 (Columbia Postdoctoral Workers). ALE is continuing to gather support from Council Members and labor unions.
“We are proud to announce the growing list of Council Members and unions who are supporting Member Aides’ request for union recognition. This will be a historic victory for legislative staff across the country. Council Member Aides have consistently been on the front lines, serving constituents in every neighborhood, and now helping their communities navigate the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s time to ensure that Aides can advocate for their own workplace protections. A union will help staffers secure the resources and support they need to do their jobs effectively,” said Sarah Crean, Council Member Aide and ALE Core Committee Member.
“I have been a part of the union organizing efforts at the Council for over five years and I am proud to witness how close it is to finally becoming a reality. We look forward to working with the Speaker to push the recognition of Council Member Aides over the finish line. These staffers are dedicated public servants who deserve a voice. We hope to soon join the ranks of the thousands of other unionized municipal employees,” said M. Ndigo Washington, Council Member Aide and ALE Core Committee Member.
“I am the proud son of a Teamster, and a lifelong supporter of labor. Today we have reached the point where a majority of my colleagues support unionizing. I look forward to working with the Association of Legislative Employees so that we can voluntarily recognize Council Member Aides,” said New York Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
“Councilmembers are nothing without staff. Strengthening staff strengthens the institution and our ability to collectively effectuate positive change for the communities we serve,” said Council Member Mark Treyger.
“I’m proud to support the Association of Legislative Employees’ efforts to become a formally recognized union. This is a campaign that has been ongoing for several years. I urge my colleagues to support these efforts and vote to allow this process to move forward,” said Council Member Inez Barron.
“Democracy starts in the workplace and a legislature is no exception. I'm grateful for the extraordinarily hard work our staff do everyday to support New Yorkers -- during this pandemic, and during many other crises large and small -- and to build a better city. I'm proud to support their union organizing for representation and fairness from Day 1, and thrilled that a majority of my Council colleagues agree. Let's recognize them today,” said Council Member Brad Lander.
“CWA District 1 is proud to stand with City Council Member Aides! In working to pass new legislation to protect workers and strengthen our city, we must not forget that there are hundreds of staffers without whom the City Council simply would not be able to function. Every group of workers deserves the right to stand collectively and advocate for their working conditions, and we applaud the City Council Member Aides for taking this historic step,” said Dennis Trainor, Vice President Communications Workers of America, District 1.
“The staff of the NYC Council have taken yet another great step forward. They deserve the respect that a collective bargaining agreement provides. The Council members are doing the right thing by respecting the right of workers to organize,” said Ed Ott, former Executive Director of the NYC Central Labor Council.
Voluntary Recognition of Finance Titles
NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL MOVES TO VOLUNTARILY RECOGNIZE STAFF UNION
NYC COUNCIL WILL BE FIRST LEGISLATIVE BODY IN NEW YORK STATE WITH UNIONIZED EMPLOYEES;
FINANCE DIVISION STAFF FIRST TO RECEIVE RECOGNITION
NEW YORK -- In a historic first, the New York City Council has moved to voluntarily recognize two staff titles in its Finance Division which have requested union recognition. Recognition of these titles will make the City Council the first legislative body in New York State to have unionized employees. Staff will be represented by the newly formed Association of Legislative Employees (ALE).
A majority of 400 additional staff members who serve City Council Members directly (Councilmanic Aides) have also requested voluntary union recognition. Upon recognition of both the Finance Division and Councilmanic Aide staff titles, ALE will become the largest union of legislative employees in the United States.
“We thank the Speaker for working with us on this critically important first step,” said Monica Pepple, Legislative Financial Analyst and ALE Core Committee Member. “This is a victory for City Council staff and legislative employees across the country. We are proud to serve the people of New York City and join the ranks of other unionized City employees. The Council strives to create an equitable and just city for all New Yorkers; as employees, we also deserve an equitable and just working environment. We look forward to collaborating with the Speaker and the Council to ensure voluntary recognition for Councilmanic Aides next.”
Two civil service titles in the City Council’s Finance Division, “Legislative Financial Analyst” and “Senior Legislative Financial Analyst,” comprising 23 staff in total, are the first titles to receive voluntary recognition. Finance Division staff coordinate the Council’s work and oversight relative to New York City’s $92 billion municipal budget. An overwhelming majority of staff have signed cards requesting union recognition.
The recognition of the Finance Division titles follows a multi-year campaign to bring a staff union to the City Council. Staff have sought an organized means to address issues such as salaries, work hours, training and advancement, harassment, and grievance procedures. As staff face additional pressures during the pandemic, it is especially important that they have a collective voice which empowers them to advocate for their safety and well-being.
On December 7th, the City Council filed a petition with the NYC Office of Collective Bargaining voluntarily recognizing ALE as the exclusive bargaining representative for the Finance staff titles. It is anticipated that the initial two-title bargaining unit will be certified by early January 2021.
“Today is a historic day for the City Council and a down payment on establishing America’s largest legislative staff union. Like hundreds of thousands of other unionized municipal employees, City Council finance staff can now bring our collective voice to the table to improve wages and benefits, confront harassment, reduce turnover, and ultimately improve financial oversight of the City of New York. In turbulent times, the Speaker kept his word to staff who wanted to unionize, and we look forward to his support in recognizing the Councilmanic Aides who have been seeking recognition alongside us,” said Daniel Kroop, Senior Legislative Financial Analyst and ALE Core Committee Member.
The Speaker of the City Council, Corey Johnson, said, “As the proud son of a Teamster, I am a staunch supporter of labor and deeply appreciate the stability and benefits that unions provide to working families. I am told that it is rare to have a City governmental entity file a voluntary petition of recognition for employees seeking to unionize but I believe that it is important to practice what you preach, especially when it comes to workers’ rights. That’s why I am so proud to have filed this petition on behalf of our Central Staff Legislative and Senior Legislative Finance Analysts.”