Labor Peace Agreements

Today, 12/27/2021, a new law, Inro 2252, has taken effect for all human services organizations and certain of its subcontractor organizations with contracts for services in New York City. The law now mandates that every human service organization enter into labor peace agreements with unions seeking to represent their employees.  The law applies to any awards and renewals made after November 16th, 2021.

Here is part of an email received from a representative from the Mayor’s office who held a conference call earlier today…

“To comply with this law, we have drafted the attached human services contract rider, which includes both a certification of compliance to be signed by the contracting organization at the time of award and annually thereafter, and a Labor Peace Agreement Attestation, which is completed within 90 days of award by the contracted organization and any labor organizations seeking to represent its employees. Attestations may also be required to be filed during the term of a contract if a labor organization comes forward seeking to represent applicable employees.” This Rider was sent this past Friday!

Unfortunately, the conference call today had no substantial information or guidance about compliance. It was a quite a display of unpreparedness and floundering as there were no answers to questions that many providers with large City contracts and advocates like the Human Services Council have been asking for months.

I will share an excerpt from HSC’s Exec Michelle Jackson sent to their members after a call with the Mayor’s Office on Friday.

“HSC and others had assurances that this bill was going through a rulemaking process and protested during the call - and since - about the lack of process, partnership, or guidance on this bill…. The draft guidance is attached and raises more questions than answers, and we will of course follow-up with more information as we push for it.

This legislation, the way it was passed, and the absolute blockade to prevent any conversation about the bill is beyond the pale and shows a disregard for the important role providers play and a lack of understanding of the contracting process. The law is written so vaguely that nonprofit human services providers have no insight into how to follow it and have received no legal notice of this requirement. Yet in less than one business day, they may be subject to penalties for failing to comply, including being unable to register or renew contracts for critical services.

The law requires nonprofits to negotiate “peace agreements” with labor organizations that guarantee continuity of services in the event of a labor dispute while a union represents or is seeking to represent workers but provides no information on how these terms are defined, how a nonprofit can be sure they are acting with the consent of their employees negotiating with a union of their choosing, or how to handle contracts while negotiating an agreement. This vagueness matters, as a nonprofit that is subjected to this law and unable to produce a certification countersigned by a labor organization verifying that they are in compliance will have to choose to either put their organization in jeopardy by operating services without a contract in place, or to shut down programs - and jobs - while waiting for clarification and an agreement to be reached.

This situation was avoidable. When this law was first proposed in bill form, the City Council led by Speaker Corey Johnson rushed it through the legislative process so quickly that no human services workers or providers were able to testify during the May 5, 2021 Committee on Civil Service and Labor hearing. Despite repeated requests for input from nonprofit sector leaders to ensure the bill would be implementable, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Johnson also refused to ever meaningfully engage human services workers or providers in any step of the bill mark-up process leading up to the bill being finalized and signed on August  18, 2021. In the intervening months, the Administration has done nothing to advise or prepare the sector despite numerous requests to participate in rule making proceedings that could have clarified definitions and procedures making it possible to implement this law as designed. Instead, the planned implementation was mentioned in passing during a meeting convened for an entirely different purpose on a Friday afternoon just days before the implementation date without any explicit implementation plan in place.”

For those who are part of the City’s contracted providers, the meeting today resulted in little but an outpouring of controlled rage expressed by providers and so well by Michelle in the above excerpt. One provider suggested seeking an injunction to stop the City’s implementation without any guidance, clarity of definitions on the proposed Rider to the City Service contracts and some understanding of the timelines and processes around a labor organization seeks to represent the employees of a specific organization. All had asked for a delay to help sort out this complete lack of planning and ham-handed method to implementing this flawed legislation, so we’ll let you know as we go.

Click here for Rider - Note that first page is blank.