September/October 2013 - Labor Issues
September 18, 2013

Lifeguards reach contract agreement

Author: Matt Smith
Source: NYSUT United

A contract impasse lasting nearly a decade and spanning the tenures of four governors is over.

The New York State Lifeguard Corps and the Cuomo administration reached agreement on a new contract, retroactive to 2004 and extending through 2015. It includes salary raises and back pay for the 1,200 members of the lifeguard union, which is represented by United University Professions, a NYSUT affiliate.

"It's been a longtime coming and we're excited we were finally able to reach an agreement with the state due to the efforts of UUP, the New York State Lifeguard Corps and NYSUT working collectively for the best interests of our members," said Lifeguard Corps President Bruce Meirowitz.

Meirowitz expects the new contract to have a "tremendous positive impact" on the morale of the union's membership.Throughout the impasse, Lifeguard Corps members continued to meet and exceed the demands of their jobs, especially as the annual number of visitors to state beaches skyrocketed.

The union represents lifeguards from Montauk Point to Niagara Falls, and Staten Island to Plattsburgh and the Canadian border. The local affiliated with NYSUT in 2009.

"NYSUT heard our plea for help after we tried to do it on our own," said Meirowitz, adding the union's support was instrumental in negotiations.

He characterized the new deal as a "true partnership between labor and management," saying the cooperation of the governor's office and state agencies was integral to ending the long-standing impasse.

Under terms of the contract, lifeguards will receive pay raises of 2.5 percent and 2.75 percent for the years 2004 and 2005; 3 percent for the years 2006 through 2009; and 4 percent for 2010. The contract includes no pay raises for 2011-13. Members will receive 2 percent increases in each of the final two years of the pact. Meirowitz said the union is still working on an average back-pay amount per in-service member, adding that totals will depend on the length of each member's service.