PHA and Building Trade Unions Agree to New Contract

Agreement includes work rule changes that give both sides more flexibility

 (PHILADELPHIA - June 20, 2019) - The Philadelphia Housing Authority Board of Commissioners today unanimously approved a new three-year labor agreement with the union representing most of the agency's nearly 600 full-time maintenance staff.

The pact with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Philadelphia and Vicinity (BCTC) goes into effect immediately and runs through March 31, 2022, and includes a one dollar-per-hour increase in both the second and third years. In year one, the parties negotiated a one-time bonus payment that will vary depending on position. For example, a Laborer making the base rate of pay will receive a bonus of $3,120.00 in year one. In years two and three, in addition to salary increases, members will receive one-time across-the-board bonus payments of about $520.00.

"Our negotiations with BCTC remained amicable throughout the process," said PHA President and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah. "Both sides recognized that changes to work rules were critical in keeping PHA flexible in our operations in the face of uncertainty around federal funding for affordable housing. We believe the new contract allows us together to serve residents well regardless of potential changes in ownership or property management structure."

"On behalf of the nearly 600 members of the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council and our sub-contractors who proudly work day in and day out for the Philadelphia Housing Authority, we thank the PHA Board of Commissioners and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah for reaching a new labor agreement with us that will keep this great partnership in place for at least the next three years," said Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council Business Manager John J. Dougherty. "Through the unanimous approval of this new three-year agreement, the PHA has acknowledged the superior work product our members deliver every day of the week and for that we're very grateful.

The parties agreed to revise language from the previous contract that recognizes the changing landscape housing authorities are facing. On the one hand, PHA gains flexibility to achieve operational efficiencies if it reduces the number of public housing units it owns and manages. On the other hand, the union secures the ability to offset the potential reduction in PHA jobs with similar jobs in the private sector. To accomplish that goal, PHA agreed that when it subcontracts BCTC work that any vendor selected will be required to use workers from one or more of the trades represented by a BCTC union (or another union agreed to by the BCTC).

Another change in the contract establishes a new classification for workers performing landscaping and grounds-keeping duties in order to pay them a different rate than maintenance workers. Currently those duties are either performed under the more costly Laborer classification or by an agreement with a vendor. PHA and BCTC hope to fill many of the new landscaping positions with PHA residents.  

Laborers make up a large majority of the PHA maintenance workforce but also included are maintenance mechanics, painters and glaziers, electricians and plumbers among others. The starting hourly rate for a Laborer is $29.09 per hour for an annual rate of just over $60,000. By the end of the contract the hourly rate will be $31.09 for an annual rate of just under $65,000.
The contract stipulates there will be no lay-offs in the first year, except in the event of a reduction in federal funding to PHA.