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Moody's comments on UFT-NYC labor agreement.

Moody's comments on UFT-NYC labor agreement.

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Published by liz_benjamin6490
Despite the lack of details on the deal between the de Blasio administration and the UFT (teachers union), Moody's weighs in, is not terribly positive on the financial reprecussions.
Despite the lack of details on the deal between the de Blasio administration and the UFT (teachers union), Moody's weighs in, is not terribly positive on the financial reprecussions.

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Published by: liz_benjamin6490 on May 07, 2014
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05/07/2014

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ISSUER COMMENT
U.S. PUBLIC FINANCE
 
MAY 6, 2014
 
 
Analyst Contacts:
NEW YORK +1.212.553.1653
Nicholas Samuels +1.212.553.7121
Vice President - Senior Credit Officer
nicholas.samuels@moodys.com
Emily Raimes +1.212.553.7203
Vice President - Senior Credit Officer
emily.raimes@moodys.com
Robert A. Kurtter +1.212.553.4453
Managing Director - Public Finance
robert.kurtter@moodys.com
Timothy Blake +1.212.553.0849
Managing Director - Public Finance
timothy.blake@moodys.com
Proposed NYC Teacher Settlement Spreads 8% Retroactive Pay Raise Over Six Years, Sets Stage for Larger Labor Agreement
On May 1, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City (Aa2 stable) announced a tentative settlement to contract negotiations with the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), which represents most of the city’s 110,000 teachers and other school employees, 37% of the city’s total workforce. Key credit components of the agreement, if approved, include:
»
 
Resolution of a long-standing budgetary risk for the city;
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The net budgetary impact would be dependent on achieving new, substantial health care-related savings;
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Costs to the city solely from the UFT agreement would be a gross total of $5.7 billion over six years, or a net total of $3.3 billion if the health care savings are realized;
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The city’s gross cost of the teachers’ settlement would average 1.5% of forecasted revenue between fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2018 if spread evenly, while the net cost would be a more manageable 0.9%;
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The city has not yet provided full details of the agreement. The New York City economy has recovered strongly since the downturn and revenues have been exceeding estimates. As a result, the cumulative forecasted budget gap in the current fiscal 2014-2018 financial plan is just less than $2 billion ($1.1 billion, $530 million and $370 million in fiscal years 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively). That amount, which averages 0.5% of revenue is moderate given the time horizon the city has to deal with them and notably smaller than projected gaps at the height of the economic downturn. Still, the costs of the UFT settlement are large. An offset to the higher employee wages is health care savings the city has negotiated with the UFT and the Municipal Labor Council (MLC), which represents all city employees. The city and the MLC have agreed to an actuarial evaluation of the health savings and the city says it will have the right to enforce the savings with labor through binding arbitration. Without those provisions, or if arbitration results in less than the city expects, the agreement could increase future budget gaps to levels that would be more difficult for the city to deal with, especially during another downturn. We plan to publish more fully on the labor settlement after Thursday when the city is scheduled to update its financial plan and more fully describe the settlement’s costs.
 
 
U.S. PUBLIC FINANCE
 
2 MAY 6, 2014 ISSUER COMMENT: PROPOSED NYC TEACHER SETTLEMENT SPREADS 8% RETROACTIVE PAY RAISE OVER SIX YEARS, SETS STAGE FOR LARGER LABOR AGREEMENT
The city teachers’ union has worked without a contract since October 2009 and some of the city’s other large employee unions have worked without a contract since March 2010. When and how the contracts would be resolved and the costs associated with them have been a key source of budget uncertainty for the city since then. The agreement reached with the teachers would eliminate that uncertainty for the city through its current financial plan period. Furthermore, because the city has a history of agreeing to substantially similar contracts with its employee unions, the current agreement sets a framework to settle all of the outstanding contracts. Finally agreeing to what those costs are and incorporating them into the budget is significant because salaries and wages average 31% of total revenue between fiscal 2014 and 2018, according to the city’s February iteration of its financial plan, while total personal services costs, which add in pension contributions, fringe benefits such as employee and retiree health care and social security contributions, average 56% of total revenue. Not counting the tentative teachers’ settlement, those personal services costs are estimated to increase an average of 2.2% annually (see exhibit). The city’s fixed costs for debt service, pensions and retiree health care also are already are high and growing quickly, forecasted in the current financial plan to increase by an average of 4.0% annually between fiscal years 2014 and 2018 and will remain a budget challenge and potentially create credit pressure going forward.
EXHIBIT 1
Personnel Costs Drive New York City's Budget
Source: New York City Office of Management and Budget
 While the city hasn’t released complete details of all the agreement’s components, it says that the net cost would be $4.3 billion over its life. The settlement includes retroactive 4% pay increases each for 2009 and 2010 for employees who remain with the city during fiscal years 2015-2021 and retires during that period, which will be paid between fiscal 2015 and fiscal 2020 instead of in a lump sum,  which would have been unaffordable. The agreement also grants new wage increases of 1%, 1%, 1%, 1.5%, 2.5% and 3% between fiscal 2013 and fiscal 2018, respectively., and grants a $1,000 per employee “ratification bonus”. The current financial plan already reflects 1.25% pay increases for all city workers in fiscal years 2014 through 2018, which totals $3.5 billion. Higher wages also will increase the city’s pension funding requirements  An offset to higher wages in the agreement are health care cost savings the city says equals $1.4 billion for the UFT and would total $3.4 billion over the current financial plan if extended to all municipal employees: $400 million, $700 million, $1 billion and $1.3 billion in fiscal years 2015 through 2018, respectively. To further offset the cost of the wage increases, the city and the MLC have agreed to transfer $1billion from a Health Stabilization Fund that is jointly administered by the city and the
 
0%1%2%3%4%5%6%7%05,00010,00015,00020,00025,00030,00035,00040,00045,00050,0002009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
    $   m    i    l    l    i   o   n   s
Salaries & Wages Pensions Fringe Benefits % Change in Total Personal Services
For research publications that reference Credit Ratings, please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for the most updated Credit Rating Action information and rating history.
 
 
U.S. PUBLIC FINANCE
 
3 MAY 6, 2014 ISSUER COMMENT: PROPOSED NYC TEACHER SETTLEMENT SPREADS 8% RETROACTIVE PAY RAISE OVER SIX YEARS, SETS STAGE FOR LARGER LABOR AGREEMENT
MLC. The city has not released much detail about the savings plan but it is based on efforts such as health care purchasing efficiencies that are more difficult to achieve than the direct savings that higher employee premiums or co-pays would provide. Without these savings and the binding arbitration provision, the teacher settlement would have a less manageable cost to the city. On May 5, the mayor also released the ten-year $41.1 billion “Housing New York” plan to encourage affordable housing development. The plan would be financed through $30 billion of private funds, $3 billion of state and federal funds, and just more than $8 billion of city funds, primarily through redirecting or increasing capital funding towards housing and infrastructure improvements to encourage housing development. We expect the next update to the city’s financial plan to provide more details on the budgetary and investment impact of the proposal.

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