By Jonathan Lemire
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration agreed to a new labor contract with the union that represents school safety agents on Tuesday — and settled a discrimination lawsuit brought against the city by female members of the union.
The lawsuit charged that more than 5,000 school safety agents, the vast majority of whom are women, make about $7,000 less annually than their male counterparts, many of whom had similar responsibilities but had the job title of special officer.
De Blasio, a Democrat, centered his mayoral campaign a year ago on a vow to fight income inequality and had pledged to settle the suit.
"We want to make sure all people are treated equally," said de Blasio, who announced the agreement in front of a school in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn on Women's Equality Day. "It is the morally right thing to do."
The $38 million settlement will provide equal pay by the end of the new labor contract, which extends seven years. One of the female officers who brought the suit last year said the settlement was proof that "inequality will not be tolerated in New York City."
"Now I am able to put food on my table," said Kangela Moore. "New York City school safety agents need to be looked at a vital entity in the New York City school system. We do a vital job."
A judge must still sign off on the settlement.
The union, Teamsters Local 237, had been working on an expired contract since 2010.
The new contract provides a 10 percent raise over seven years and a $1,000 ratification bonus, which follows the pattern set up by other recent labor deals, including by the teachers union. The deal will not issue school safety agents guns or bulletproof vests, as some union members had asked.
When de Blasio took office in January, all unionized city employees were working on expired contracts. Now, 62 percent have new deals, according to de Blasio.