NEW ORLEANS - Council Vice President Helena Moreno has filed the City’s first legislation to codify the rights of City workers to organize and form a union. While union contracts have existed within the City for decades, this legislation, first announced last month, would enshrine in law the affirmative rights of City workers to organize and the processes to collectively bargain. Nevertheless, over the past several years, the union has faced continuous impediments and delays from the Administration. This legislation intends to clearly and concisely guide the interactions between the Administration and the union to ensure that collective bargaining will occur in a timely and fair manner.
“We want our City workers to have a great place to work so they can best serve the people of New Orleans. I believe that by affirming workers’ rights to organize, we can help give those public servants the power to improve their working conditions and provide the best experience for citizens,” said Councilmember Moreno. “By empowering workers and protecting the right to organize, we can raise our community’s standard of living and builds a better city for us all.”
The New Orleans City Workers Organizing Committee issued the following statement applauding Councilmember Moreno's efforts, "Since the New Orleans City Workers Organizing Committee was founded in 2020, our organizing efforts were complicated by the lack of an ordinance covering City workers' rights to organize. Without such an ordinance, City workers are dependent on the goodwill of each mayor to recognize the union, which was unsustainable. Thus the 'Right to Collective Bargaining Ordinance' represents a collaboration between NOCWOC and the City Council to correct this hardship for City workers. We know this ordinance will strengthen all New Orleans City workers' voices by codifying for the first time ever our rights to union representation, and demonstrate to all workers the power of collaborative organizing so that union rights will be respected in New Orleans."
“Our experience working to organize employees in New Orleans has been frustrated by a lack of engagement by management. We look forward to working with the Council to help improve this process and make sure workers get the representation they need," said Lloyd Permaul, Executive Director, Council 17 AFSCME.
The ordinance, filed at today’s regular Council meeting, provides a starting point for codifying the important rights and processes necessary to ensure City workers’ right to organize and collectively bargain. Under the legislation as filed, workers would see their right to organize codify, as well as clear processes for workers to choose a bargaining organization, requirements that the Administration engage and negotiate with a union as selected by workers, and a process for reaching a collective bargaining agreement in a reasonable time. Any union selected by workers would be recognized as the permanent exclusive bargaining agent, ensuring stability for workers and predictability for each successive mayoral administration. The ordinance also provides for a neutral arbiter to facilitate negotiations and ensure procedures are followed and provides for processes for union successorship. Finally, it calls for the creation of an inclusive working group to craft and enhance aspects of the legislation prior to final passage.
The working group will soon begin work and engage with stakeholders and experts to ensure the final legislation serves workers and adheres to all legal requirements. A final ordinance should be prepared for passage by early summer.
Read the legislation here.