Sending City Workers to the Suburbs
July 21st, 2006

El Diario laments the decision of the city to lift residency requirements on workers in DC 37, the city’s largest union for municipal employees. The contract allows them to live either in the city or six counties nearby, ending a 20-year requirement that they live in the city (firefighters, police officers, teachers and sanitation workers are excluded).

Saying that the requirement has helped keep the middle class from fleeing to the suburbs, el Diario adds that the contract is “an acknowledgement that the cost of living here is out of control, and renting or owning a decent home is less of a reality every day for many people. It underscores the need for more affordable housing in the city, despite the administration`s gains in this area.”

El Diario says that keeping workers in the city strengthens their connection to those they serve, and that “when city workers live outside the city, we all pay the price.”

By on July 21, 2006, 6:49 am
In category: Gotham City | 3 Comments »

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3 Responses to “Sending City Workers to the Suburbs”

  1. Larry Littlefield Says:
    July 21st, 2006 at 8:01 am

    Assuming this deal is enacted into state law, then state law will hold that the City of New York is not allowed to prohibit residents of other parts of the state from taking its local government jobs. This already applies to most New York City positions. But, by New York State other parts of the state will still be allowed to prohibit New York City residents from taking their local government jobs.

    City residents are increasingly commuting to the suburbs to do the lowest wage jobs. Why? Because suburbs zoning out housing that might be affordable to them, to keep the cost of local services down. So having a Soweto solution to their retail and service labor needs is fine with them. What if a NYC resident wants to get a better paying job as a cop, firefighter or building inspector in those locales? Forget it.

    How is this fair?

    And why is no one talking about this?

  2. Larry Littlefield Says:
    July 21st, 2006 at 8:03 am

    Think about it. No one is saying boo about state laws that specifically disadvantage the employment prospects of those residing in New York City relative to those elsewhere.

  3. John A. Says:
    July 21st, 2006 at 10:14 am

    A few points:

    1. City government can only deal with its own labor issues. It can’t do anything about the residency requirements of other communities.

    2. State law is irrelevant. The residency requirement is a mayoral personnel policy and collective bargaining item. It’s not a law.

    3. The impact of this change is much less significant than it seems. Right now, a large majority of City workers are exempt from residency requirements. It’s not just uniformed services and teachers. It’s also a large number of titles within DC 37 and other unions, including engineers and architects, computer titles, lawyers, school custodians, to name a few.

    In addition, anyone who started working for the City before the residency rule was established (1986) is exempt, and waivers are available (though hard to come by) for everyone else. Out of the approximately 400,000 people on the municipal payroll, I would guess that well under 150,000 are subject to the residency requirement. A large percentage of these people live in the City because they choose to. Many others live in reasonably priced housing, so wouldn’t benefit economically from leaving. So in the end, perhaps a few tens of thousands might move out of the City over the course of a number of years, but I doubt that this movement will be detectible in the demographics of the City.

    4. If we really want to retain the middle classes in New York, the biggest issues are day care and schools. I think most people see the value of living in the City, and are willing to sacrifice housing quality and price to do so. The child care costs (as this new father can tell you) are what break the budget. Fear of substandard schools is what drives people out. In the end, the higher property taxes and costs of owning multiple cars come close to making up what people save in housing costs by moving out to the burbs. Schools are the real driver behind that exodus.

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