- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 18, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has reached a deal with one of the 150 municipal unions whose members worked under an expired contract, but he warned that the successful negotiation may not pave the way for other labor agreements.

A deal was struck with the small environmental workers union that includes the pledge of $50,000 in back pay to each worker. The city’s other unions, including the massive health care, teachers and maintenance workers unions, have also asked for a retroactive raises that would total up to $7 billion, which is nearly 10 percent of the city’s budget.

But de Blasio, who captured the Democratic primary without many labor endorsements, has not tipped his hand on other negotiations and has not committed to retroactive raises.

“(The deal) does not indicate anything, honestly,” said de Blasio after an unrelated news conference Tuesday in Manhattan. “This was a separate, very small union. We do not consider this to be any sort of precedent; this is a stand-alone action.”

The union, which is represented by the Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association, has about 200 members whose duties include patrolling the city’s watershed upstate. They had been working on an expired contract for nine years.

The looming negotiations with the other unions, some of which have begun in secret, have cast a shadow over de Blasio’s hopes for his first year in office. He called the situation a “very profound fiscal challenge” and devoted much of his budget presentation last week to criticizing his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, for letting all of the union contracts expire before leaving office.

Bloomberg, a Republican-turned-independent, had offered small raises but the unions chose to wait to negotiate with his successor, hoping for a more union-friendly mayor and improved economic conditions.

The city is running a budget surplus, which has prompted unions to again demand full retroactive raises.

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