Adams Extends Remote Work Benefits to Nonunion NYC Employees

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New York City Mayor Eric Adams — who has repeatedly criticized private businesses for their remote-work policies — is easing up on in-person work requirements for some 16,500 nonunionized city employees, the mayor announced Monday.

City workers not represented by unions will now benefit from the pilot launched in June with District Council 37, the city’s largest public employees union, allowing city workers to work remotely up to two days a week. 

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Nonunionized employees will be able to join the program provided they can perform their duties fully and with minimal impact on overall job performance, according to the city. Decisions around who exactly is eligible will be made by individual city agencies and reviewed by the newly minted flexible work committee, a task force established in DC 37’s newest contract with the city. 

The move was first reported by Gothamist.

Adams’s announcement this week described remote work as “critical tool for recruiting and retaining top talent” — a sharp change from his tone just two years ago, when he came into office with big ambitions to lure workers back into Manhattan’s office towers. 

Policies for city employees had been in a state of flux ever since former Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered city employees to return to in-person work full-time in September 2021. Adams planned to uphold his predecessor’s policy, but the city’s unionized workers had other plans.

Adams drew skepticism early in his administration for his barbed comments about remote-work policies, telling New Yorkers to change out of their pajamas and come back to the office.

“You can’t run New York City from home,” Adams told a Bloomberg TV anchor days after his inauguration when several large financial firms announced remote-work policies during COVID’s omicron variant wave — including Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs

“We must have everyone participate in our financial ecosystem to allow the low-skill, unskilled and people who are doing hourly employees to actually be part of our ecosystem,” the mayor continued. “They can’t remotely do their job.”

The issue roared back to life this year, and Adams softened his hard-line stance on remote work for city workers as part of contract negotiations with DC 37, which represents some 150,000 members and 89,000 retirees.

“New Yorkers deserve the best services government can offer, and our secret weapon is the most talented, hardest-working workforce in the world,” Adams said in a statement Monday. “Public servants deliver for New Yorkers through the city’s most urgent crises, and now it’s time for us to support them as they have supported us.”

The pilot flexible work program has been up and running for four months and will continue until May 31, 2025, when the city and union reps will negotiate whether to continue it further.

About 88 percent of the city’s workforce is represented by unions — including the Police Benevolent Association, United Federation of Teachers and Teamsters Local 237.

Abigail Nehring can be reached at anehring@commercialobserver.com.