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City reaches deal with lifeguard union for better pay to address workforce shortages at beaches, pools

Apr. 27, 2023 By Bill Parry

In an effort to remedy the chronic workforce shortage that caused sporadic closures of city beaches and pools due to the lack of lifeguards, the city has reached a deal with District Council 37 on a new deal.

NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue announced on April 25 that the agreement raises the pay rates for new and second-year seasonal lifeguards to approximately $21.26 per hour. Additionally, all lifeguards working through mid-August are eligible to receive a $1,000 bonus, and Parks will once again offer a mini-pool-specific lifeguard certification for staff who cover mini-pools only, making it more accessible for New Yorkers to secure a job as a lifeguard.

“Our public pools and beaches offer New Yorkers a safe place to get exercise, beat the heat, and make the most of their summers,” Donoghue said. “The well-being of our swimmers is our No. 1 priority and lifeguards are essential to creating safe environments that all New Yorkers can enjoy. As we continue to build our lifeguard corps, we’re committed to supporting these critical staff who put their own safety at risk to save lives and make summer happen for millions of New Yorkers.”

Qualifying exams for new lifeguards were held starting in December 2022 and ended in March 2023. New Yorkers who worked as lifeguards in the summer of 2022 are urged to sign up today to get their recertification with the NYC Parks Lifeguard School in order to serve again this summer.

For more information, visit the NYC Parks website here.

The summer swim season begins on city beaches on Memorial Day weekend and the outdoor pool season starts in late June. Nearly a year ago, the Rockaway business community was reeling from the news that a long stretch of Rockaway Beach, from Beach 90th Street all the way to Beach 116th Street would be closed to swimming for much of the summer swimming season due to ongoing work by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. Additional closures became necessary caused by the lack of lifeguard personnel throughout the summer.

Councilwoman Joann Ariola hopes the new deal between the city and DC37 will alleviate the shortages.

“It’s great to see that the city is finally offering competitive wages to beginning lifeguards and I think this will certainly help when it comes to recruitment going forward,” Ariola said. “That said, I would like to see the city extend those pay raises to our veteran guards as well. Year after year, some of our most experienced and qualified lifeguards are poached by neighboring jurisdictions. Providing those returning lifeguards with better pay is a good way to ensure that they continue to work on New York City beaches, instead of going elsewhere for better salaries.”

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