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Volume 43 • Number 10 November 2013

Official Publication of Social Service Employees Union Local 371-DC 37 AFSCME, AFL-CIO

www.sseu371.org

Union Local 371-DC 37 AFSCME, AFL-CIO www.sseu371.org A New Day for New York Michel Friang The

A New Day for New York

Michel Friang
Michel Friang

CALENDAR

NOVEMBER 2013

18

Latino Heritage: 6:30 pm Union Office, 12th Floor

19

Alumni Association: 2:00 pm Union Office, 12th Floor

19

Political Action Committee: 6:30 pm Union Office, 12th Floor

20

Delegate Assembly & General Membership Meeting: 6:30 pm P.S. 40 319 W. 19th St. btw 1 and 2 Aves. in Manhattan

DECEMBER 2013

4

Executive Committee: 6:30 pm Union Office, 12th Floor

5

Black Heritage Committee: 6:30 pm Union Office, 12th Floor

11

Women’s Committee and Political Action Committee Meeting: 6:30 pm Union Office, 12th Floor

12

Committee of Concerned Social Workers:

6:30 pm Union Office, 12th Floor

16

Latino Heritage Committee: 6:30 pm Union Office, 12th Floor

17

Alumni Association: 2:00 pm Union Office, 12th Floor

18

Delegate Assembly: 6:30 pm 235 W. 23 St. in Manhattan

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Next Wave: 6:30 pm Union Office, 12th Floor

19 Next Wave: 6:30 pm Union Office, 12th Floor Published monthly except for a combined issue

Published monthly except for a combined issue in July/ August and a Supplement in January by the Social Service Employees Union Local 371, District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO. Subscription Price $2.00 annually. Periodical postage paid at New York, N.Y.

POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to: The Unionist, SSEU Local 371, 817 Broadway, N.Y., N.Y. 10003.

USPS# 348990 (212) 677-3900 ISSN# 0041-7092

President

Anthony Wells

Executive Vice President Yolanda Pumarejo

Secretary-Treasurer

Juan Ortiz

V.P. Negotiations & Research Rose Lovaglio-Miller

V.P. Organization & Education Armenta Weekes

V.P. Grievances & Legal Services Lloyd Permaul

V.P. Publicity & Community Relations Patricia Chardavoyne

V.P. Legislation & Political Action Michelle Akyempong

Trustees

Vincent Ciccarello

Yolanda DeJesus

Melva Scarborough

Editor

Ari Paul

Visit us on the web at www.sseu371.org

Editor Ari Paul Visit us on the web at www.sseu371.org Celebrating a Win, and Fighting a
Editor Ari Paul Visit us on the web at www.sseu371.org Celebrating a Win, and Fighting a

Celebrating a Win, and Fighting a Challenge

T he progressive winds blew through New York Nov. 5. Bill de Blasio was elected mayor by an overwhelming margin. It was a victory that will change the landscape of New York.

It was a victory that will change the landscape of New York. Mayor-elect de Blasio ran

Mayor-elect de Blasio ran on an unapologetically progressive platform that seeks to change New York from a “tale of two cities” to one city that cares about all people. His progressive agenda includes strengthening the social safety net, stopping outsourcing and a commitment to affordable

[A] victory that will change the landscape of

New York.

and public housing. It must also include a commitment to negotiate a fair, livable wage, with retroactivity, for the public workforce. New Yorkers voiced their opinion at the ballot box, and now we must have a voice at the bargaining table.

We also celebrate the elections of Letitia James, Scott Stringer, Gale Brewer, Eric Adams, Daneek Miller and a new incoming Brooklyn District Attorney, Kenneth Thompson. They represent change and a bright future for New York. We look forward to working with them.

As we celebrate and reflect on Election Day results, we continue our fightback. As we go to press, more than 160 NYCHA workers received “at risk of being laid off” letters. NYCHA management continues its agenda to privatize community and senior centers, even as they walk out the door. As we continue to fight back, we are also organizing members, working with coalitions, using the media and seeking help from our allies in government.

The struggle continues as Medicaid reforms threaten to privatize our functions, eliminate programs and add burdensome requirements to our titles. Although we are in a better position today than two years ago, the fight is not over. We must and will do everything in our power, including using our resources, to protect our jobs, benefits and rights.

We cannot rest on our laurels and successes. Yes, we are fighting to preserve our drug prescription benefits. Yes, the Crisis Intervention Program is helping members deal with crises. Still, we cannot rest.

We will organize and energize the membership. Our delegates are trained and prepared for the daily challenges in the work place. They are committed to making this a strong union through their advocacy in all workplaces. And most importantly, the members are poised for the changes Election Day brought. They understand that our voices will be heard and our issues addressed. We look forward with hope and a renewed energy. God bless you and God bless the Union.

– Anthony Wells

New Day Rising

T he collective elation of the City’s

Eric Adams, who as state senator

fought valiantly for civil rights and fighting police violence and exces- sive force. We are also blessed to have an aggressive fighter and friend of SSEU Local 371 Le- titia James in the role of public advocate, keeping a check on the operations of City Hall. And we welcome new members of the City Council, with whom we will work in the near

future. While this is a time for celebra- tion, indeed, it is also a time for reorganization and recalibration.

it is also a time for reorganization and recalibration. Ken Thompson will be the new DA

Ken Thompson will be the new DA in Brooklyn.

leadership of SSEU Local 371, the labor movement can make its demands heard by officials who are willing to negotiate. So we must organize. Come to Politi- cal Action Committee meetings. Stay informed. And remember, celebrate this victory, but be prepared to fight in the near future. -Michelle Akyempong, Vice President for Legislation and Political Action

Vice President for Legislation and Political Action Eric Adams will be the new Brooklyn Borough President.

Eric Adams will be the new Brooklyn Borough President.

99 percent the morning of Wednes-

day, Nov. 6 was palpable. It was as if

the newspaper headlines morphed beyond their ink form and shouted to the popu- lous that a new day was here. Where to begin? Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio didn’t achieve a mere political victory with a whopping margin. The

people stood athwart the reactionary agenda of Joe Lhota, whose platform con- sisted of the old Giu-

liani tactics of racism and class warfare. The people kicked to the curb the support Lhota got from the red-baiting New York Post and the cries of outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg that de Blasio was waging a war on the rich.

Bloomberg that de Blasio was waging a war on the rich. Letitia James will be the

Letitia James will be the first African American woman in a citywide office.

We cannot sim- ply rest on our laurels. Rather, on Jan. 1, when our new leaders are sworn into office, we must also take an oath. We, as union- ists and warriors of economic equality must

Voices Heard

New Yorkers put their desires in the open: We want progress. We want

workers’ rights. We want affordable housing. We want good hospitals. We want retroactive raises for City employees. In Brooklyn, we witnessed another historic victory. Kenneth Thompson un- seated incumbent Brooklyn District At- torney Charles Hynes. While the people of Brooklyn had grown tired of Hynes’s cronyism and approved of Thompson’s fresh vision of reducing drug prosecu- tions, this is a special victory for SSEU Local 371. Under Hynes, the DA’s office over- zealously prosecuted two of our former members not in the name of justice but in the name of self-promotion for a narcis- sistic and intransigent political hack. Given that Thompson is coming into his position with heavy backing from SSEU Local 371, the next year looks better for our members in the Brooklyn DA’s office with Hynes and his stale, sullied adminis- tration put out to pasture. At the same time, there were other victories. For example, we will have a new progressive Brooklyn Borough President,

promise that we will hold these leaders accountable. We will rally, agitate and lobby. We should find guidance in a tale about Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first days as president, when labor leaders presented him with demands for workers rights that would end being the framework for the New Deal. Allegedly, the newly minted commander-in-chief said, “I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it.” As Tim Price of the Roosevelt Insti- tute explained, “FDR understood that regardless of what he personally believed, change had to happen from the bottom up, not just from the top down.”

Work Ahead

Or as one of our members, Guy Alcin- dor, a BEV Delegate from Brooklyn, put it so eloquently the day after the election, “Yesterday was quite a day for our Union. However victorious we feel as a progres- sive Union we have to keep our eyes on the prize. We have our work cut out for us. “ That is the attitude we must bring to this new administration. With the

NOT ONE LAYOF

The Union Unites to S

“As we have seen around the country in the attack on public housing and other public services, so called non-profits are put forward as the friendly face of privatization, but whether privatization is carried out through a for-profit or non-profit, workers end up the losers through lower wages, less security and rights, and reduced services,” Arena said.

security and rights, and reduced services,” Arena said. E arlier this year, SSEU Local 371 won

E arlier this year, SSEU Local 371 won a major victory when City

Council preserved funding at NYCHA through the end of the year, ensuring that our members at community cen- ters were safe from termina- tion. The idea was that with a more progressive administra- tion likely to come to power in 2014, the Union and other labor and community groups would be in a better negotiat- ing position with the City in terms of how it handles public housing. But the outgoing Bloomberg administration, and its cor- rupt and inept managers at NYCHA, couldn’t end 2013 without causing more pain to struggling communities. At risk of layoff notices have been sent to 160 members, as the agency moves to put community and senior centers under the aus- pices of other city agencies, who will oversee their privatization by non-profit groups.

Saving All Jobs

“We will not tolerate even one layoff,” Union President Anthony Wells said between meetings with NYCHA-based members at SSEU Local 371 headquarters. “We are explor- ing every possible option. We know that the agency can train workers to move into new titles. We know that they can move into other agencies. It doesn’t matter if these workers have to switch into a different union. What’s important is that no NYCHA worker has to spend this holiday season wondering how to put food on the table.” Secretary-Treasurer Juan

Ortiz, who previously served as a NYCHA community cen- ter director, also told members that the Union was prepared to sue the City in order to stop the terminations. The Union has until Jan. 5, 2014 to keep all these mem- bers working in some way. Vice President for Research and Negotiations Rose Lovaglio-Miller said that NY- CHA management has offered some at-risk workers positions in resident engagement and in gardening, but she added that the Union is pressuring the agency to look at other skilled trades positions. “We don’t only want them to look into community titles if there are other positions they are fit for,” she said. SSEU Local 371 is fighting back the terminations not just because it is a strike against the membership, but because

the Union is fighting against austerity in general. Jay Arena, a sociologist at the College of Staten Island whose research is focused on urban public hous- ing programs, said that the recent news of possible layoffs and outsourcing to non-profit social service agencies was part of a larger campaign against the public sector.

A National Trend

“As we have seen around the country in the attack on public housing and other public services, so called non- profits are put forward as the friendly face of privatization, but whether privatization is carried out through a for-profit or non-profit, workers end up the losers through lower wages, less security and rights, and reduced services,” Arena said. “The plan to privatize the community centers is part

Ari Paul
Ari Paul

NYCHA Chairman John Rhea has been under fire for financial mismanagement and for waging a war on workers and residents.

F

ave Jobs at NYCHA

Ari Paul
Ari Paul

Members at NYCHA gathered to discuss the campaign to save jobs at the agency.

of a larger attack on public housing in New York, attacks that include the so-called infill scheme to hand over what little green space exists in the devel- opments to developers to build luxury housing, to the placing of a privatized charter school at the St. Nicholas develop- ment despite the opposition of residents, to allowing banks to invest in developments.”

A War on the Public

He continued, “All of these initiatives are of course sold in the name of saving public housing, but in fact are directly or indirectly part of the privatization and destruction of public hous- ing, a resource that the City’s working class needs more than ever as the local real estate barons increasingly gobble up what little affordable housing

exists in the private sector and places it out of reach for most New Yorkers.” For the last several months, media outlets like the Daily News have noticed that the agency has money to run its operations, despite its claims of poverty. The reality is the current chairman, John Rhea, has elected to use that money to work against the interests of residents instead of serving them. The paper recently reported, that “The New York City Housing Authority spends $8 million a year on lawyers—far more than it does on bricklayers or exterminators—to wage legal warfare against its 600,000 residents. When tenants turn to the courts hoping to force the agency to fix long- standing decrepit conditions, they’re outgunned by one of

98 NYCHA attorneys who work on the taxpayers’ dime.” City Council has expressed outrage at Rhea’s intention to pull NYCHA out of running its own social services, and has seen it as an extension for his ad- ministration’s general disregard for integrity. Council Members have lambasted him for spend- ing $10 million for a profit firm, where he used to be the CEO, to conduct a cost-saving report for the agency and then attempting to block the Council from seeing the report.

Forcing Changes

Further, another investiga- tion indicated that NYCHA management was seeking service cuts while it sat on $1 billion in Federal funding. The boondoggle, indeed, forced the administration to make fundamental reforms to the

agency’s governing structure. Mayor Bloomberg announced this summer, “Moving forward, board members will no longer be salaried, but rather serve in part-time positions with stipends for time dedicated to board activities. This bill will also increase the overall size of the Housing Authority’s board from four to seven and provide for additional tenant represen- tation with three of the seven board members being required to be public housing residents, ensuring a more diverse range of views.” But despite this track record, the agency thinks it can get away with this down- sizing. However, the Union has won more challenging battles than this. “The Union is engaging with the administration to see a way out for these workers,” Wells said.

The Ensley Scholarship Is Gaining Steam

The Ensley Scholarship Is Gaining Steam M embers are getting excited for the Union’s planned schol-

M embers are getting excited for the Union’s planned schol- arship fund in the name of Charles Ensley, the legendary

departed SSEU Local 371 president. The Union is dedicated to looking at new and innovative ways to honor the legacy of Ensley, whose colossal contri- butions to this mighty Union and the entire labor movement in his two decades as president have made him a kind of eternal and celestial overseeing presence since his death in 2010. The first annual scholarship fundrais-

ing event and auction will take place Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014 at Russo’s on the Bay, 162-45 Crossbay Boulevard, Howard Beach, NY 11414, from 6:00 to 11:00 p.m. Individual tickets are $125, and table for 10 is $1,000.

A Lasting Tribute

“We think this will be a great way not only to honor Ensley’s unmatched legacy, but it will be for the betterment of all members,” said Union President Anthony Wells. The scholarship will be used for members pursuing higher degrees in labor studies. Deborah Williams, of the Union’s health and safety team, who is leading this effort,

Charles Ensley believed in education in classrooms and in the streets.

said, “These scholarships will provide our members with the opportunity to heighten their abilities, which can serve to strength- en our Union.” Wells added that there would be many

more benefit events for the fund in the future. For tickets and information, contact Deborah Williams at (212) 598-7050 or

dwilliams@sseu371.org.

Delegate Training Responses

The feedback just keeps on coming from members who attended the Union’s three- day delegate training in upstate New York last month.

Among some of the things delegates and alternates found most helpful, according to their responses, were conducting examples of workplace situations, legal and grievance information, and skills for organizing the rank-and-file at the workplace.

Some gathered their ideas on how to do these trainings differently in the future. Those suggestions included using more multi-media presentations and more time for members to ask questions of presenters.

But what was most encouraging from these responses were the many things

delegates and alternates said they would do on location as a result of this training program. They said they would have more floor meetings to get more members involved, be more proactive with engaging the membership and better learn the terms of the contract.

“It really is encouraging to see how committed these members are to learning more and being more engaged, especially among the newer delegates and alternates,” said Armenta Weekes, vice president for organization. “That really was the goal of this training. We really do appreciate the members giving us their feedback about these sessions. Our goal for the future is that each delegate training is better than the previous one.”

Bloomberg’s

UNHEALTHY LEGACY

SSEU LOCAL 371 members, along with many other working people around the City, are keenly aware that one of the worst things Michael Bloomberg has done to the City is harm its health services. It’s ironic, considering that everything the media has chosen to focus on, such as Bloomberg’s crusades against salt, trans- fats and large sodas. The reality is, these are stunts meant to distract the media and the public at large from the cuts to the safety net hospital systems. On the surface, most recently, this reduction in service has manifested itself in the form of job cuts for SSEU Local 371 members at the Health and Hospitals Corporation. However, the Union was successful in averting layoffs.

Finding Jobs

Harlem Hospital attempted to termi- nate four community liaison workers after the grant money justifying their salaries ran out. After pressure from the Union, the workers were moved to am- bulatory care jobs at the hospital, and the workers never left HHC payroll. District Council 37 and many other unions gathered on the steps of City Hall Oct. 30 to protest other draconian cuts. The council said in a statement that HHC “has temporarily closed North Central Bronx Hospital’s Labor and Delivery Department potentially creating danger- ous consequences for low-income women and families in the northwest Bronx com- munity. The City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene plans to reduce hours for nine STD Clinics that served close to 100,000 in 2012. Earlier protest temporar- ily halted the Health Department’s closing of two of the city’s three immunization clinics in Queens and the Bronx at the height of the school vaccination season. Now, the DOHMH plans to shut the immunization clinics down as of Decem- ber 31 in the middle of flu season, leaving only the Ft. Greene Clinic in Brooklyn.”

SSEU Local 371, having members in both HHC and DOHMH, fully sup- ports increased funding for services. In addition, safety net hospitals are already feeling increased strain as low-income patients are running out of health options as private sector hospitals like St. Vin- cent’s in Manhattan have closed.

Bloomberg’s Arrogance

As the protest went on, with the support of community activists and progressive elected officials like Public Advocate-elect Letitia James,

Bloomberg ascended the steps as he returned with his entourage from a Sanitation Department ceremony. The activists taunted the lame duck mayor, insisting that the cuts were too much for the 99 percent to endure. In his trade- mark, plutocratic fashion, he smiled and scoffed at the hoi polloi. Moments like that should remind members that while these cuts are serious and need to be addressed, there is hope that we will be better equipped to negoti- ate and win what the public needs from the next administration.

and win what the public needs from the next administration. Workers made it clear that they

Workers made it clear that they were on the side of the patients not the bean counters.

Condolences

Condolences are extended to Brenda Jacobs, Caseworker at Queens CASA, on the death of her uncle, VanDyke Jacobs, “Uncle Sonny,” who died Oct. 27. Condolences may be sent Brenda Jacobs, 143-06 170th Street, Jamaica, NY 11434.

Condolences are extended to the family and friends of James A. Brooks “JB”, who recently retired, after working with HRA/ Claims & Collections Department, who died Oct. 6. Condolences can be sent to Lisa Brooks, 925 Prospect Place, Apt. 1E, Brook- lyn, NY 11213.

Condolences are extended to Amenta Bowan, Caseworker, at Coney Island HASA, on the death of her sister, Denise Bumbury, who was a Caseworker at APS in Brooklyn, 250 Livingston Street, who died in October. Condolences may be sent Ms. Claudette Bumbury, 2023 Caton Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11226.

Condolences are extended to Grievance Representative Maria Jimenez-Gonzalez on the death of her father, Felix, who died in September. Condolences may be sent to Ma- ria Jimenez-Gonzalez, SSEU Local 371, 817 Broadway, 14th Floor, New York, NY 10003.

Condolences are extended to Union clerical staffer Tonya Baker on the death of father, who died in October. Condolences may be sent to Tonya Baker, SSEU Local 371, 817 Broadway, 14th Floor, New York, NY 10003.

Condolences are extended to the family of Kwame Bey, a retiree and former Union Delegate at Bedford Atlantic Shelter, who died in November. Condolences may be sent to Monifa Bey, 98-40 57th Ave., Apt. 181, Corona, NY 11368.

Lists Established

The Union is happy to report that several Civil Services lists have been established and are now viable: Sup II, Sup III, Social Service and Social Work titles. The Union will be asking Commissioners to start moving these lists as soon as possible.

Correction An article last month misspelled the name of the new dental clinic manager. It is Dr. Ronald Mith.

of the new dental clinic manager. It is Dr. Ronald Mith. Social Service Employees Union Local

Social Service Employees Union Local 371 817 Broadway New York, N.Y. 10003

Periodicals Postage Paid at New York, NY

Seven Laid Off in HPD, Union Fighting Back

S even Community Assistants at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development were laid off Nov. 1,

and the Union is working to find them new positions as soon as possible. The Union protested the proposed layoffs and tried to stop the terminations during labor-management meetings, noting that the agency was hiring in other sectors. “There was no reason for the layoffs,” said Union President Anthony Wells. “Hopefully, the new administration

will realize how cruel it is to layoff people in one part of an agency while it is hiring in another.” The Union’s research and negotiations section is currently monitoring other agencies to see if there are other titles these members can move into. “The workers have also been put on a recall list, as per the layoff procedure,” Wells added. “Hopefully, through attrition there will be a need to hire, as has happened in the past.”

will be a need to hire, as has happened in the past.” Update on Lloyd Permaul

Update on Lloyd Permaul Suspension

AFSCME President Lee Saunders informed SSEU 371 on Oct. 10 that the international union has upheld the Executive Committee’s suspension of Vice President for Grievances and Legal Services Lloyd Permaul pending the outcome of charges. The Executive Committee suspended Per- maul for 30 days pending a decision by the international after the vice president admit- ted to tampering with City timesheets. The Union then filed changes on Sept. 30 against

Permaul for forging timesheets, disregarding Executive Committee decisions and for being the subject of a sexual harassment lawsuit. Permaul will remain suspended until the resolution of these charges, when the charges will be heard before the AFSCME Judicial Panel Thursday, Dec. 5, 10 a.m. at the Mil- lennium Hilton Hotel in lower Manhattan. For now, the section is being supervised by executive assistant and former section vice president Shirley Gray.