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Public Employee Press
Union stops arbitrary standby practice
"We were able to stop them. That in and of itself was important."
—Alexander Elias, Council Rep, Professional Division
By MIKE LEE
The members, Sylvia Maldonado, Esfir Lynbaron, Samia Butt and Irina Parts, are Caseworkers at Coney Island Hospital.
The hospital issued a set of policy and procedural guidelines that placed staff "on-call" on a rotation basis.
These workers were compelled to carry beepers and to be available after work in case of an emergency.
They were not paid for their time while waiting for calls to come in.
"They were placed on a weekly rotational basis - seven days a week," said Council Rep Alexander Elias of the Professional Division, who handled the case.
"They were on-call," Elias said. "The purpose was to cover in case of an emergency call. While they were paid for that time when called in, they were never compensated for the standby time."
"This went on for years," he said.
The requirements for standby time were clear. For every hour a worker was on call, they were to be compensated 30 minutes.
Fed up with the practice, the members filed a grievance in 2013. After a long struggle, an out-of-title stipulation of settlement was signed by NYC H+H and the four workers in September of this year.
The agreement includes paying retroactive standby pay for each week in the rotation dating back to 120 days from before the grievance was filed.
When the grievance was filed, a cease and desist order was issued, halting the practice.
Lines blurred between work and private time
"We were able to stop them," said Elias. "That in and of itself was important. Up until then the line was blurred between their work time and private time - while this went on they had no private life. They had to have beepers with them all the time."
"I'm glad this is over," said Elias. "This was a long time coming. It is unfortunate that we did not get a more fair settlement, since this had been going on, in one case - for 19 years. But if this were the private sector, we would have gotten zero."
"Thank goodness for the union," said Elias. "We stopped this practice."