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  Public Employee Press

PEP Dec 2006
Table of Contents
  La Voz

Public Employee Press

Local 1549 fights for improvements at children’s services agency

Moving a mountain takes work.

First, you need a plan. Joining forces to work together is a plus. Adding leverage also helps. Clerical-Administrative Employees Local 1549 and the Clerical-Administrative Division brought all three elements together to move an agency — the Administration for Children’s Services — forward.

First, they formed a committee of members to identify trouble spots. Second, they held a meeting with DC 37 ExecutiveDirector Lillian Roberts to inform her of key issues and get her help. She then sat with the commissioner to get some remedy. Back in May, Roberts said, “Any issues that can’t be resolved at that level will go to the city’s Office of Labor Relations.”

In early August, the city’s Office of Labor Relations issued a memo to ACS management regarding transfer rights of the clerical staff within the agency:“Effective immediately, we cannot transfer clerical staff to another location without complying with the transfer provisions in the contract,” it said. This directive vindicated the position held by the union. “A problem was created when the agency was not recognizing the contract clause,” said Clerical Division Assistant Director Eddie Gates.

After the ACS split off from theHuman Resources Administration in 1996, management made an arbitrary decision that the clerical unit contract didn’t apply in different circumstances. “Our contract’s Article 22 provision regarding transfer rights has been in place for decades and we’re not giving that up,” said Gates.

The “Unit Clerk Differential,” which calls for extra pay for workers with that title, was another hot button item. Many grievances were pending throughout the agency after the contractual right to the pay differential wasn’t being honored. Once again, the contract made the difference. “Article 3, Section 9I governs this,” said Gates. “Both of these situations are classic examples of the union enforcing the contract to protect its members.”

Grievance Rep Pilar Oquendo represented many of the members at ACS locations in Queens with unit differential grievances. “Now the members have been able to receive what was rightfully theirs,” she said.

Grievance Rep Eileen Heaton represented the members in Manhattan on the same matter. She pointed out, “It’s important for the members to attend the union meetings in their location. This is the way they learn about their rights and how to pursue them.”

Local 1549 President Eddie Rodriguez noted that the agency is now going to adhere to the contract. “It shows that we can sit down with Commissioner Mattingly, communicate, and work things out,” said Rodriguez. “It’s a new day.”



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