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PEP Feb 2004
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Public Employee Press

Local 1549 goes to work for 311 operators

   
 

Bargaining committee for 311 operators holds its first meeting. Local 1549 won union representation rights in a decision by an impartial board.


 

In April 2003, Local 1549 petitioned the Board of Collective Bargaining for the right to represent the new Call Center representatives — the 311 operators. In November, BCB ruled for the local, finding “a sufficient community of interest with persons who are already members of the bargaining unit.”

Local 1549 President Eddie Rodriguez quickly launched an action plan to bring full union rights to the new members. Assistant Clerical Division Director Ron Arnero and Grievance Rep PhyllisStreeter visited the Call Center on Maiden Lane in lower Manhattan to welcome the new members aboard. On Jan. 14, President Rodriguez spoke to the members who gathered to learn more about their union. “We’re happy that you are now in our union. You are the ones who move the city. We plan to address the many issues that concern you.”

“It’s a pleasure to represent them. They’re a new agency, and getting something fresh from the start let’s us work with them in pulling things together,” said Ms. Streeter. “To be in on the birth of this is really something special.” The 311 Center has been functioning for a little over a year in the Dept. of Information, Technology and Telecommunications. Operators answering the 311 hotline have already handled roughly 33,000 more heat complaints this year than last.

“We have our work cut out for us due to the many titles and the different classifications at the center,” Mr. Arnero pointed out. The division and the local are geared up to address this issue and many others — including salaries, flextime, holiday and comp time, career advancement and civil service testing.

The union is trying to get a bargaining date with the city to commence negotiations, said DC 37 Director of Research and Negotiations Dennis Sullivan. “With our experience at 911, we are certain that we will be able to represent them to their satisfaction,” said Mr. Arnero.

The next stage involves forming a Local 1549 chapter and electing officers for the 311 workers.

 
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