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  Public Employee Press

PEP Feb 2004
Table of Contents
  La Voz

Public Employee Press

Union to appeal decision in WEP case

DC 37 will appeal two recent New York State Supreme Court decisions on union lawsuits against the city’s misuse of the Work Experience Program.

In an extremely narrow interpretation of the state Social Services Law, a judge concluded that District Council 37 failed to prove the city violated anti-displacement provisions when it assigned WEP workers to do municipal workers’ jobs.

While welfare recipients have worked in city agencies for decades, WEP workers began flooding city agencies during the Giuliani administration. In 1997, state legislation was passed that contained broader anti-displacement language. The union argued that the new law barred the city from using WEP workers in entry-level maintenance and clerical jobs where they replace union workers.

As DC 37 members retired or were laid off, job vacancies were filled by WEPs instead of new employees. In 1999, DC 37 and Locals 372, 983, 1505 and 1549 filed lawsuits seeking court orders to stop the city from using WEPs to do members’ jobs in the Parks and Sanitation departments and HRA.

The case wended its way through the courts and in November a State Supreme Court judge ruled against the union on the basis that DC 37 had not proved each individual case of displacement.

“We will seek to persuade the higher courts that the state Social Service Law does not allow the city to undermine its regular workforce and the unions that represent these employees,” said DC 37 attorney Mary O’Connell.

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