Local 1182 ‘Summons’ Endorsements From The Gut
September 12, 2012
By Joe Maniscalco
In choosing to back certain candidates in this week’s races for the New York State Legislature, as well as U.S. Congress, Local 1182 of the Communications Workers of America – the labor union that represents uniformed traffic and sanitation enforcement agents in the city – employed a short list of hardly unexpected criteria.
“We want to back people who we think have an interest in traffic and sanitation enforcement agents and will champion some of the issues that affect our members,” CWA Local 1182 President Robert Cassar told LaborPress. “The second criteria, of course, is their legislative record.”
After that, however, Local 1182’s endorsement process this year appears to have evolved more from a gut level than anything else. Two questions the leadership asked before compiling its list bear this out: “Do we like this person?” And “Does this person give of the flavor of someone we would want to support.”
The instinctual approach has led to at least a couple of bold picks. In the race for Brooklyn’s 42nd District Assembly seat, for instance, Local 1182 is throwing its support squarely behind newcomer Rodneyse Bichottee against entrenched incumbent Rhoda Jacobs.
“Rhoda Jacobs has been there a long time,” Cassar says. “The community has changed over the years and we think that Rodneyse would better serve that community.”
Anthony Jones is another untested political novice who has nonetheless earned Local 1182’s support. Jones is the Central Brooklyn product who says succeeding scandal-stricken William Boyland, Jr. for the 55th District Assembly seat, would be the culmination of political aspirations he’s held since he was a kid.
“I’ve had a pretty good track record of picking people who have won elections,” Cassar says. “I like to think that when I meet with these individuals and I talk with them, I can see the kind of person that they are. And that’s a factor in my choice. We’re looking for people that have character.”
This year, those people also include incumbent State Senator Gustavo Rivera running in the 33rd District in the Bronx, and another newcomer named Lily Rozic vying for a seat in the Assembly representing the 25th District in Queens.
“The city’s uniformed traffic and sanitation workers are an important part of our community and I am proud to have their support,” Rivera told LaborPress. “Without them, our city literally couldn’t run. I am committed to work to represent the traffic and sanitation workers of the Bronx and New York State and to fight for their right to organize and their interests as working people.”
Rozic says that she is “honored” to receive Local 1182’s endorsement.
“I look forward to working together to fight for New York’s working and middle class families, preserve the safety net, and deliver good jobs with fair wages and reliable benefits,” she added.
Having friends in the State Legislature is especially important to Local 1182. According to Cassar, the existing statute protecting agents from assault is still too weak and needs to be significantly enhanced, while another law barring quotas on issuing summonses expires in 2013.
“We need them to extend that,” Cassar said. “When that law expires it will really allow them [supervisors] to put the screws to our guys in order to bring in summonses. It will hurt our people and it will hurt the public too. It’s a double edged sword. That’s on our front page because our time is short. We need to get that law reinforced.”
Local 1182’s has a long history of working with supportive legislators to accomplish its goals. Cassar credits the support Local 1182 received from key legislators in the City Council for helping to facilitate the 1996 merger with the NYPD that put traffic agents under the supervision of the cops. That move, and the new police-style uniforms that came with it, helped to dramatically reduce the rate of assaults against traffic enforcement agents working in the field.
“Endorsements are important for any union,” Cassar said. “Especially in this day and age. Everything that we’ve gotten since I’ve been here, has come through legislation. So, it’s come through these people that we’ve endorsed. It’s a major component of our operation.”
CWA Local 1182’s full list of endorsements is as follows:
AD25 Nily Rozic
AD40 Yen Chou
AD42 Rodneyse Bichotte
AD55 Anthony T. Jones
AD58 Nick Perry
AD77 Vanessa Gibson
AD78 Jose Rivera
AD80 Naomi Rivera
AD86 Nelson Castro
AD87 Luis Sepulveda
SD17 Simcha Felder
SD18 Martin Malave Dilan
SD31 Andriano Espaillat
SD33 Gustavo Rivera
CD4 Carolyn McCarthy
CD6 Grace Meng
CD7 Nydia Velazquez
CD8 Hakeem Jefferies