October 8, 2011
By Marc Bussanich
Local 372 President Santos Crespo and union members stood again on the steps of City Hall on Friday October 7th the last day of work for over 700 Local 372 school aids and parent coordinators.
Joined by numerous politicians and leaders from other DC 37 locals, Crespo, dressed in black because “it’s a day of mourning,” said the reason the city is going forth with the layoffs must be “political payback” because the city has been posting positions already being performed by Local 372 members.
The “political payback” Santos and other union leaders mentioned stems from the perception that Bloomberg’s administration is angry at Local 372’s parent union, DC 37, for not agreeing to use the union-controlled Health Insurance Stabilization Fund to pay the salaries of city workers to avoid layoffs, although 98 percent of the unions on the Municipal Labor Committee rejected the idea, according to Santos.
“It’s absurd to believe that DC 37 could be solely responsible for rejecting using the fund to pay salaries, when the majority of municipal unions were opposed.”
Local 372 and DC 37 are also angry at Bloomberg because they believe the administration has been lying. Crespo said the union submitted a proposal earlier in the year that showed the union was willing to work with the city to rein in costs.
But the city in turn told the union that the principals said the union’s initial offer didn’t include adequate cost savings, but in fact the principals agreed the cost savings were satisfactory, according to Crespo.
Local 372 responded with another proposal to the administration, but it again rejected it, thereby “throwing the principals under the bus,” because it claimed the principals requested more cost savings, said Crespo. He noted, “If the issue was about cost savings, then why didn’t the administration notify the union early on during negotiations?”
On top of that, DC 37’s President Eddie Rodriguez said that Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott had “the gall to say that he’s appreciative of all the hard work of DC 37 members” during the annual Employee Recognition Day just yesterday at DC 37 headquarters. “If he’s [Walcott] appreciative of the hard work of DC 37 members, then why he is not showing his appreciation by stopping the layoffs?”
According to one Local 372 official, Walcott’s speech at DC 37 was probably the shortest he’s ever seen because as Walcott spoke, Crespo stood up and turned his back, with DC 37 and Local 372 in the audience turning their backs as well.
Crespo on Wednesday at City Hall said that Council Speaker Christine Quinn had been meeting with the Mayor, but when she brought up the layoffs, Bloomberg refused to discuss it.
Council Member for District 35 Letitia James had an earful for Bloomberg, saying, “You better come with facts, Mr. Mayor,” referring to the meetings the Committee on Finance and Education Committee are holding on Tuesday, provided the layoffs still stand, to hear the city’s case for the necessity to lay off more than 700 union members.