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Union Prez Representing DOE Staff Seeks New Term

June 5, 2014
By Marc Bussanich

New York, NY—About 25,000 union members will be going to the polls on June 16 to vote for either the incumbent Santos Crespo of Local 372 or his challengers. The opposition is claiming that Mr. Crespo isn’t eligible to run because he took a buyout from the city, but Crespo says he is eligible.  WATCH VIDEO INTERVIEW

“I’ve already proven that I am still an employee of the Board of Education, and that buyout was back in 1994 and was given an amount of time to return, which I did,” said Crespo.

Asked if he believes his challengers are engaging in a form of character assassination, he said yes.

“Basically what’s being questioned is my integrity, that I would commit a misrepresentation of not being a member or an employee of the Board of Education,” Crespo said.

Crespo’s local, affiliated with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, represents school crossing guards, cafeteria workers, parent coordinators and substance abuse prevention specialists throughout the city’s public school system.

The election is scheduled for Monday, June 16, but a judicial panel with AFSCME is not supposed to render its decision about whether Santos can run or not until six weeks after the election.

The election will go on however. Asked if the panel should rule that he is ineligible, six weeks after the election, would the local have to conduct another election.

“Good question, I don’t how they would handle that process,” said Crespo.

With less than two weeks to go before the election, Crespo said he would be campaigning hard.

“I still have some work to do for the members. They’ve been without a contract for five years and we have a lot of catching up to do.”

He also noted that the election is more than just about getting a new contract and/or retroactive pay. According to Crespo, his members need safer working conditions.

“School crossing guards risk their lives every single day to make sure children get across the street safely. I’ve had school crossing guards that have died in the line of duty,” said Crespo.

He noted that he recently met with top officers at the NYPD to discuss the dangers school crossing agents face when they’re trying to direct traffic where cars are coming towards them from five different directions.

“The officers said they would be making changes soon,” Crespo said.

That’s why members will have to come out in higher numbers than they did in the last election in 2011.

“If you want progressive leadership, then you’ll come out and vote. [But] if you don’t, then do you really have the right to point your finger and complain that the union is not doing enough,” said Crespo.

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