April 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters:
As I have stated numerous times in the past, we will not have any movement in our contract negotiations until the UFT has resolved their outstanding contract. It is very promising that the MLC (Municipal Labor Committee) has been adamant that they will not negotiate possible health care savings with the City, until those unions that did not receive the two four percent increases are made whole. It is also positive to note that although the media beats a steady drumbeat that the City of New York cannot afford retroactive raises for its workforce, they have begun to correctly identify the difference between the entire municipal workforce that is working under an expired contract and those unions such as ours, the UFT, CSA and nurses which are still seeking to settle the two four percent increases.
Anyone who tells you anything about Local 891’s current negotiations is talking nonsense.
Thank you to all the members who listened to their union and followed my advice not to use the PETS system until it was corrected and working properly. I understand there are still problems that OPI (Office of Personnel Investigations) has yet to fix. Thanks to the resolve of our members, the DoE changed the system so that existing custodial employees were not required to provide an email or fill out a moral questionnaire. The Department was seeking to have you make demands on your employees that were not permissible. Generally, you cannot add a new term and condition of employment once an employee has been hired. Once operating correctly, the PETS system should make the process of clearing a new employee quicker and easier. It will also make it easier to verify the eligibility of custodial workers who have already been cleared to work at other schools.
I truly appreciate members who take the time to contact me with your concerns or point of view on various matters that affect our great Union. I do all I can to address the issues that are of genuine concern to our members. There is always the difficult task of balancing between the everyday job site problems we all encounter and the global concerns we face as a labor organization. It’s a large part of my job to make sure that balance is met. It is your responsibility to let me know if I am not focusing enough of my attention on any one area of concern. I count on and value your input. These are extremely difficult times for public sector union members. We are under constant assault by the media. Each and every one of us must do our part to ensure that as Local 891 members we are educated about the dangers we face. That does not mean day to day matters are any less important.
The Officers working for you at the Union and throughout the City have a responsibility to address the problems that confront our members. Chair Officers, Borough Chairman, Executive Board Members and other representatives are elected to serve you. I need to know when members feel any one of us, including myself, is not living up to your expectations. This also applies to appointed officials, such as Committee Chairpersons or the members of any Standing Committee. It is critical to our success as an organization that your concerns are adequately addressed. It is your right to be heard.
As in all areas of life, along with rights go responsibility! No one should keep taking without giving. We cannot logically expect our Union to effectively stand up for us if we do not participate and stand up for our Union. Local 891 gains its strength through your active involvement. I know our lives have become ever more complicated and hurried. The demands of family, work and our other responsibilities often wear us down. You must make it a point to consider your obligations to your Union as essential to your future. Every member should make a serious effort to attend monthly Union meetings and be actively engaged in union activities.