March, 2016

Brothers and Sisters,

As I have indicated in the past, I have been in negotiations on the method of delivering custodial services. This is taking place in accordance with the side letter agreement we approved in our most recent collective bargaining agreement (CBA).  Mayor de Blasio and I have met several times and I continue to meet with the NYC Office of Labor Relations on a daily basis.  I believe we are close to a deal that will amend our CBA; of course, negotiations can always break down or take longer than expected.  Our Executive Board has recently been notified of the progress.  They have not been informed on any of the terms of the agreement because it is not final.  When the agreement is final, it will be vetted through the Executive Board for a recommendation to the membership.  The membership will receive the agreement in writing prior to a Summons Meeting to vote on and ratify any agreement.

Please disregard the outrageous rumors that are being spread by people from outside and within our union.  The Negotiation Committee consist of the five Chair Officers and our attorney.  They are only people privy to the details being discussed.  One of the main objectives of the City is to change the employer of record and thereby move towards a more “direct system.”  An actual direct civil service system is not being negotiated.  Under the City’s proposals the custodial employees would be eligible for prevailing wage. I certainly could have done more to keep the membership apprised, but I have been consumed in the process of negotiating on your behalf.

Your Negotiation Committee seeks to improve the terms and conditions of your employment.  You have my word that no deal will be reached that doesn’t benefit you and your family.  Any agreement will strengthen our union and ensure the future of this unique craft.  Change is inevitable, but we will preserve your ability to utilize the resources of your assignment in the manner necessary for all of us to succeed.  I appreciate the confidence you place in me and I promise to deliver.




Local 891 International Union of Operating Engineers

Brooklyn Navy Yard, 63 Flushing Avenue

Building 292 Suite 401 (Unit 358)

Brooklyn, NY 11205

718.455.9731 fax 718.455.9733

January, 2015

I am extremely pleased to announce that I have signed a new MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) that extends our current CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) until December 31, 2016.
Members will receive an overall compounded raise of 18.08%. The contract includes two rounds of bargaining. The first round covers the period January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2009. The second round extends the agreement through to December 31, 2016. The two 4% increases from the first round will be paid out in four 2% raises going into effect on the dates indicated in the agreement. The first two 2% raises will be retroactive to January 1, 2008 and the second two 2% raises will be retroactive to January 1, 2009. The retroactive increases are not being referred to as “back-pay” but instead are referred to as “Lump Sum Payments”. The lump sum payments will be paid out according to the schedule in Section 5 of the attached MOA. Retired members and members that retire and are off payroll within 28 days of ratification will receive their entire Lump Sum payment as quickly as it can be implemented. Members currently eligible for retirement should contact Pension Committee Chairman and BERS Trustee Joseph D’Amico. He can be reached at 718.455.9731, ext. 268 or via email at:
Upon ratification we will be due an immediate increase of 81⁄2 % along with the back pay due from July 1, 2011 up to the time of implementation of that increase. Additionally, there will be a one-time $1000 pensionable signing bonus to all members on active payroll on the date of ratification.
In reference to a “Direct System” there is language in the MOA restating Article XVI of our current CBA. There are no changes to this language nor is there a current plan in place to institute such a system. However, the MOA requires the Department of Education to negotiate any such change with Local 891.
The Mayor and the Chancellor have both announced their intentions on extending the school day and the use of the City’s school buildings. Local 891 has insisted that the current permit and space sheet process creates financial uncertainty for our members and requires them to wait long periods of time for reimbursement. There is also a side-letter agreement between the parties that we will meet and negotiate an extension of the day school schedule that is predicated on taking some of the money currently funding extra use and adding that money into our Day School Allowance. The exact hours and which buildings that will be used must be negotiated. Outside of this day school extension, the permit and space sheet process remains as is.
There are no changes to the language of our current CBA other than the new economic terms!
I am proud to present this agreement to you for your approval and I thank you for standing behind me to get this done.

December 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Everyone should be aware that we are engaged in serious ongoing negotiations for a new CBA (CollectiveBargainingAgreement). We are seeking a contract that covers the period January1, 2008 until December 31, 2016. The economic terms will likely be very similar to the UFT and the recently settled 32BJ agreements. Settling the 32BJ agreement has helped to move our negotiations closer to completion. Obviously, I cannot talk about the specific terms until an agreement is reached. I appreciate the unified support of the membership which has aided me tremendously at the table. I assure you, I will bring you a contract that delivers the raises and entire back pay to which we are entitled. Just as important, I will deliver a contract that preserves our job, our membership and the future of our Union.

As we approach the holiday season, I hope you and your families are doing well. I ask that you please be generous and donate a toy to our Annual Children’s Holiday Party. Each year we adopt one school and give each child in that school a gift. Once again, I am asking our retirees to contribute and help us attain the large volume of gifts needed for the event. We try to choose a school that is in an area where unemployment is high and incomes are low. This annual tradition is truly one of the greatest things we do as a union. I urge everyone to participate in your borough holiday party. The Borough Chairmen work hard to put together an event that is affordable and enjoyable. They need your support.

I wish everyone a wonderful holiday season. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

October, 2014

The General Membership meeting for October will be held on Thursday, October 2nd at 7:00 pm at New Dorp H.S., Cafeteria “B” in Staten Island. This is the first time that anyone can remember a Union Meeting being held in the borough. The address is 465 New Dorp Lane, Staten Island NY 10306. We have a very special guest, Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. a Local 891 endorsed candidate for Congress in Brooklyn and Staten Island. Members are asked to make every effort to attend the October meeting. Residents of New York’s 11th Congressional District which covers areas of Brooklyn and Staten Island are particularly encouraged to invite family, friends and neighbors to this meeting. During his twelve years as a member of the New York City Council, Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. was a strong supporter of Local 891 and a vital ally in our successful battle against privatization.

As part of an ongoing arbitration regarding Hurricane Irene and Sandy, your Union needs to collect certain information. If you worked at any of the evacuation centers or shelters and you were NOT paid as a custodial worker please respond to the email I sent you. I need to know your name, your assigned site at the time of the storm/storms and the site of the shelter/ shelters where you worked. Please respond as soon as possible. If we are successful in gaining additional compensation, we want to insure every entitled member is included.

I have met with Local 32BJ to restart contract negotiations over the non-economic portion of the collective bargaining agreement between our two unions. We are not starting from scratch; we are picking up where we left off when Mayor Bloomberg stalled negotiations. We have a set date for our own first date of formal negotiations for our successor Collective Bargaining Agreement. As I have stated on numerous occasions, please stop listening to any rumors about our contract. I will keep you informed as things progress. Any member who has an idea or suggestion is welcome to contact me. I pledge to bring back a contract that is fair and beneficial to our membership. This will be accomplished as soon as possible without bending to their demands unless it is to gain something of greater value that we seek.

September, 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

I would like to see every member of our Union at the Labor Day Parade on Saturday, September 6th. A strong show of solidarity is vital for the Labor Movement and important for our own local. Local 891 will assemble on West 45th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. We are scheduled to begin marching at 11:30 a.m. A complimentary breakfast buffet will be served at Jackie Onassis Campus H.S. 120 West 46th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues, from 9:00 am to 11:15 am. Bring your family and friends. There will be a free Local 891 hat and polo shirt for everyone that attends.

If DCAS is to be believed, the test scores and list numbers for the Custodian Engineer Exam should have already been mailed. If they were not, they should be mailed shortly. The Department of Education has promised to hire as soon as the list is available. Local 891 did all that it could, including a successful law suit, to force the exam to take place when very few civil service tests were being administered. Local 891, the Department and several elected officials put pressure on the agency to have the exam scored and appeals processed. Although it has taken a long time, most of the people originally disqualified based on experience requirements were eventually accepted as qualified. This includes several provisional members of our local and many of the custodial workers we have hired, trained and mentored over the years. The influx of new members will help keep Local 891 strong and prevent outsourcing. In the not too distant future, we will begin advocating for a new CE exam, because the list will likely be exhausted and the entire process of planning, advertising, testing and scoring takes so long.

Many of you are aware that we have had numerous issues with the Department of Buildings causing delays in the issu- ance of licenses to those Custodian Engineers waiting for the completion of their investigations for a Stationary Engineers License. I provided the Department of Buildings with a list of all the CEs who have taken the exam and are still awaiting their license. They have been investigating and have resolved many of the issues. Engineers Protective Committee Chairman, Frank Felix, along with Vice President, Jeff Bilek (a former Chairman of the same Committee), have been in continuous contact with officials from the Department of Buildings to discuss the various issues Custodian Engineers are having in the investigation stage of their Stationary Engineers license applications. DSF has also been interacting with the DOB and have offered assistance in verifying high pressure eligibility. Thankfully, some members have begun receiving their Licenses and the agency will keep Vice President Bilek apprised of the progress of all Local 891 members’ investigations.

The Department of Buildings has taken a hard line approach in issuing all types of professional licenses and Custodian Engineers applying for a Stationary Engineers license appear to be under particular scrutiny. Local 891 will continue to do whatever it takes, including taking appropriate legal action, to insure all eligible Local 891 applicants receive fair treat- ment. I will continue to do everything I can to ensure current and future members of our Union have every possible opportunity for advancement.

I have had ongoing contract discussions with the new First Deputy Commissioner of Labor for the NYC Office of Labor Relations. OLR has been preparing for the start of formal negotiations and plans to begin meeting with us sometime in September. I will do what I can to deliver our contract quickly, but much more importantly, I assure you I will bring you a new contract that is fair and good for our members and preserves the future of our Union.

June 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Our Annual Dinner Dance was a huge success. We had several important guests in attendance including New York State Comptroller Thomas Di Napoli, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and former New York City Comptroller John Lui.

John Lui is currently running for State Senate in Queens and has received the endorsement of the NYC and NYS Coalition of Operating Engineers. Former NYC Council member Domenic M. Recchia, Jr., a candidate for Congress in New York’s 11th District covering Staten Island and southern Brooklyn, also attended.

The most important attendees were the nearly 600 members, families and friends who showed their support by participating and enjoying themselves. I thank all those who placed ads in our Journal and the 150 plus members who donated to the event by purchasing a ticket even though they were unable to attend.

Most of you have heard about and read certain details of the UFT’s new contract. The deal they reached is equitable and sets a pattern for us and other municipal unions to follow. That is not to say that we will get the exact same deal paid out over the same period of time. Oneobvious difference is our contract anniversary dates are different. Nothing is a “given” and everything is subject to our own successful negotiations. As I have stated on numerous occasions, I will not settle for anything less than the full raises and retroactive payments which I believe we are entitled. I have contacted the Mayor, met with Chancellor Fariña and spoken to the Office of Labor Relations about setting dates for negotiations as soon as possible. I will keep you apprised as things progress.
When I met with the new Chancellor, we discussed the many issues that affect the members of Local 891. I stressed the importance of bringing our contract up to date, and bringing the contracts of our workforce up to date as well. We discussed the need for a restoration of building al- location cuts and an increase in supply allocations. I expressed our opposition to privatization. The Chancellor recounted some past experiences with Custodian Engineers both good and bad. She stated that the schools seem to be in better condition and the Custodians generally are more responsive to the school administration and community then they were in the past. If she visits your school, make it a point to introduce yourself as the Custodian Engineer and a proud member of Local 891.
Vice President Matthew Wile is retiring as a Custodian Engineer. As of Friday May 2, 2014, he has resigned his position as Vice President. We all wish him the best of luck. Matt is in the process of exhausting his accumulated vacation and terminal leave and will be working for us in the meantime as a direct employee. I have appointed him as a Special Assistant to the Business Manager for the remainder of time he works for Local 891. Adhering to the rules of the Constitution of the International Union of Operating Engineers, the four remaining Chair Officers have voted unanimously to elect Jeffrey J. Bilek as the new Vice President. I have appointed Recording-Corresponding Secretary Frank Byrne to assume the release time position when vacated by Matthew Wile.

May 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Vice-President Matthew Wile is an employer trustee on the 32BJ School Workers Pension Fund. The Fund is conducting routine spot audits of the hours reported to the School Workers Pension Fund by the Dept of Ed. This is required by the Department of Labor and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The hours that you report on your PO-1s are the basis for the contributions to the Fund. The Fund has retained the accounting firm of Schultheis and Panettieri to perform this audit function. Shannon Carter, at Schultheis and Panettieri is in charge of this audit. If your assignment or a temporary care assignment you had is in the target pool for this audit, I request that you contact Shannon at the above email address and provide her with the mailing address of your assignment so that she may forward you the audit material. Please be sure to copy Matthew Wile,, with your response. I thank you for your anticipated cooperation.

I want to remind everyone that under the indirect system of custodial care in many respects you are considered the employer of the custodial workers. You are obligated to properly collect and transmit union dues for the people who are employed by you. If you have an opening for a Local 94 position, you are required to notify Local 94 of the opening and interview any candidates they may send. If you are a member of this union, moonlighting in another union’s jurisdiction, you are required to pay dues to that local.

Our union has made incredible strides in the past decade to improve our reputation with the general public, in the media and in political circles. Most of that is due to your hard work. We do a great job with inadequate resources. We have taken a proactive approach to media interaction and have become ever more active in political circles. Your participation in EPEC has allowed us to become a much more influential campaign contributor; I hope more of you will join.

It is important to remember we hold a very visible position of great responsibility. Please dress appropriately, especially when you attend meetings, hearings, trials and training sessions.

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.

March 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Our next regular meeting will be a Summons Meeting at which we will conduct a secret ballot election on the two proposed changes to the Local 891 By-Laws. A committee formed to evaluate four proposals recommended these two changes below to our Executive Board. The Executive Board then voted to endorse these two changes to our membership. At the February General Membership meeting, those members present voted to have a secret ballot on the two proposed changes as required by our By-Laws. Below you will find the proposed changes, along with the original language from our current By-Laws. I hope that you will attend the meeting and vote to enact these two changes.
Proposed Change to Local 891 By-Laws Article VIII Section 2
All amendments, additions or changes to these By-Laws shall be in writing to the Recording and Corresponding Secretary. The Recording and Corresponding Secretary will notify the Business Manager/President that a proposal has been submitted. The Business Manager/President shall form a By-Laws Committee which will consider all proposed changes and make a recommendation to the Executive Board. The Executive Board shall vote on proposed changes and send endorsed changes to the Recording and Corresponding Secretary who shall read same at the first regular meeting after being submitted, and if said amendments, additions or changes are approved by a majority vote of those present, the amendments, additions or changes shall be brought up at the next regular meeting following, for which a special notice shall be sent to all members in good standing. Any member having submitted a proposal that does not receive the endorsement of the Executive Board retains the right to have their proposal read by the Recording and Corresponding Secretary and voted on as stated above. The vote on said amendments, additions or changes shall be by secret ballot, and shall require a majority vote of those present and voting to be approved. The amendments, additions or changes shall then be submitted to the General President for his approval.
Current Local 891 By-Laws Article VIII Section 2
All amendments, additions or changes to these By-Laws shall be in writing to the Recording and Corresponding Secretary, who shall read same at the first regular meeting after being submitted, and if said amendments, additions or changes are approved by a majority vote of those present, the amendments, additions or changes shall be brought up at the next regular meeting following, for which a special notice shall be sent to all members in good standing. The vote on said amendments, additions or changes shall be by secret ballot, and shall require a majority vote of those present and voting to be approved. The amendments, additions or changes shall then be submitted to the General President for his approval.
Proposed Change to Local 891 By-Laws Article IV Section 1
Article IV Section 1. Officers, Executive Board members and Delegates shall qualify, be nominated and elected as provided by Article XXIV of the Constitution. Electronic voting shall be permitted as per Article XXIV Subdivision 1. Section (e) of the International Constitution.

Current Article Local 891 By-Laws Article IV Section 1
Section 1. Officers, Executive Board members and Delegates shall qualify, be nominated and elected as provided by Article XXIV of the Constitution.