To All Directors/Legislative Directors:
It appears that attempts to diminish the collective bargaining rights of public employees continues. Such is the case with vaccine mandates, about which many agencies have neglected to negotiate with their unions and have decided to unilaterally implement policies impacting their employees’ terms and conditions of employment. NYSPEC advised those unions that were experiencing this to file improper practice charges.
I now wish to bring to your attention yet another issue which we all need to be mindful of, in order to show our support for the affected members.
Many of you may have read about the conditions that Correction Officers in New York City and across the state have been forced to work under. I have been informed by the leaders of Correction personnel about the jail violence that has skyrocketed, as evidenced by the countless number of officers being assaulted on a daily basis. Compounding this situation, as a result of staffing issues, Correction Officers are not being afforded proper meals or adequate rest to enable them to perform their duties properly, and oftentimes are being forced to work triple shifts. Not too long ago, NYC Mayor de Blasio stated that triple shifts would no longer be allowed. However, he lied. They have not stopped, and they continue today, creating, at the very least, an unsafe but exceedingly dangerous work environment.
While we understand that the pandemic has caused unforeseen problems and has impacted the economy, it cannot be an excuse for anyone to disregard the rights of union members. However, the main reason for the current problems that exist within the jails is the lack of hiring of new correction officers. This has caused severe staffing shortages, which has resulted in hundreds of assaults on staff and the ordering of triple shifts.
Now, on top of the issues caused by inadequate and unsafe staffing, NYC Mayor de Blasio has ordered the Department of Corrections to hire private security to take over the jobs of approximately 150 NYC Correction Officers whose duties include securing the perimeters of Rikers Island. Had he authorized critically necessary hiring this issue would not exist.
It must be noted that this would be illegal, because a bill was signed into law in 2007 by then Governor Pataki which prohibited the privatization of NYC Correction Officers’ positions.
What makes this a paramount issue for all of us is, once management succeeds in unilaterally privatizing a segment of union jobs in one agency, the die will be cast for them to go on to another agency to do the same. We must stand together and fight back any attempt to unilaterally privatize any union job.
For years we have been standing against any form of unilateral privatization, and we must continue to do so. NYSPEC’s Legislative Agenda has long opposed the corruption and loss of jobs caused by privatization.
Peter D. Meringolo