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PEP Jul/Aug 2009
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Public Employee Press

Local 372 rally battles layoffs
Solidarity at City Hall


School workers rally at City Hall on June 17.


Members of Board of Education Employees Local 372 and their allies came from all five boroughs June 17 to rally at City Hall and send Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg an angry message: Stop your plan to lay off 2,600 union members in September.

As the mayor’s executive budget proposed, the Dept. of Education is planning 5 percent across-the-board reductions in the funds for every school.

“Depriving these vital workers of their jobs is not the solution to our economic troubles,” said Local 372 and DC 37 President Veronica Montgomery-Costa from the podium, where numerous DC 37 local presidents and City Council members joined her.

“These layoffs are not necessary,” said DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts, as the crowd blew their whistles and waved their signs. “We’ve proven that with our white papers, which examined 10 contracts in eight city agencies and identified $130 million in savings the city can realize by cutting down on outside contracts with over-paid consultants and contractors.”

Support for the local, which represents School Crossing Guards, School Aides, Parent Coordinators, School Lunch Aides and many other titles, also came from DC 37’s national union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “We will rally every day to fight for our future and the children’s future,” said Lee Saunders, executive assistant to the president of AFSCME. Saunders also promised $150,000 in financial support for the battle against the mayor’s layoffs.

Members of Local 372 deliver an urgent message
to Mayor Bloomberg.

“Take away the School Aides, the Crossing Guards, and the Substance Abuse Counselors and you’ll have chaos in the public schools like you’ve never seen,” said AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer William Lucy.

Local 1549 President Eddie Rodriguez was one of many local presidents expressing his support for the school workers. “We are going to win this battle,” said Rodriguez. “This is the beginning of the fight, not the end.”

Claude Fort, president of Local 375, also addressed the rally. “You give the parents peace of mind, knowing that you are there to care for their children,” said Fort.

New York City Comptroller and mayoral candidate William C. Thompson was one of several elected officials who came to the rally to show their solidarity, along with City Council members Bill de Blasio, Robert Jackson, Leticia James and David Weprin.

“We are not going to let you stand alone,” said Thompson. “Our children need you!” said de Blasio.

Jackson had some advice for the mayor on dealing with the budget crisis. “Get rid of some of those outside contracts and you would have the money,” said Jackson, who chairs the City Council Education Committee. “Don’t tell me it can’t be done.”

Clotilde del Valle retired in May, but she felt she had to be at the demonstration. “We are the ones who feed the kids and cross them at the corners,” said del Valle, who remembers voting for the union back in 1971. “They have to be there for the kids.”



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