2011 News Releases
October 7, 2011
Zita Allen, Communications
Mickey Melendez, L. 372
District Council 37 & NYC Board of Employees Local 372 denounce 700+ school worker layoffs
Unions hold news conference on City Hall steps demanding “Save our Schools, Save our Communities” and denouncing the city and DOE for laying off 700+ low-paid workers while spending millions on private contracts
(New York, N.Y.) – District Council 37, AFSCME, the city’s largest public employee union, along with NYC Board of Education Employees Local 372 which represents 25,000 employees at the NYC Dept. of Education (DOE), union members, community-labor allies, and elected officials gathered Oct. 7 on the steps of City Hall to denounce today’s layoff of more than 700 school aides, family paraprofessionals, community associates and other school support staff.
The workers losing their jobs are predominantly workers of color. The communities hit hardest are among the poorest in the city, including Harlem, Washington Heights & Inwood; the South Bronx; East New York & Ocean Hill; Central Brooklyn; and the Rockaways & Southeast Queens – where dropout rates are high, classrooms are overcrowded and school children need enhanced social services, not cutbacks. The city and the DOE spend billions of dollars on contracts with private firms – some currently subject to fraud investigations – while ignoring alternatives to layoffs of low-paid workers as the only way to balance DOE’s budget.
“The Bloomberg administration’s plan to lay off more than 700 school support staff on Oct. 7 shows a reckless disregard for the well-being of New York’s 1.1 million school children and their families. There were alternatives, and these layoffs did not have to happen,” said DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts. “Principals were mandated to make these cuts by the city apparently to close a budget gap. Yet when the union offered a proposal generating real savings to bridge the budget gap and save the jobs of these valuable workers, the city cut off discussions.”
“It is totally incomprehensible to me that, after we made a number of proposals that would have closed the budget deficit, the DOE basically refused to negotiate in good faith and there was no sincere intent to keep these people working,” said Santos Crespo Jr., president of NYC Board of Education Employees Local 372. “There is also an obvious racial and socio-economic disparity in the way the city produced the layoff lists. Most of the jobs losses would affect poorer communities that are already in need of critical social services and suffering with higher unemployment rates.”
The union has also discovered that even as the city moves to lay off these 700-plus support staff assigned to our most vulnerable schools, it has posted vacancies for the same jobs performed by these unionized public employees.
District Council 37 is New York City’s largest public employee union, with 125,000 members and 50,000 retirees.
NYC Board of Education Employees Local 372 represents 25,000 employees at the NYC Dept. of Education.