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Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

Get smart: Training at the union

White Collar Division local presidents at the advanced training included, from left, Harrison Campbell, Local 957; Magaly Rosario, Local 1655; Vincent Variale, Local 3621; Laura Morand, Local 2627; Henry Lane, Local 1251, and Rep Natasha Isma.

Advanced Training for Reps & Presidents

At a special grievance training for union reps on Dec. 13 and 14, some 54 representatives and local presidents were on hand to gain vital skills that will protect the rights and jobs of DC 37 members.

“Part of our union’s mission is to ensure that leaders and representatives are equipped to provide quality representation to membership,” said Barbara Edmonds, director of Field Operations.

Some 40 union representatives attended an earlier training held in November. On the first day of training, Associate General Counsel Steve Sykes explained how best to investigate claims and file grievances; present stronger defense and closing arguments at hearings, and ensure that members are aware of their Weingarten rights, which enable union members to be represented at any discussion, investigatory interview or meeting where they believe management’s questions could possibly lead to disciplinary action for themselves or another employee.

“I really enjoyed learning how to prep for hearings. It will help me improve the odds for my members so they will be happy with the final outcome,” said Magaly Rosario, president of Metropolitan Transportation Authority Administrative-Clerical Employees Local 1655.

“These sessions gave me advanced tools so I can really listen to what members have to say to get at the root of their problems and concerns,” said Local 957 NYC Housing Authority Clericals President Harrison Campbell.

Training is an important component in the union’s efforts to deliver better services and to protect members’ rights in the workplace and their livelihoods. The DC 37 “Leading the Way” program preps representatives and local leaders to provide quality representation and is vital to moving the labor movement forward in the post Janus era. Three training events took place in December at union headquarters to achieve that goal.

The union’s Associate General Counsel Steven Sykes discussed how to prep for hearings and protect members’ rights at work.
The second day of the intensive training was led by conflict resolution and mediation expert Jabari Osaze.

“Workplace conflicts should not undermine the solidarity of union members,” Osaze said. “We’ve got to get people to talk to each other. Better outcomes will build a better workplace and that makes the city and the union stronger.”

Members can enroll online for Osaze’s courses offered through the DC 37 Education Fund.

“This training was great,” said Ronaldo Barber, president of Local 1482 Brooklyn Library Guild. “I learned how important body language and facial expressions are when communicating and how to neutralize a conflict, reach a compromise and resolve the issue.”

“This training is very timely and exceeded my expectations,” said Henry Lane, NYC Board of Education Clerical Employees Local 1251 president.

“This union is all about the power of our members,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido. “To build a strong union, it is vital our reps and presidents be prepared to assist and lead our members and provide services.”

Marilyn Melendez, a citywide court reporter supervisor and certified yoga instructor, leads wellness workshop at Local 1070’s UCS recess training.
Local 1070 Court Recess Training 2018

Nearly 175 court reporters, interpreters and clerical workers in Local 1070 participated in the annual court recess training at union headquarters in December.

“This event speaks to the local’s strong relationship with the Unified Court System,” said Local 1070 President Fausto Sabatino. “This is our third year of court recess training presented by an outstanding group of respected legal professionals.”

Based on the success of previous trainings, Local 1070 and UCS agreed to offer additional training to state employees in Local 1070 who are mandated to use their comp time or annual leave while courts are on holiday recess. Court employees will be credited for attending the two-day training.

“Workplace conflicts should not undermine the solidarity of union members. We’ve got to get people to talk to each other.”

Local 1070 President Fausto Sabatino
Interpreter Tania Antero
Interpreter Ricardo Rodriquez, PhD

“The number of court interpreters attending has doubled, which is a good sign that the union is building solidarity among the members,” said Ricardo Fernandez, a Spanish language interpreter in state Criminal Court. Fernandez has a doctorate degree and also teaches at CUNY. He led a workshop on remote interpreting and technology.

“Interpreters are a diverse group who translate 143 languages,” Sabatino said. “They work to convey the true meaning, rather than a literal translation. UCS has a real shortage of these highly-skilled translators, which impacts my members and the court system.”

Attendees improved their skills at workshops on time management, career development, conflict resolution, workplace trauma, remote interpreting, and Case Catalyst and Eclipse software. They also discussed union building in the post-Janus era.

“I just started at Kings County Supreme Court. We are like a family. Our union has so much to offer,” said Resource Coordinator Ena Cadesca.

“It’s important that we are respected as professionals and as officers of the court,” said Tania Antero, a Spanish language interpreter since 1990. “We are all on the same team.”

“Respect and camaraderie make the many moving parts of the court system function smoothly,” said Sabatino. “In my time at UCS, I’ve observed that we all face challenges and the union is here to help.

When we show up with our best selves, we can achieve the best outcome. Local 1070 appreciates its dedicated members who bring their ‘A’ game to the job of making the court system run.”

Photo by Mike Lee
Local 3005 shop stewards attended an all-day training, which covered the grievance process and civil service law.
Local 3005 Shop Steward Training

The first training for shop stewards of newly-organized Local 3005 was an intense, one-day session at union headquarters on Dec. 12.

“Our agenda specifically catered to what our stewards need to know to better service our membership,” said Local 3005 President Jeff Oshins.

“When we formed Local 3005, we established a shop steward program and encouraged members to become more active in their union. We looked for volunteers. Our search was an easy one; we had no problem as dozens of members reached out to the new leadership in response to our call to action that we put out at our first general membership meeting back in September. I am proud to say six months later we were able to get our first training off the ground.”

The program gave the new shop stewards an overview of their responsibilities and how to best service members.

The training included an overview from the union’s Legal Dept. on Article 75 and civil service law; a step-by-step look at the grievance process; an explanation of the relationships between locals, DC 37, and its national union the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME); utilization of dues, and more.

Photo by Mike Lee
Local 3005 President Jeff Oshins and Vice President Samantha Rappa-Giovagnoli review information at the Dec. 12 training session.
Local 3005 represents 1,000 scientists, construction project managers, water ecologists, city research scientists, criminalists, graphic artists, and other professionals in 19 titles at the Office of the City Medical Examiner and at the Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene. The participating shop stewards average six to 10 years as city employees at DOHMH or OCME.

Many volunteer activists came to the union after successfully filing and settling a grievance.

“That firsthand experience and positive interaction with the union sparked an interest in helping other members get equity and fairness in the workplace,” Oshins said.

Samantha Rappa-Giovagnoli, the local vice president and grievance rep, attended the training and said, “This training is about union building. It’s about sharing experiences and helping our brothers and sisters so they can be better at their jobs. It’s about learning how I can give back and make a difference.”