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Volume 43 Number 8 September 2013

Ofcial Publication of Social Service Employees Union Local 371-DC 37 AFSCME, AFL-CIO


SSEU Local 371 members experience crisis on the job all the time. The Union has cultivated its resources to help. Heres how its working. Story on page 3.

17 Black Heritage Committee: 6:30 p.m. Union Ofce, 12th Floor 18 Delegate Assembly: 6:30 p.m. Advance Realty Building, 235 West 23rd Street in Manhattan 19 Next Wave: 6:30 p.m. Union Ofce, 12th Floor 25 Political Action Committee: 6:30 p.m. Union Ofce, 12th Floor Civilians in Law Enforcement: 6:30 p.m. Union Ofce, 12th Floor 26 Caribbean Heritage Committee: 6:30 p.m. Union Ofce, 12th Floor

Fighting for Our Health

1 2 3 8 9 15 16 17 21 23 30 HHC Chapter: 6:30 p.m. Union Ofce, 12th Floor Executive Committee: 6:30 p.m. Union Ofce, 12th Floor Black Heritage Committee: 6:30 p.m. Union Ofce, 12th Floor Committee of Concerned Social Workers: 6:30 p.m. Union Ofce, 12th Floor Womens Committee: 6:30 p.m. Union Ofce, 12th Floor Alumni Association: 2:00 p.m. Union Ofce, 12th Floor Delegate Assembly: 6:30 p.m. 235 West 23rd Street in Manhattan Next Wave: 6:30 p.m. Union Ofce, 12th Floor Latino Heritage Committee: 6:30 p.m. Union Ofce, 12th Floor Political Action Committee: 6:30 p.m. Union Ofce, 12th Floor Civilians in Law Enforcement: 6:30 p.m. Union Ofce, 12th Floor

Published monthly except for a combined issue in July/ August and a Supplement in January by the Social Service Employees Union Local 371, District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO. Subscription Price $2.00 annually. Periodical postage paid at New York, N.Y. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to: The Unionist, SSEU Local 371, 817 Broadway, N.Y., N.Y. 10003. USPS# 348990 (212) 677-3900 ISSN# 0041-7092 President Anthony Wells Executive Vice President Yolanda Pumarejo Secretary-Treasurer Juan Ortiz V.P. Negotiations & Research Rose Lovaglio-Miller V.P. Organization & Education Armenta Weekes V.P. Grievances & Legal Services Lloyd Permaul V.P. Publicity & Community Relations Patricia Chardavoyne V.P. Legislation & Political Action Michelle Akyempong Trustees Vincent Ciccarello Yolanda DeJesus Melva Scarborough Editor Ari Paul Visit us on the web at

ecently, there has been a lot of discussion surrounding healthcare, so Id like to briey discuss the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, sometimes called Obamacare, on the Unions welfare fund. As of this January, welfare funds with a prescription drug benet can no longer have a cap. Ours has a $4,000-per-member cap that will be removed, causing a severe nancial strain. For example, in cases where members may be dealing with severe illnesses, the drugs they need may cost between $100,000 to $200,000. If there are 100 such members it would cost the fund more than $10 million. This presents a challenge because there is only a set amount of money available and the City has not increased its contributions in more than a decade. The welfare trustees, attorneys and healthcare consultants have been working on this issue for the past three years. In the recent past, we have asked and been granted a waiver to retain the cap. As we move forward, we will keep the membership informed as to solutions that we believe address this problem. The Municipal Labor Committee (MLC) has reached an agreement with the City on the terms and conditions of the Health Insurance Dependent Verication Audit. Members are strongly advised to adhere to the provisions of the agreement. It should be noted that only members with dependents on their healthcare insurance will receive an audit letter. The deadline to provide proof of eligibility of dependents must be submitted by Oct. 4 (see page 7 for details).

We will...ght for our right to receive this basic benet.

Our Benets
In general, there has been a continuous dialogue about healthcare benets for City workers. There are many who are misguided and blame the Citys economic woes on pensions and healthcare. They go as far as claiming that City workers do not contribute to their healthcare, an outright falsehood. As the battle for healthcare wages on, we will stand united and ght for our right to receive this basic benet. Finally, as we went to press, the election season began with the primaries Sept. 10. We fullled our duty to vote and make our voices heard. There is a lot at stake, such as getting a contract that includes retroactive raises, cost containment on healthcare and more funding for the welfare funds. The issues of privatization and the civil service merit system are also crucial to our future, and we must remain vigilant, informed and ready to ght union-busting and attacks on workers. Those who seek to divide, weaken and destroy the Union, whether they are in the Union or outside, will be met with a collective and united ghtback. We will participate in our destiny and shape the future of the Union. God bless you and God bless the Union. Anthony Wells

The Unionist|September 2013


Using Our Job Skills To Help Our Members


We encourage all SSEU Local 371 members to join us in supporting former members Chereece Bell and Damon Adams when they return to court Oct. 8 at 9:30 a.m. at the courthouse at 370 Jay Street, Brooklyn.

or Richard Bond, a Child Protective Supervisor II based in Brooklyn, the idea had seemed perfect. Just before being elected SSEU Local 371 president, Anthony Wells approached Bond, a trained social worker with expertise in therapy, with the idea of doing mental health counseling for members going through traumatic situations. Bond wanted to put the idea into action. Bond, like more than two dozen other Union members, began to volunteer for what would become the Unions Crisis Intervention Unit, an arm of the Unions robust health and safety program, launching ofcially in March 2012. Since then the CIU has intervened in more than 30 separate incidents. Trained in helping the public, these members are dispatched to work locations where other members are experiencing crises. Bond,

an original member of the CIU, has been deployed to four interventions so far. The very rst one was a supervisor in HRA who lost her 9-year-old granddaughter in an auto accident, Bond said. The members were distraught about the way the child died, and the person was a beloved member of their team. They understand death, but sometimes they dont understand death when it comes to a child.

Trained to Help
Bond uses the same techniques in social work with the members as he would in his City job. It is perhaps a situation tailormade for SSEU Local 371: Our members are trained to help members of the public with their traumas, and our members jobs are themselves traumatic. So who better to help than their fellow members?

As Marilyn Clark, a Child and Family Specialist, explained, she brings her skills in doing group facilitations into the settings with members. As a person who facilitates group meetings it helps keeping the group focused and giving everyone the opportunity to say what they need to say. Clark noted that many of the situations for which she intervened were regarding a member who died, leaving co-workers in mourning. Unfortunately, she explained, management has often had a cold attitude toward members when a coworker has died. Its good to give them that opportunity to come together and talk about the person and how theyre feeling in terms of the person no longer
Continued on page 4

Richard Bond: Addressing grief and stress on the job for members who need help the most.
September 2013|The Unionist 3

Ari Paul

Using Our Job Skills To Help Our Members

Continued from page 3

being there, Clark said. Retiree Derek Saunders, a clinical social worker who has been active with the CIU from its inception, concurred. Management is not really concerned because theyre just focused on the work, not how their colleagues are feeling, he said. So it is very, very important that we can go in and speak to the workers. I have done some grief counseling and I nd that they are very glad that were there.

Our members are trained to help members of the public with their traumas, and our members jobs are themselves traumatic. So who better to help than their fellow members?
staff was really frustrated and not getting any support from management. CIU gave us an outlet so we could express how we felt, she recalled, noting that 30 percent of the staff came to meet with the CIU. She suggested that other work locations call on the CIU if they are having problems. If they feel like they have nowhere else to turn they should call on the CIU, she said. It brought us closer. Alexis Davis, of the Unions health and safety staff, said that the CIU has grown signicantly as word of it has spread throughout the membership. Ive been getting very positive responses from the people who have had the interventions, she said. provided training specically on crisis intervention before they went out into the eld. It heightened our skills, or gave us new skills, said Monroe. Clark believes that the CIU will be a larger presence in the Union in the months and years to come and that more social workers will be inspired to be involved in the CIU. As a part of the start-up committee, I did a lot of interviews for a lot of the members of the team, she said, noting that members who have encountered the CIU are telling their co-workers about it. Weve gotten a lot of people who are interested and more and more people are becoming aware of the Crisis Intervention Unit. So its growing. Saunders noted that the program is sure to grow, stating, I nd that some of the members really, really look forward to us coming. They really do. If your location is in need of the CIUs services or you are a licensed social worker who would like to get involved, please contact Alexis Davis at (212) 777-9000.

Death on the Job

Bond recalled other incidents of the CIUs work, including when a beloved member of an ACS site staff died suddenly in her sleep. The outpouring was overwhelming, he said of the members grief at the time. It reminded me of my own mothers death. People came in who knew her. It was touching. He noted that investigating these types of issues has also increased the ability of the Union to address other problems in the eld. When the CIU responded to a member at the Department of Juvenile Justice who was brutally beaten by an inmate, it highlighted the perennial issue of assaults on the job. And Bond recalled, I also responded to a First Ave. childrens center incident where one of our adolescents came in with a straight razor. But there were other issues there. We had to go down to put a lid on the emotions that were going on. This was not just a crisis intervention. This was an organizational issue. Staten Island-based Child and Family Specialist Marcelle Monroe recalled handling an incident in which workers at her ofce were accidently locked inside a windowless room. The members began to panic, especially after police were unable to release them. Fireghters were eventually able to break the lock, but needless to say the members needed to address their emotions after such a trying incident. I was able to meet with them and help them debrief and go through the process, Monroe said.

A Grand Plan
The CIU is also a part of a grander effort to address workplace concerns. For example, the Unions Next Wave Committee will host a stress-relief program members will be able to take advantage of. While all of the volunteers in the CIU are licensed social workers, the Union has

Feeling the Support

Brenda Cunningham, a Delegate at the childrens center in Manhattan, noted that the CIU was instrumental in helping a very stressed-out staff that often deals with sex offenders and at-risk youth. The
Dave Sanders

Marilyn Clark: Using her skills of group facilitation when her comrades need support.
The Unionist|September 2013

Writing to Inspire, and Working to Serve

axcine Worrell, a Job Opportunity Specialist based in the Bronx, didnt intend to be an author. In 2003, she was on maternity leave and began writing inspirational short stories and poems for her daughter to read when she was old enough. Her motivation was simple: Worrell had her own struggles in the past, like difculties in school, but was able to overcome that and she went on to graduate college with honors. Faith and hard work, can help anyone overcome challenges, she said.

I put it into book form, she recalled thinking at the time. Her drive to be an inspirational writer is rooted in her commitment to social services. Its beyond public assistance, she said of her job, which she has held since 2002.

Drawing on Experience
The passages reect on Worrells own personal struggles and ability to overcome them, as well as passages about others, including reections on historical gures and civil rights leaders. She hoped that members, who often struggle with things on and off the job, would be interested in the book. To me, what I see at work is that members come into work with the things in their lives. You can separate these things, she said, insisting that sometimes personal issues are brought into the work place. I see a lot of projection. Writing is also a form of inspiration in and of itself for Worrell. For me, the writing is more of a spiritual nature. Mine is a blessing from God, she said. The book is available through its website at

A Clients Vision
Then it hit her on the job. As a JOS worker, Worrell encountered many desperate and struggling people, some of whom fell into substance abuse and others who contemplated suicide due to the stress of being out of work. She began to give out her pieces in order to give her clients hope. One of them who had been deeply moved by her writing told her to publish them. So she did. Deep Impression is a collection of these works, which Worrell decided to self-publish. If I can change one persons life, I can help more people if

Ari Paul

If I can change one persons life, I can help more people if I put it into book form. -Maxcine Worrell

Summer BBQ!
Ari Paul

Stress Relief Workshop

Is your workload creating stress? Are you experiencing unfair treatment or bullying on the job? If so, the Next Wave Committees stress management workshop might be right for you. The Unions Crisis Intervention Unit is helping to produce this event. When: Sept. 19 Time: 6:30 p.m. Where: 817 Broadway, 12th Fl., Manhattan.

John Lisbon

Left: Executive VP Yolanda Pumarejo plays dominos with members. Right: Members and their families enjoyed food and sun.

THE UNIoN HELD its rst membership wide barbeque in Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx, Aug. 4. Members were treated to a wide variety of food and drinks, and families were able to

sprawl out, play sports and mingle on what was a perfect summer day. The plan was hatched by Executive Committee member Al Crossman, who hopes to see more events like this in the future.

September 2013|The Unionist


Organizing Around MLKs Vision

he massive convergence on Washington, DC Aug. 25 wasnt just a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther Kings famous I Have a Dream speech, but a recognition that in 2013, the United States must continue to work to achieve Dr. Kings vision of good jobs, equality and justice. Thats part of the inspiration that led nearly 150 SSEU Local 371 members, whose very jobs are inherently about addressing the social ills of poverty and inequality that Dr. King spoke about, to be a part of this historic moment. As members recalled, being around so many activists from around the country was an exhilarating experience.

SSEU Local 371 has always had a commitment to civil rights, not just the labor movement, given the role social services play in our society.

Since Dr. Kings time we have overcome Jim Crow, however, the country still suffers from other injustices. This summer the Supreme Court struck down a central part of the Voting Rights Act. A broken criminal justice system led to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, a verdict that shocked the nation and the world. Poverty and unemployment continue to ravage the country in a postLehman Brothers age, and most acutely harms communities of color. Worst of all, governors continue to downsize government, especially the social service programs like the ones that employ our members here in the City, at the time the country is gearing up for another foreign military intervention. As MLK famously said, A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.
MLK at the original march.

Jayme Steadman, a Sup I at ACS, recalled, It felt so good to come together as a union, being able to come back to where our forefathers went before, adding that it was momentous to meet other activists from around the country. Being in the nations capital was uplifting and gave us a real sense of hope. As a union committed to racial and economic justice it is impor-

tant to be a part of broader struggles and today our members demonstrated that solidarity, said Executive Vice President Yolanda Pumarejo. We must continue to show up and keep the dream alive. As a local union, our mandate in this broader struggle is clear. We can help elect candidates who want to serve the 99 percent, not Wall Street and the real estate industry. We can raise wages for workers and push for more social services. Thats why whatever SSEU Local 371 ghts for whether it is investing in programs to combat homelessness and provide affordable housing or to stop efforts to outsource public services to proteers we must keep in mind that our struggles are linked to the wider movement of achieving Dr. Kings dream.

A Unions Dedication
SSEU Local 371 has always had a commitment to civil rights, not just the labor movement, given the role social services play in our society. The late Charles Ensley, the Unions heroic president who led the membership for two decades, was close with countless civil rights leaders during his time in power. That is something that has stuck with SSEU Local 371 and will remain part of its mission.

This year workers traveled to the nations capital to rally for jobs and justice.
The Unionist|September 2013

Important Health Insurance Audit Info

ast month, SSEU Local 371 sent a letter to members informing them of the recent agreement between the City and the Municipal Labor Committee regarding

the health insurance audit. This was an issue of much concern for workers. Please consult the letter, reproduced below, to stay updated on the situation:

Members, The Healt h Insurance Dependant Vericat ion Audit (audit), the City to employees and ret ire sent out es was challenged by th e Municipal Labor Comm (M LC), because the Ci ittee ty failed to negotiate cer tain mandatory subjects bargaining. The M LC of collective obtained a Temporary Restraining Order from York State Supreme Co the New urt against the City, pr oh ibiting further impleme of the audit. Thereafter, ntation the City and the M LC met and an agreement reached to permit the Au was dit to continue under th e follow ing conditions: 1. T  he deadline to prov ide proof of eligibilit y of de pendents must be submi by October 4, 2013. Th tted is is an extension from the September 20, 2013 date. 2.  If an employee or ret ire e self reports dependen ts th at need to be removed by October 4, 2013 that em ployee will not be subjec t to A) recoupment of mo from premiums or claim ney s incorrectly paid, or B) disciplinary charges. 3.  If an employee or ret ire e submits proof of depe ndent eligibilit y by Oc deadline and their depe tober 4, 2013 ndents eligibilit y is denie d, there is a three-step process that ends with appeal an expedited arbitration . During the appeal proc dependent will lose cove ess, no rage. If after the appeal process a dependent is deemed ineligible, the ult imately City has indicated that it will not seek recoupm there is reasonable disag ent when reement(s) or misunders tanding(s) of eligibilit y. 4. F  urther, the condenti ally and privacy of submi tted proof will be protected. Once the pr oof is accepted, it will be de stroyed and the Citys consultant will verif y th e destr uction of the sub mitted proof. If there is any breach of condenti ality or privacy, the M LC , the individual or his/ her employee representat ive will have a right to le a lawsuit against th Citys consultant or its e subcontractors that rec eived the submitted proo f. 5.  I n addit ion, the City wi ll support legislation th at wi ll ensure no criminal charges will be brough t against any employee/r etiree if that employee/ ret iree self reports depe ndents who must be rem oved by October 4, 2013 . Also: If you do not have any dependents you wi ll not receive an audit let children who are depend ter. If you have ents who reside in a for eig n country they will sti ll be covered. Once the agreement is fully executed by the Ci ty, the M LC and the Bo Bargaining, it will be sub ard of Collective mitted to the Court to order the settlement. In solidarit y, Anthony Wells President, SSEU Loca l 371

Dear SSEU Local 371

September 2013|The Unionist

Condolences are extended to Stephen Alexander, Sup I, HRA/FIA Back 2 Work at America Works, 1600 Central Avenue, on the death of his mother, Estelle Alexander, who died in August. Condolences can be sent to Stephen Alexander, P.O. Box 761, Roosevelt, NY 11575. Condolences are extended to Migdalia Gonzalez, Sup I, ACS /CACFP, on the death of her father, Fernando Gonzalez, who died Aug. 12th. Condolences may be sent to Migdalia Gonzales, 66 John Street, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10038. Social Service Employees Union Local 371 817 Broadway New York, N.Y. 10003

Periodicals Postage Paid at New York, NY

Congratulations are extended to Rose Lamour, Sup I, at Queens CASA, on the birth of her grandson, Leonardo Abreu born Aug. 10 at 3:45 p.m. weighing 7 and a half pounds.

SWAP- Caseworker at HRA/HASA Hamilton Center #72, 530 West 135th Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY, would like to swap to HRA/HASA Waverly Center #13 at 12 West 14th Street, 1st Floor, NY, NY 10011. If interested, call (917) 628-3238. SWAP- Associate Job Opportunity Specialist at HRA/FIA at Center #66 in Bushwick, 30 Thornton Street, in Brooklyn, would like to swap to Center #70 in Far Rockaway, or Center #67 in Brooklyn. If interested, call (718) 963-5163. SWAP- Fraud Investigator II at BFI at 250 Church Street in Manhattan would like to swap with to BEV in Queens, Manhattan or Brooklyn. If interested, call (212) 274-4388.


Computerizing Member Benets

ThE UNIoNs Health and
Welfare Fund is updating its computer system, which will not only make for smoother sailing for all the hard-working folks in the ofce, but also make it easier for SSEU Local 371 members to check on their benets. The new system will allow for members to go online to look up the status of their claims. The user-friendly system will let members know where a check might be or how they can better use their benets. The Fund and the Unions computer team are doing double time to make the best system possible, said Union President Anthony Wells. Im condent that members are going to use this system when its up and running, and it will make it easier for all members to know where they stand. Check the Unions website for updates.

The Lillian Roberts Scholarship

The DC 37 Education Committee has established a new scholarship named for Executive Director Lillian Roberts. To be eligible, you must be pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree or be enrolled and have completed at least one year of study in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at an accredited college or university with a minimum grade point average of 2.75 or have completed the rst course in a certicate program at an accredited technical school with a grade of at least C. Your course of study must be one that will benet the community you live in or be in human services, education, health care or labor studies. The scholarship will be awarded once a year by lottery drawing at a meeting of the DC 37 Education Committee. For 2013, the application deadline is Nov. 1, and the scholarship will be presented in December. Applications are available from the DC 37 Education Committee, 125 Barclay St, New York NY 10007, Room 814, or on the unions website,

Welfare Fund Update

The Unions Health and Welfare Fund has a few important updates in regards to important benets members should make a note of. 1.  To replace a prescription benet card, please go to and register with your social security number. Print a temporary card and Medco will send you a permanent card in 10 days. 2.  If you move, please submit a new enrollment card at the Welfare Funds ofce at 817 Broadway, 15th Floor, Manhattan. 3. A  cceptable documentation for student certication: Copy of bursars receipt of a letter from the educational institution each semester certifying your dependents status as a full-time student. We also accept documentation from (nominal fee of $2.50).

The Unionist|September 2013