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Official Publication of Social Service Employees Union Local 371-DC 37 AFSCME, AFL-CIO
No Tier 6!
the governor’s Pension reform Plan hurts everyone
PerhaPs the biggest challenge facing all New York
public sector workers, including SSEU Local 371 members, is Governor Andrew Cuomo’s push for a Tier 6 pension for new workers. What this means is that new workers will have to work longer before they can retire, have a lower rate of contribution, and will not be able to use overtime and sick leave in their final pension payout calculation. According to the Fiscal Policy Institute, this comes out to nearly a 40 percent decrease in retirement benefits, especially as the Governor is also suggesting giving new workers the option of not even taking a pension and accepting a riskier 401(k)-like plan. “Their retirement benefits would be very insufficient,” said the group’s executive director, Frank Mauro.
Members rallied in Albany against the Governor’s plan to reduce pension benefits.
An Attack on All
But one thing needs to be made clear: This is not just an attack on new workers. This is an attack on all public sector workers. Not only will the new tier create a lower class of workers, pitted against older workers, but reduced pension contributions will hurt the general pool of money, adversely affecting the retirement funds of existing workers. Reducing retirement benefits will also ensure that fewer skilled and educated people will choose careers in public service.
“It is not just about the future. It is about right now,” said Union President Anthony Wells. He added that the Governor had placed the language of the new pension tier in the budget bill, thereby circumventing debate with the unions and placing the onus on the State Legislature rather than himself. Wells noted that in the past even if unions resisted new pension plans, new tiers were enacted after negotiations between the State and labor. “We have a Governor who’s decided that working people don’t matter,” Wells said, adding that Cuomo had joined in the
recent right-wing attacks on public sector unions nationwide. “If he gets away with this, there’s no stopping him.” So unions have been fighting back by lobbying lawmakers and embarking on a media campaign that explains the harmfulness of the Tier 6 pension plan. Some progress is already being made, as the Governor has indicated that he may be willing to take the 401(k)-like plan off the table, a move that has angered some of the Governor’s right-wing supporters. SSEU Local 371 is devoting much of its political power to winning this fight. “It is about the future of public unions in this state,” Wells said.
Assault Bill Strategy
Delegate Training, Part 2
Delegate Election Rules
20 Alumni Committee: 2:00 p.m. Union Office, 12th Floor 21 Delegate Assembly: 6:30 p.m. Advance Realty Building 235 West 23rd St., Manhattan 28 Civilians in Law Enforcement: 6:30 p.m. Union Office, 12th Floor 29 Jewish Heritage Committee: 6:30 p.m. Union Office, 12th Floor
3 4 HHC Chapter: 6:30 p.m. Union Office, 12th Floor Executive Committee: 6:30 p.m. Union Office, 12th Floor
no Way, no how
11 Women’s Committee: 6:30 p.m. Union Office, 12th Floor 12 Committee of Concerned Social Workers: 6:30 p.m. Union Office, 12th Floor 17 Alumni Association: 2:00 p.m. Union Office, 12th Floor Shelter Chapter: 6:30 p.m. Union Office, 12th Floor 18 Delegate Assembly: 6:30 p.m. Advance Realty Building 235 West 23rd St., Manhattan 25 Political Action Committee: 6:30 p.m. Union Office, 12th Floor Civilians in Law Enforcement: 6:30 p.m. Union Office, 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 Joe Nazario V.P. Negotiations & Research Rose Lovaglio-Miller V.P. Organization & Education Ingrid Beaumont 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 www.sseu371.org
overnor Andrew Cuomo has decided it is not sufficient to balance the budget on the backs of working men and women. It is not sufficient to diminish the safety net for seniors and disabled children who receive home care services. He has decided that workers hired in the future should have less security in retirement. The Governor has proposed creating a less generous pension plan called Tier 6, which would require future employees to work until they reach the age of 65, increase their contributions to 6 percent and possibly higher, and contribute for their entire careers. The rate of calculating one’s pension would decrease from 2 percent per year for the first 30 years to 1.67 percent. The calculation for the final average salary would be based on the final five years of service rather the final three years of service. Additionally, workers in Tier 6 would not have overtime calculated into their pension. Governor Cuomo has offered a 401(k)style plan future workers can opt for instead of a pension. These things are separate and unequal. A defined benefits program—a pension—pools our money collectively to ensure that we have security in retirement. A defined contribution plan—a 401(k)—is much more susceptible to the uncertainty of the stock market. If more workers opt for the 401(k)-type option, it would also draw funds away from the pension system, reducing the pension assets of current workers.
We are lobbying the lawmakers and our position is clear.
Ignoring Labor’s Voice
It is not only the Governor’s plan itself that is a threat to all unions, but the manner in which he is implementing it. He did not have discussions and negotiations with the unions. In previous changes to pensions, the employer and the unions have negotiated those changes. In this instance, Governor Cuomo put his proposal in the budget rather than seek a separate bill, forcing lawmakers to pass the budget with his plan in it or get blamed for preventing the government from operating. This is insidious at best. Labor is united and clear: Tier 6 cannot pass. The Municipal Labor Committee is launching a media campaign, and unions are educating and mobilizing their membership. We are lobbying the lawmakers and our position is clear. However, once again, if this or any campaign is to be successful, the membership must be informed and energized. It is important that the future workers’ pensions be protected as we protect ours. – Anthony Wells
The Unionist | March 2012
a spring Offensive
his month, SSEU Local 371, working with DC 37, took another giant step in pushing forward the Assault Bill, which would make assaulting a social service worker a felony. Members went to Albany March 6 to lobby State Assembly Members, as the bill has already passed in the State Senate. As the Union has recently said to media outlets, there has been an increase in violence against our membership since the economic downturn started in 2008. Nearly a year ago, a Fraud Investigator was hit in the face and suffered eye damage. Members who do home visits have been attacked by pit bulls and residents. An angry client attacked one of our members while on lunch break at a restaurant.
Skeptics of our bill fear it will criminalize the clients. That is false. It would simply create a deterrent for these types of attacks, which would protect the workers. Similar protections already exist for transit workers and traffic enforcement agents. The stall is in the Codes Committee of the State Assembly. So we are asking members to get in touch with the committee chair, Brooklyn Assemblymen Joseph Lentol, as well as Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Tell them that you are a social service worker and deserve the same protec-
tions other dedicated civil servants have. If we can get these two powerful lawmakers to support the bill, it would be a critical step forward in bringing it to the Governor’s desk. The membership IS the Union. Together we can—and will—win this battle.
-Michelle Akyempong, VP of Legislation and Political Action
Honorable Assembly Member: I am a member of Social Service Em ployees Union Local 371. The purpose of this cor respondence is to ask for your support on Bill # A4672. We are the front line workers who provide social serv ices to the most vulnerable children and families in New York City; from child protective services to public assi stance. In recent months, the number of instances of workplace violence has increased. Workers have been atta cked in the office and the field on a weekly basis. We are requesting similar protections in the workplace that hav e been afforded to our colleagues in the Transit Aut hority, Traffic Enforcement and Nurses. We are respectfully requesting that Thank you, Name: Address: SSEU Local 371 member you support this bill.
We know what’s happening. Since 2008, the population in need of social services has dramatically increased, while our staff numbers have shrunk, leading to job and benefit center overcrowding. Our members do work that has a substantial outcome on people’s lives, whether it is a parent who may lose a child or a person who may lose public benefits.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver 250 Broadway, Suite 2307 New York, NY 10007 Phone: (212) 312-1420, (518) 455-3791 Assembly Member Joseph Lentol 619 Lorimer Street Brooklyn, NY 11211 Phone: (718) 383-7474, (518) 455-4477
March 2012 | The Unionist
Photos pages 4 & 5: Pat Arnow
Delegates and Alternates listened to Union speakers throughout the day about important front-line issues.
he three-day Delegate Training in Stamford, Conn. in October was such a success that these dedicated, front-line activists wanted a follow up session. The Union brought nearly 200 Delegates and Alternates to DC 37 headquarters March 3 for an all-day training session that focused on key membership issues. “We’ve won some battles, but the war is not over,” President Anthony Wells told the Delegates and Alternates in his opening address.
Delegate training T
“And we need an army, and that army is the membership.” After the October conference, Delegates and Alternates expressed a desire to learn more about legal issues and the grievance procedure. The first half of this month’s event featured the staff of the Grievances section, who spoke at length about Weingarten rights, vacation policy, evaluations, and the difference between protocols at different agencies. Members also heard from the Union’s attorneys, including Gary Maitland, who spoke about the increasingly aggressive tactics the Department of Investigation has been using against City workers. “The tactics are getting dirty,” he said, noting that DOI investigators have been known to come to a worker’s home at 5 a.m. or wait outside his or her workplace. Maitland also told members that workers who withhold informa-
search and Negotiations Rose Lovaglio-Miller explained the bargaining process, and how Delegates, Alternates and the rank-and-file need to have labor-management meetings on site. She also spoke about tactics:
tion about colleagues’ wrongdoings or conflicts of interest can also be brought up on charges. The best way for a worker to avoid DOI trouble is to mind his or her own business, he said. Vice President of Re-
Shirley Gray, executive assistant to the president, rallied the membership.
The Unionist | January 2012 The Unionist | March
Come to management with three to five issues, not 15 or 20, for example. She explained that this approach made it harder for management to ignore Union demands and that if management addressed, for example, two out of three concerns, it would show that the Union was able to win victories. “It’s a game of chess.
It’s strategic,” she said. “It’s about doing what’s best for the workers on location.” Omoniyi Oladitan, who has been a Delegate for just a few months, said he was grateful for the recent follow-up training. “This is information I can give back to the workers, about their rights,” he said. He added that it was
important for Delegates and Alternates to stay informed, so as to keep the rank-and-file informed as well. “I feel that sometimes workers don’t know their rights and don’t know how to remedy that,” he said. “Workers should be aware of their rights. They should be afforded dignity at their workplace.”
VP of Organization Ingrid Beaumont and her staff organized the event.
Members from all over the City came and participated.
Union lawyers, from top left clockwise: Jill Mendelberg, Jeffery Kreisberg, Gary Maitland, and Jean O’Hearn.
With DOI, Silence Is Golden
ou have the right to remain silent… or do you? Most of us know about Miranda warnings from TV and movies. Hearing those warnings is the telltale sign that it’s time to call a lawyer and not answer questions. But Miranda warnings are not always required. They only apply when a person in custody is being interrogated and are not required in non-custodial encounters with police. Miranda warnings are not required in non-custodial encounters with City investigators either. But you still have other rights, and you must assert your rights or you waive them. When it comes to non-custodial police encounters, your rights may seem nonexistent. You have no right of notice before questioning, no right to be free from intimidation, verbal abuse or even lies, no right to be told that you may consult with an attorney, no right to be told that you can invoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. And all City employees are
March 2012 | | The Unionist January 2012 The Unionist
at risk of harsh, frightening, and relentless non-custodial interrogation at any time, any day, anywhere, at the hands of the City’s employee police, the Department of Investigation, and its agency specific Inspector General offices, known as IGs. DOI and its IGs have an important role, a mandate enshrined in the City Charter to investigate fraud, corruption, waste, gross mismanagement, conflicts of interest and criminal conduct. But because they have criminal jurisdiction, their very presence ushers in your Fifth Amendment rights.
When IGs come calling, it matters little whether you are a target or just a witness. They seek the advantage of surprise, they come in numbers, they come when you least expect it and they come at you hard. You will feel trapped, you will see no way out, so you will try to talk your way out. Don’t try! We have had members rousted from their beds
in the wee hours of the morning, confronted on the sidewalk as they leave home for work, or summoned by management to conference rooms commandeered by IGs. These are not custodial interrogations, not legally, but believe this, if they come for you it will feel like you are in custody, it will feel like you are under arrest. You will be “invited” to come to DOI, “just to talk” about job related matters, “just to explain your side.” They come in groups, they physically surround you, they insist on talking then and there, and they ridicule and question any request for time to think, or for the assistance of counsel. Call for a union representative or location delegate? Not with IGs. Investigators will be quick to tell you that you cannot have a union delegate present. The law says only lawyers can represent you when DOI or the IG seeks to interrogate; but you have no right to a phone call either. Hard to believe? Well, believe it, or wish you had.
Continued on page 8 5
Official Rules for 2012 Delegate Elections
A. GENERAL RULES: 1. The Delegate is the chief Union representative of his or her location and represents all members there regardless of title. 2. Delegate elections shall be held annually in May. 3. Delegate and Alternate Delegates shall be appointed in accordance with the Local’s Constitution; one Delegate for a minimum of 25 to 74 members, two Delegates for a minimum of 75 to 124 members and, in like manner, one additional Delegate for each 50 members. For each Delegate there shall be two Alternate Delegates. 4. Membership in good standing commences when a worker is on union dues check-off, or when a worker is both on “agency shop fees” deduction to the local and his/her “green card” has been received in the Union office. Membership in good standing is immediately established by direct payment of dues to the Union. Dues are payable monthly in advance. 5. Locations which do not hold elections in May will be considered to have unfilled positions, unless the Secretary-Treasurer has approved, in writing, an extension based on a specific problem. 6. Nomination meetings shall be held in each location with 15 days notice. Such notice shall be any Union leaflet distributed to the members in the work location or mailed to the membership, or notice prominently posted on bulletin boards, or published in The Unionist. 7. Nomination meeting notices shall specify the date, time and place of the election. The nomination notices should also specify the date, time and place of a run-off election should it be necessary. If the election dates, time and place are not specified on the nomination notice, a second notice must be given at least 15 days in advance of any election. 8. No funds of SSEU Local 371 or of any affiliate body shall be used to support the candidacy of any member for any elective office within AFSCME. 9. No publication sponsored by the Union or by any affiliate body shall endorse or support any candidate for elective office within AFSCME. 10. Any nominee for elective office shall have the right to have campaign literature mailed once to each member in good standing, through the Union office, but at private expense. 11. Messages on the Union tape (212-674-7670) for two consecutive work days will constitute official notice to all candidates. It will be the responsibility of all candidates to call the tape regularly in order to keep themselves informed. 12. Prior approval of the Secretary-Treasurer is required for a change in the composition of the work location. B. ThE WORk LOCATION ELECTION COMMITTEE: 1. The conduct of the election shall be the responsibility of the Work Location Election Committee (WLEC). The Committee shall be chosen at the nomination meeting and shall consist of no fewer than two (2) Union members in good standing who are not candidates for any position involved in the election. The members of the WLEC should be present at the nomination meeting. 2. The WLEC shall remain neutral on all issues and candidates.
3. The WLEC shall post on the bulletin board the names of the candidates nominated, the date, time and place of the balloting, and the names of the members of the WLEC. 4. The WLEC shall, as soon as possible, inform the Secretary-Treasurer’s office by phone (212-6773900) of the nominees’ names in the order they are to appear on the ballot and shall assist the SecretaryTreasurer’s office to identify the distribution points covered by their election. 5. The WLEC shall be responsible for picking up all election material including the latest membership run, ballots and report sheets from the Union office. 6. The WLEC should count the ballots immediately after closing the polls, but no later than the end of the day. 7. The WLEC has an additional responsibility enumerated under Section H (Certification of the Election). 8. The WLEC shall, immediately after the election, destroy all ballots which have not been used. 9. The WLEC shall maintain all records of the election for thirty-one (31) days, or in case of protests, for 31 days after the resolution of all protests. On the thirty-first day the WLEC shall destroy all the material except the membership run which should be given to the Delegate for the location’s use.
resentative (who must be an AFSCME member) as an observer. 5. There shall be no campaigning at the polls. No one at the polls (including those registering voters, distributing ballots, poll watching, etc.) shall indicate support for or opposition to any candidate within the hearing of anyone voting or waiting to vote. No candidate is allowed at the polls except to cast a ballot. 6. Elections are to be held for at least two (2) hours during the lunch hours or during the pay periods in conventional 9 to 5 locations. Wherever possible, elections shall be held all day. 7. For locations where there are shifts, voting must be available for some period for each shift. Wherever possible, the election shall be held throughout all shifts.
C. NOMINATION AND DECLINATION RULES: 1. Any member who is in good standing for six weeks on the date of nomination may run for Delegate or Alternate Delegate. 2. At the nomination meeting any member may nominate himself or herself or any other member. No second is required. The nominee need not be present. 3. Any member nominated for Delegate is automatically nominated as a candidate for Alternate Delegate. However, a member may be nominated and run for Alternate only. 4. A motion to close nominations is always out of order. Nominations for each office are closed only after three consecutive calls for “other nominations” go unanswered. 5. No further nominations shall be accepted after the close of nominations. 6. Every nominee shall be given an opportunity to decline. Declinations after the nomination meeting must be submitted in writing to the WLEC. A member declining the Delegate nomination will still be considered a candidate for Alternate Delegate unless he/she also specifically declines to run for Alternate Delegate. 7. If there is only one nominee for each open office, such unopposed candidate or candidates shall be declared elected, provided they fulfill all requirements for office. In all other cases, elections shall be by secret ballot. D. VOTING RULES: 1. Only members in good standing may vote. 2. Absentee or proxy voting is prohibited. 3. A standard ballot form shall be used at all locations. 4. The polls cannot be watched by any candidate. However, each candidate has a right to have a rep-
E. VOTING PROCEDURES: 1. In order to receive a ballot, the member’s name with Union Designation (Code UA or UX in Pay Grade Column) must appear on the membership run provided by the Union Office. Any other code (AA, A, S, or X) denotes Agency Fee payer or NonMember and, therefore, renders one ineligible to vote unless the WLEC confirms that a “green card” has been received in the Union Office. In HHC an Agency Fee payer is identified by the number 9 in the first column after the name on the printout or by an asterisk (*) on the pay stub. 2. The member must sign the membership run next to his or her name and will then receive a ballot. 3. If the member’s name is missing or an ineligible code appears, he/she must submit a paystub showing “U” beside dues deduction or Union membership must be verified by phone through the Union office. Upon receiving proof of membership, the WLEC shall print his/her name and social security number on the membership run, and indicate how membership was certified. The member must then sign next to his/her name before receiving a ballot. F. COUNTING RULES: 1. Each candidate has a right to one (1) representative (who must be an AFSCME member) to be present at the counting. 2. The number of ballots cast should not exceed the number of signatures. 3. Write-in votes, blank ballots, and signed ballots are void. 4. A vote is valid if a member votes for the same candidate in both Delegate and Alternate columns. The two marks shall be considered as one vote for said candidate as Delegate. 5. Use common sense if the intentions of the voter are clear; count the vote. 6. The Delegate votes shall be declared and counted first. When counting for Alternate any member who ran for Delegate and lost shall have the Delegate votes received added to the Alternate votes received to make his or her Alternate total. 7. In the case of a tie, a runoff shall be held at the request of any involved candidate. Any alternate method acceptable to all these candidates is permissible (e.g. lot, flipping of a coin, drawing straws, etc.). Fifteen days notice of run-off elections must be given.
The Unionist | March 2012
G. PROTESTS AND APPEALS: 1. Protests must be made in writing to the WLEC by a member of the work location within ten (10) days. In case of such protests, all interested parties shall be afforded an opportunity to be heard and a decision shall be made by the WLEC in writing within thirty (30) days after the filing of the protest. 2. In any election where an agreement of the count cannot be reached, this problem shall immediately be brought to the attention of the Secretary-Treasurer where a ruling will be made. 3. In case of an outright violation of the Constitution, a reelection may immediately be ordered by the Secretary-Treasurer. 4. Any protestant adversely affected by a WLEC decision may file a written appeal with the SecretaryTreasurer within ten days after the decision, or, if no decision has been rendered, within forty (40) days after filing the original protest with the WLEC. Upon receipt of such an appeal, the Secretary-Treasurer shall refer it to the Central Election Committee (CEC) to conduct an investigation, affording all interested parties an opportunity to be heard and a recommendation shall be made in writing to the Secretary-Treasurer within thirty (30) days. (The CEC is composed of two representatives from each Chapter with the Secretary-Treasurer serving as Chairperson. However, no person may serve as a member of the CEC in any election in which he/she is a candidate.) 5. Any further appeals may be made to the Judicial Panel in accordance with the AFSCME Constitution and Judicial Panel rules.
6. If a protest is being considered before the WLEC has certified the election, incumbents shall remain in office until the WLEC certifies the election. If the election has been certified the newly elected Delegates and Alternates remain in office until a new election is held.
order of the number of votes received. If members desire to yield their rank they must do so in writing to the Secretary-Treasurer.
h. CERTIFICATION OF ThE ELECTION: 1. The newly elected Delegates and Alternates take office immediately upon the certification of the election by the WLEC. 2. The WLEC shall post the election results on the bulletin board. 3. The WLEC shall submit the results of the local election in writing to the Secretary-Treasurer of the Union immediately after counting. This report must include: a. A copy of the ballot used including totals received by each candidate; if the election is uncontested, a work location membership list including Social Security numbers. b. The winners’ names, home addresses, social security numbers, home telephone numbers, work location with their addresses and work telephone numbers. c. The signatures and work phone number of the WLEC members. 4. The location shall be considered without Delegates by the Secretary-Treasurer until the report is received. When received, the report will be accepted subject to review by the Secretary-Treasurer. 5. Delegates and Alternates shall be ranked in
I. INTERIM DELEGATE ELECTIONS: 1. A Delegate transferred to a new work location shall continue as Delegate from his/her former location for a period of thirty (30) days or until such former location shall elect a new Delegate, whichever shall occur first. 2. In the event an interim election is needed for vacated Delegate or Alternate positions, said election shall be for the total number of vacant offices for the remainder of the unexpired term. No Alternate moves into a Delegate position automatically, but must be voted on. Incumbent Delegates move into the next higher available Delegate position. (Incumbent Alternates move into the next higher available Alternate position.) The election will then be held to fill the total number of remaining positions. 3. Alternates must resign their position as Alternates if they wish to run for a vacant Delegate position. This is to insure to the members the right to fill all vacancies at the same time. 4. However, if an incumbent Alternate resigned to run for a vacant Delegate position and is not elected Delegate, but is reelected Alternate, his/her rank among the Alternates shall be as if he/she had not resigned to run for Delegate.
On the frOnt lines
“all POlitics is lOcal,”
Democracy in Action in the Bronx
Tip O’Neill famously said. That’s where SSEU Local 371 member Aurea Mangual comes in. A Community Coordinator at the Office of the Bronx Borough President, Mangual got her start in the office in 1989, helping people with their housing problems, as she had previously worked in housing management. Now, she acts as a liaison between the office and four Community Boards in the Bronx, going to evening meetings on a regular basis and forming relationships with board members and residents. “I bring his message to the people, and I bring the message back from the people to the Borough President,” Mangual said. In addition, she interviews applicants for the Community Boards and makes recommendations to the Borough President about who to appoint. It is a job that requires a lot of social skills, which Mangual has. But, it also has challenges. Whenever controversial issues come up at Community Board meetings,
March 2012 | The Unionist
Bronx, although she noted that she has the option to call a car service and get reimbursed. Fortunately, she has a lot of friends who give her rides home. Doing this kind of work has taught Mangual about the importance of local democracy. “The residents need to be more informed of what’s going on in the communities,” she said. “They need to be active in the elections, in the business in their neighborhoods, and the schools.”
She added, “The Borough President wants younger people to participate in the boards, to get involved in their communities. He wants people to care about where they live.” Mangual also noted that being active in the Union makes her better at public service. “Engaging in the Union makes you become more knowledgeable and you care more about your job,” she said. “We solve problems for the community, the residents, and the City at large.”
Aurea Mangual: Getting people involved in local issues.
arguments can get heated with emotions running high. She also doesn’t like having to go home late at night by herself in the
Condolences are extended to Nola Russell-Booker, Director at DC 37’s Professional Division on the death of her mother, Willie Mae White, who died in February. Condolences may be sent to Nola Russell-Booker c/o Professional Division, Room 410. 125 Barclay Street, NY, NY 10007. Condolences are extended to Family and Friends of Samuel Walton, Job Opportunity Specialist in HRA/FIA Unit at the Union Square Job Center #39, who died in February. He was the uncle of Kelli Walton, who works at the East End Job Center (2322 Third Avenue, NY, NY 10035). Condolences may be sent to Sonia Walton, 1647 1st Avenue, #3A, NY, NY 10028. Condolences are extended to Doris Aiken, Child Protective Specialist II at 92 1st Avenue in the pre-placement Unit in Manhattan, on the death of her mother, Doris Aiken Mishoe, who died Feb. 17. Condolences may be sent to Doris Aiken, 224 New Lots Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11207. Condolences are extended to Gwendolyn Brady, Associate Fraud I at HRA/BEV at 250 Livingston Street in Brooklyn, on the death of her mother, Juanita Henderson, who died Jan. 22. Condolences may be sent to Gwendolyn Brady, 218-26 113th Street, Queens Village, NY 11429. Condolences are extended to Ana Bravo, Fraud Investigator II at HRA/BEV at 250 Livingston Street in Brooklyn, on the death of her mother, Angela Hernandez, who died Jan. 23. Condolences may be sent to Ms. Ana Bravo, HRA/BEV UNIT, 250 Livingston Street, 6th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201.
Periodicals Postage Paid at New York, NY Social Service Employees Union Local 371 817 Broadway New York, N.Y. 10003
With DOI, Silence Is Golden
Continued from page 5
Congratulations to Leopoldo Guillard, at Rider Job Center #38 in the Bronx, who will retire May 18 after 23 years in service. Congratulations to Bobbie Zimmerman, Sup I at the HRA/ LTHHCP, who retired in January after 26 years of service. Congratulations to “Marvelous” May Wellington Glispy, at the Office of the Manhattan Borough President, who retired in January after 22 years and nine months of service.
So what’s the remedy, what can you do when confronted by a somber, and scary, team of IGs, or even the occasional group of friendly acting ones? You do have a remedy, a powerful remedy, a winning hand. You have the protection of the U.S. Constitution, you have the privilege against self-incrimination because of the Fifth Amendment. While you have no right to be free from investigation, or from interrogation, your City employment does not deprive you of the right to remain silent. You can defeat the IG, buy time to get expert legal advice and counsel and you can choose the time and place of questioning, all this if you simply “take the Fifth.”
ThE UNION MEMBERShIP hAS ELECTED Delegates and Alternates to the AFSCME Convention this summer, as well as four new Trustees. They are: Delegates: Anthony Wells (automatic), Michelle Akyempong, Omogo AwannaWheeler, Ingrid Beaumont, Sheryl Calderon, Patricia Chardavoyne, Vincent Ciccarello, Eugene Jones, Bertha Joyner, Kirby Lindell, Rose Lovaglio-Miller, Aurea Mangual, Mary Myers, Joseph Nazario, Lloyd Permaul, Yolanda Pumarejo, Efrain Quintana, Kathy Sabater, and Sadie Sanders. Alternates: Matthew Akinola, Hector Austin, Theodore Baker, Richard Bond, Geraldine Bryan, Alfredo Crossman, Brenda De Fares, Trevor Gibbs, Richard Gross, Tanya Hatcher, Juanita Ingram, Esuabana Moses, Sylvia Quinones, Miriam Ramos-Ortiz, Elma Reeves, Derek Robinson, Eduardo Sanchez, Derek Saunders, Thomas Schechter, and Eric Seroy. Trustees: Hiro Ciprian, Alexander Elias, Cassandra Hendricks, and Michelle Woody.
knowing the ‘Fifth’
We are conditioned to think that the Fifth Amendment is for criminals and that by invoking its protection we somehow confess wrongdoing. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Fifth Amendment applies to all citizens whenever they are subject to interrogation by criminal investigators and its scope is incredibly broad, its reach nearly unlimited. You may invoke the Fifth whenever a truthful answer might tend to implicate you in a crime. Even the simplest, most innocent fact can enjoy Fifth Amendment protection. If the IG asks you as simple a question as whether you were in New York State yesterday, a truthful answer might tend to incriminate, so you can, and should, “take the Fifth.” You can, and should, refuse to answer. Since you don’t know what they are investigating, and they won’t tell you, a truthful answer might tend to incriminate you, innocent or not. If a crime was committed in New York State yesterday, then admitting you were in
the state is giving an answer that might tend to incriminate even the innocent. So you can, and should, refuse to answer by taking the Fifth. Since you don’t know what they are investigating, and they won’t tell you until its too late, the best answer, the only safe answer, is to refuse to answer. When confronted by criminal investigators, alone and without legal counsel, silence is indeed golden. Time and time again, we see members arrested, or faced with serious disciplinary charges, when the best evidence against them, sometimes the only evidence against them, are their own statements. When investigators start questioning you, do not ask them “am I in trouble?” or anything else for that matter. They do not have to be truthful with you. And they will make you feel that you might not be in trouble if you just tell them your side of the story. Do not ask them, “Do I need a lawyer?” They will usually tell you it’s not necessary or make you feel like there might be more trouble if you do. But it’s more trouble for them, because getting an incriminating statement out of you is easier if you don’t have counsel and don’t assert your right to remain silent. So if in doubt, shout it out: I want a lawyer, I refuse to answer, I’m taking the Fifth. Then call the Union. We have lawyers with decades of experience in IG investigations on call. They will protect you, protect your rights and protect your job. –Lloyd Permaul, VP of Grievances and Legal Services
The Unionist | March 2012
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