I am writing this letter to you on behalf of the 1,500 CSEA 9169 members and their families that I have been given the honor to represent. CSEA 9169 are composed of the most hard working and dedicated workers this city has. They are the BACKBONE of the Yonkers Public Schools District’s education and functions. They are the Nurses, Clerks, Aides, Technology, Maintenance, Custodians, Bus Monitors, Safety Officers, and Food Service workers. They come to work everyday, mostly as unsung heroes, doing in part the job that goes unappreciated until their tasks are not completed; then their true importance is revealed. Ninety percent of our work force Live, Work and Shop in Yonkers. Most have been Yonkers residents for generations, having attended Yonkers Schools, met their lifelong friends and loved ones here, sent their children and grandchildren to attend school here, as well. Our members are invested in the City of Yonkers with no comparable comparison. Our members are Yonkers!
I am duty bound to represent and make sure the demands and needs are met by such a dedicated and hard working work force. Currently CSEA 9169 workers are working without a contract. It would be 3 years without a raise for workers who have a huge responsibility – the care, protection, and education of our future, our children, the students of Yonkers. It is even more imperative when you factor in the salaries of such a workforce. CSEA 9169 members of the Yonkers Public Schools live on meager salaries. The average salary of our members is $26,000 a year. For example, our full time School Aides whose duties are immeasurable receive $12.13 an hour, our Foodservice workers who feed our children receive $12.13 a hour, our Bus monitors who are out first thing in the morning (6:30 am) picking up our children and guarantee travel to and from schools receive $22 per run. There is more value placed on paying a fast food worker a living wage, than it is on those who sole responsibility is the care of our children, our future! That is the shame of it; it is disgraceful. Our Safety Officers, Custodians, Technicians, Clerks and Maintenance workers all contribute to a school district that COULD NOT FUNCTION without them showing up to work and performing their duties at such a high functional level. These are the WOMEN AND MEN who perform herculean tasks on a day-to-day basis to ensure the safety, security, and well being of our children while serving the Yonkers Public Schools. I have firsthand knowledge of the role our members play in maintaining the schools and YES formally/ informally teaching and guiding all 27,000 students! These Women and Men love and appreciate their jobs. The way they perform is nothing short of exemplary!
As so-called leaders of this City and School District, it is your responsibility to take care of the CSEA 9169 workforce. It is a slap in our face. It is arrogant. It is disgraceful. Knowing the IMPORTANCE and DEDICATION of CSEA 9169 and knowing CSEA 9169 have not been given a raise, a REAL LIVING WAGE, to people who you live next to, shop next to, are seen at the local gas station, and take care of your children and family members is unimaginable. For the record, it is unfair, unjust and morally wrong not to match the CSEA Members with a decent, living wage increase for the work that they do. Did we complain when the City Commissioners received raises over 5%? Did we speak out against the part time City Council Members received raises over 20%? Did any CSEA member mismanage funds? NO! Didn’t CSEA 9169 members ENDORSE Mayor Spano while he served in the New York State Assembly, as well as supporting his 1st and 2nd Mayoral elections? YES! To balance the budget on the backs of working poor, taxpayers, and citizens is a crime!
When we receive a raise, we essentially pay for it just by being tax payers and residents. For example, the recent sales tax increase affected our members while shopping in Yonkers. Have the Leaders of this City become so parochial that they hide behind numbers that don’t correlate to human beings and the basic well being of its citizens? Does anyone acknowledge that all of this is interconnected? Are we so removed from reality that we lack the understanding that when you open stores and restaurants, build malls, etc., people need a BASIC living wage and raise in order to patronize new businesses, and more importantly, to keep up with the increasing costs of food, clothing and housing? Henry Ford once said “I will pay my people enough money to buy my car”. Political Economics 101.
What I am saying is, if no one will stand with us, we MUST and WILL STAND UP for ourselves!!
Fannie Lou Hammer once said “We are sick and tired of being sick and tired”.
Join us in raising these imperative issues and others. Please call the CSEA 9169 office at (914) 378-4084 and join us to promote Accountability, Transparency and a FAIR CONTRACT!
Lionel Turner is CSEA 9169 President.