In Reference to Articles Posted in LoHud, Yonkers Tribune, and Yonkers Rising Regarding the Court Order to Rehire the Former Department of Transportation of Yonkers Public Schools.
Over the past week I have been internally debating whether or not to respond to the articles written about myself, the Union I represent, and our practices. I have received numerous phone calls from colleagues and friends asking how I feel and whether if I am going to respond. My initial reaction was not to respond to such frivolous, fallacious articles and quotes on my behalf. After further contemplation, I decided I will respond, not to defend myself, but in defense of the 1,500 CSEA members who show up to work every day to serve, educate, and protect the students of the Yonkers Public Schools. It is my duty to protect their name and reputation when it is being attacked, especially when it’s being attacked with inaccurate statements that goes against the foundation of who we are and what we represent not only as a Union, but as individuals.
Neither I, nor anyone representing CSEA 9169 testified in this case. We did not attend one hearing, we did not submit an affidavit or testimonial to any lawyer, hearing officer, or judge. Therefore, it is preposterous for anyone to use the defendant’s fabrication and distortion as a direct quote from me and more importantly as fact. This to me states it is merely another political attack used by those in power to try and attack organized labor and paint us in a light where we are corrupt and parochial in our thinking. This is the furthest from the truth.
During the defendant’s time as Director of Transportation, the department was chaotic, unorganized, and left behind a lot of angry and unappreciated bus monitors who felt lied to and mistreated. Training CSEA members has never been an issue with CSEA. Actually, we have been on the forefront for years in our discussions with Department heads and the Superintendent requesting training for all our members in their respective fields and job titles, for job safety and increase their job skills. Our Officers proctored numerous transportation trainings on their own time without pay. We approached the defendant many times about CPR training and Restraint training which was never offered to our bus monitors.
The issue was with the scheduling of training. The defendant would schedule and call “mandatory” trainings (these trainings and times were not mandatory), with little to no advance notifications, during members unpaid holiday and vacation breaks, during members personal time without pay. These are a few of the issues we had with the defendant that needed to be defended on behalf of our members.
Another issue that needed to be addressed was on progressive discipline. During the defendant’s time as Director of Transportation, we saw a huge spike in bus monitor suspensions. There were no progressive discipline procedures in place at all. There were no investigations being held to look into allegations, complaints or accusations. Once a complaint was made, bus monitors with 10-20 years of service with good working history in the District were being suspended 30 days or more without pay. No investigation into the facts were being made. This was illegal and appalling. Wasting BOE funds on lawyers to suspend countless bus monitors for minute or unfounded claims.
CSEA Unit 9169 did not hire, nor collude to fire the defendant. We take umbrage that we would take the position to approve no show jobs or political hires. That goes against ALL we stand for. Neither I, nor my Officers will idly stand by while ANYONE unjustifiably attacks the hard-working members of CSEA 9169.
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Lionel Turner is CSEA Local 9169 President.