YONKERS, NY — December 23, 2020 — As CSEA UNIT 9169 President it is my duty to represent my 1,500 members to the best of my abilities and to tell their side of the story. In recent events, Dr. Edwin Quezada Superintendent of Yonkers Public Schools announced that schools will be 100% remote during the week of January 4th to January 8th. As a thinking individual we understand the safety measures the Superintendent is taking because of the increased number of home gatherings during the holiday break. Covid-19 numbers will rise, and it gives people time to get tested and recognize symptoms. That week 400 Bus Monitors will go unpaid. Just as the week after Thanksgiving Break, 11/3012/2, Monday – Wednesday. During this holiday break, there are 12 working days, including the week of the pause our Bus Monitors will ONLY BE PAID for 2 of them- Christmas and New Year’s. Our School Aides and Food Service Employees will get paid for 7, they are able to work remotely during the week of January 4th-January 8th.
We have 414 Bus Monitors, give or take 360 are Dual Title Employees, which means they hold a job in the district as a Food Service Employee or a School Aide. A School Aide with 10 years in the school District makes $692.40, A week, BEFORE TAXES! A Food Service employee makes $346.20 a week, BEFORE TAXES, before health insurance is paid, before all other deductions. When they are able to do their Bus Run for a full week, it helps bring in an extra $258.00 a week, BEFORE TAXES and all deductions. These are hourly employees who work only 10 months, 182 days from September to June.
Since Hybrid has begun in October most of our Bus Monitors are only getting paid for 4 days a week because Wednesdays are only for a select group of students. Every time a school building closes our Bus Monitors go unpaid. Our School Aides, Bus Monitors, and Food Services are THE MOST VULNERABLE EMPLOYEES WORKING for YPS, and I may say in the City of Yonkers outside of hospital employees when it comes to exposure. They are definitely the most vulnerable economically out of all School District and City employees. They are the ones who actually live in Yonkers. Most can’t afford the rent Yonkers charges 1,700-2,000 rent for a single bedroom when they are paid fully from both jobs. You compound that now not being paid the entire month of September and our hourly employees have been struggling financially. They are on the verge of financially breaking down.
Yesterday, the YFT, our City Council President, and two Councilmembers (one being the Education Chair) put out a press release for a long-term pause for 100% remote learning for Yonkers Public Schools. Did any one of our Councilmembers consider the hardship it would put on CSEA members? The same CSEA members whose kids attend Yonkers Public Schools. The same CSEA members who live (pay mortgages and rent), shop, CARRY PETITIONS, AND VOTE IN YONKERS? NO! Did any of our Councilmembers and Council President secure funds from the Mayor, Governor, etc. for those who will be out of work if a long-term pause was approved? NO! Did any of the Councilצembers contact CSEA and ask how would a pause impact the members? NO! Did our Councilצembers discuss health care protections with the Yonkers Board of education (YBoE) for CSEA members who would be endangered of losing Health Care during a Pandemic if YPS decided on a long-term pause? NO! So, our City Council Representatives and City Council President made a reckless decision by not considering its real constituents! CSEA MEMBERS work, live, and have families that attend YPS.
I would like to think it was a rash and reckless decision, rather than a decision that our City Council members Do Not Care for the working poor of Yonkers, of CSEA. Either way this type of behavior and decision-making just put roughly 1,000 members, 1,000 families, 1,000 hard working Yonkers employees endangered of being HOMELESS. So, unless certain funding is guaranteed, certain health care protections are put in place then a long-term pause should not be the outcry because while those who make 100k salaries will be just fine nice and warm in their homes, those who make 30k or less will be out in the streets in the middle of winter with their children, YPS students in hand. Let’s all continue to be safe, let’s continue to socially distance, let’s continue to wear our mask, let’s continue to get tested. We must continue to live and continue our duties as Civil Servants to the best of our abilities during these times. As leaders we must make sound, educated, well planned decisions to POSITIVELY affect all, especially those who are most vulnerable.