WPCNR MAIN STREET JOURNAL. From the Service Employees International Union 32BJ. UPDATED By WPCNR 12:33 PM EDT May 10, 2018:
The legal battle to win back employment for seven displaced White Plains cleaners took an unexpected turn on Tuesday night when county legislators accompanied workers back to their promised jobs.
On Friday afternoon, May 4, the workers’ union 32BJ SEIU received a letter from the legal representative of the contractor, Integrated Building Management / Greenway Maintenance, offering the seven cleaners their former jobs back, despite having been told a month ago that they were unwelcome because of their union affiliation.
(Editor’s note: the offer of jobs back came after the President of Caspi Development received a letter from County Executive George Latimer, asking the President of Caspi “to do the right thing” and hire the SEIU 32Bj dismissed workers back.)
But when the cleaners reported for work on Tuesday afternoon (May 8) at the building at 235-245 Main Street, accompanied by County Legislators Catherine Parker and Nancy Barr, the company told the workers that only four would be offered employment.
Legislator Catherine Parker, left, and Legislator MaryJane Shimsky, second from left above at the first SEIU protest over the firings, May 1.
Legislator Shimsky, in a telephone interview this morning with WPCNR said: “It’s absolutely terrible, forcing the workers to give up their union salary and benefits because they need their jobs. Hopefully the lawsuit(s) will go forward. The arrogance of companies and lack of respect for the law. It is certainly illegal and a violation of county law.
Now company leaders think that because the President (Trump) can get away with ignoring the law, they can get away with it with the rest of us.”
Frank Soults, spokesperson for SEIU 32BJ in a statement to WPCNR confirmed,
“The workers don’t have to resign from the union, per se, and yes, they took the work because they need to have jobs. We expect to be able to negotiate with the new contractor as the law (County Displaced Workers Act) provides, but they’ve refused to set a time to discuss anything.”
Soults explained the current situation to WPCNR, continuing in a statement”
- The three not re-hired are still hoping to get back their jobs. They are in the same boat they’ve been in since April 2.
- The owner has made no statement.
- We’re exploring the legal options to respond to this but I don’t have any response to report out publicly yet. I’ll let you know when I can!
Shimksy told WPCNR, the county could not sue Caspi or IBM/Greenway as the county because the law specifically provides only a private right to sue to enforce the law.
The workers were also hired at minimum wage instead of the contractual union rate, and offered none of their previous benefits. At the site, the company’s representative refused to set a date to discuss the matter further with the union.
“Integrated Building Management continues to flout the Westchester Displaced Worker Act by unlawfully limiting the rehiring to only four employees. It’s a huge disappointment,” said Lenore Friedlaender, Assistant to the President of 32BJ SEIU.
“We received a written offer of reinstatement on Friday afternoon, met with the workers on Monday, and attempted to return to work on Tuesday, only to receive this new rebuff. This appears to be a continued effort on the part of IBM/Greenway to evade their legal responsibility.
We continue to hope that contractor and the building owner, Caspi Development, will realize their moral and legal obligations. Until then, we continue to pursue our legal challenge through the National Labor Relations Board, which is investigating the matter, and the State Supreme Court, where we have lodged a lawsuit for violation of the Westchester Displaced Worker Act.”