Union President Sonja Shield
To: Executive Director Raun Rasmussen, Bronx Project Director Jane Aoyama-Martin, Queens Project Director Nadia Gareeb, Manhattan Project Director Peggy Earisman, Brooklyn Project Director Meghan Faux, Staten Island Project Director Nancy Goldhill
Date: 2018-07-24 10:11
Dear Raun, Meghan, Peggy, Jane, Nadia, and Nancy:
I’m writing regarding the expanding management practice of granting union members the right to take leave from the union to become management. LSNYC management has increasingly been granting union members the right to take a leave from the union to become management. Once an occasional occurrence, it has recently become standard practice for virtually every – if not in fact every – person who is promoted to management. It appears these leaves also are no longer limited to one-year leaves-as-of-right for members who have been at LSNYC for four years, but are now increasingly discretionary leaves given to staff who have not been at LSNYC for any minimum number of time. Under the contract, discretionary leaves can be for any length of time, and are not limited to one year.
Recently, Manhattan Legal Services promoted three staff attorneys to management positions and offered all three 2-year discretionary leaves of absence from the union (later rolled back to one year). Even more recently, we have just learned that Brooklyn Legal Services granted a number of attorneys two-year discretionary leaves and is currently entertaining requests to extend their leave even longer.
The effect of these “leaves” is that if LSNYC faces layoffs in the future, these managers could attempt to protect themselves against layoff by coming back into the union, bumping more junior staff and possibly forcing the layoff of those junior staff members. Management’s increasing use of discretionary leave also means that in the future every single manager could be on a discretionary leave of indefinite length, retaining forever their right to come back into the union and force the layoff of more junior staff, while also curtailing the right of other staff members to take discretionary leaves for other reasons.
We are extremely concerned about this practice and have attempted unsuccessfully to negotiate a compromise approach, both with Meghan and with Raun. We have therefore over the last several months taken up this question with the union delegates.
The union delegates and I wish to communicate to your leadership team that the union does not consent to this practice. We believe this is an abuse of the CBA, and that the CBA language regarding leaves were not intended to give managers the right to be on leave from the union for extended periods of time while serving as managers at LSNYC and then return and supplant current union members. If LSNYC grants leaves to people becoming managers, and then attempts to allow those managers to come back into the bargaining unit with seniority, we will fight and if necessary arbitrate it.
At the same time, we understand and appreciate the value to encouraging a path to promotion and professional development, and recognize that having the ability to test out a manager role for a limited period of time can be beneficial. We are open to sitting down with you to negotiate reasonable limits that will facilitate this without prejudicing union members and undermining the union.