Union wins fight to gain new members at the School Construction Authority

Chapter-Steps 1

Local 375 members, from bottom to top, Philip Killey, Charlie Komlo, Lorraine Barcant and Zygmunt Jagiello, served on a negotiations committee that led to an agreement between the union and the School Construction Authority that requires the SCA to meet its legal obligation to assign 40 percent of its design, drafting and inspection work to in-house staff. (Photo: Michael Givan)

By GREGORY N.  HEIRES

Forty-five professional and technical workers will be hired at the School Construction Authority thanks to an agreement between the union and the SCA.

The agreement was reached because of a lawsuit filed by the Civil Service Technical Employees Guild Local 375 a year ago to force the SCA to meet its legal obligation to assign 40 percent of its design, drafting and inspection work to in-house staff.

“The SCA’s failure to meet the 40 percent law has been a sore spot in our relationship with management for years,” Local 375 President Claude Fort said. “We are very happy to have reached a settlement. But it did take the lawsuit to get us here.”

In the past, Local 375 had trouble tracking whether the SCA had met the 40 percent law since the authority’s reports on the breakdown of its staffing of in-house and contract workers were unclear and — to the more cynical union officials and members — appeared to be written in a way to obfuscate the facts.

The local’s studies consistently found that the SCA’s staffing fell below the 40 percent threshold, but the authority always insisted it was meeting the requirement.

Unable to resolve the dispute, Local 375 felt compelled to file the lawsuit. DC 37 helped Local 375 cover the costs of the lawsuit, which was handled by the Lake Success, N.Y., firm of Greenberg Burzichelli Greenberg PC.

The agreement requires greater transparency at the SCA, which now must disclose the headcount of the in-house staff and contract employees who do design, drafting and inspection work.

“This really works out well for us,” said Zygmunt Jagiello, the president of Local 375’s SCA chapter.

Knowing that the SCA will adhere to the 40 percent staffing floor, Local 375 members will have a greater feeling of job security. Today, members still feel the sting of mass layoffs that occurred in 2003.

The layoffs of half of the design, drafting and inspection workforce resulted in severe understaffing, though the chapter has seen its ranks steadily increase to 265 members from 119 10 years ago. Also, Local 375 helped many of the laid-off workers return to the SCA.

Besides Fort and Jagiello, the union team that worked on the agreement included SCA Chapter 5 officers 1st Vice President Charlie Komlo, 2nd Vice President Philip Killwey, Secretary Lorraine Barcant and Senior Analyst David Moog of the DC 37 Research and Negotiations Dept. “Philip and Lorraine were the key people in analyzing the 40 percent data,” Jagiello said.

“There will now be a proper balance between the in-house staff and contractors,” Jagiello said. “We are thrilled about welcoming 45 new members to the chapter.”

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