A Local 768 Member’s Grievance Leads to Promotions and Higher Pay for Coworkers

From left, Local 768 Shop Steward Shirley Williams  Alyson Helfand and Rep Janine Thomas. Photo: Clarence Elie-Rivera

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS

A victory for one advanced an entire unit of Local 768 members when NYC Health+Hospitals promoted nine Lincoln Hospital Social Workers to Level 2 and paid them over $20,000 collectively.

The promotions and pay increases resulted from the settlement of an out-of-title grievance filed by a Social Worker Level 1 who stood up for a promotion and back pay.

‘I was feeling underappreciated and that I was not being taken seriously,” said Alyson Helfand, a Lincoln Hospital Social Worker Level 1 since 2015. “I explored my options for help with getting the appropriate compensation for the level for the responsibility I have in overseeing projects and carrying a very large caseload for two years.”

Senior Council Rep Janine Thomas filed Helfand’s out-of-title grievance in March 2017.

“A promotion is not up to the immediate supervisor,” Thomas explained. “If a member works out-of-title they should file a grievance. The supervisor may recommend them for promotion. When the union attaches that to the out-of-title grievance, it can help our case and convince H+H Human Resources and Central Office to promote the employee.”

Helfand’s supervisor recognized her hard work and H+H settled the grievance at Step 2 in June 2018. Helfand got an upgrade and $2,000 in back pay.

“She has faith in her union,” Thomas said. “It took courage and her actions brought much-needed attention to a longstanding problem worsened by terrible staffing shortages at Lincoln.”

Helfand’s win led Human Resources to review the work of eight other Social Worker Level 1s at Lincoln.

In June, NYC H+H promoted them to Level 2. All are licensed and have master’s degrees in social work. Level 2 Social Workers’ responsibilities include evaluating and counseling individuals and groups independently. They earn about $4,000 above the $56,000 base salary for Social Worker Level 1.

“The supervisor recommended they all be promoted, but these social workers did not get any back pay for their out-of-title work,” Thomas said, “because they did not file grievances like Helfand did.”

“I feel much more appreciated. I see that the union really values me enough to take my grievance seriously,” Helfand said. “Without my union, not much would have changed. I’m proud that my action made a difference and impacted my coworkers for good.”

“The union urges any member working out-of-title to come forward and file a grievance,” said Local 768 President Fitz Reid. “The union is here to help members get any additional salary and title upgrades they may be entitled to.”

The DC 37 Blog is an official online publication of District Council 37, which represents 121,000 municipal workers in New York City and the surrounding areas.

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