Brooklyn Botanic Garden Worker Wins Wage Hike and Back Pay

Local 374 member Claudia Navas.

Local 374 member Claudia Navas. Photo: Clarence Elie-Rivera.

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS

After eight months of labor-management meetings, DC 37 Local 374 has won a wage hike that adds about $1,400 to the annual salary of a Brooklyn Botanic Garden employee.

“I love this job and everyone who knows me knows that I love what I do,” said Claudia Navas, a Clerical 4 project coordinator who spreads the message that composting is good for the environment, leads workshops and offers technical advice.

A team player, Navas shoulders extra responsibilities to help out when Brooklyn Botanic Garden is short-staffed. But when she asked to be compensated for her hard work, she unearthed a problem only her union could resolve.

“I was surprised to learn that although I am the most senior employee, as a Clerical 4, I earned $1,285 less than my colleagues, who are all senior museum instructors. So I called my union,” Navas said.

White Collar Division Council Rep Dan McCabe said, “We investigated and provided support and some clout to get a pay equity deal done.”

The union resolved the matter without filing a grievance. Besides the pensionable wage hike, the settlement includes 18 months in back page. In addition, Brooklyn Botanic Garden agreed to pay Navas a differential for out-of-title assignments.

“We are happy management finally recognized Claudia’s good work and commitment,” said Local 374 President Leonard Paul. “The important thing is her wages improved and so will her pension. This victory is because we worked together and brought BBG managers to the table to respect our collective action.”

Navas added, “Without my union I would not have felt secure enough to speak up.”

“Members should know they are the union and they are critical to the process,” Paul added. “The union provides the backup and technical help to achieve pay equity and we protect members from retribution for speaking up.”

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