CSBA Annual Meeting Scheduled

Our Annual Meeting has been scheduled for Thursday June 24, 2021 at 6PM. Scheduled Guest Speakers include Natalie Luongo of the National Student Debt Reduction Center and Natalie Cuchel of Gallagher, which is coordinating the rollout of this exclusive member benefit. Also expected to be present is Health & Safety expert Susan McQuade. Pre-registration required. Please email csbainfo@local237.org.

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Congratulations to Recently Elected CSBA Officers, Directors and Trustees

The following CSBA members were duly nominated and elected without opposition on Wednesday May 12, 2021 to represent you, our Agency Attorney colleagues:

Officers, Class of 2024: Saul Fishman (DOF), President; Lester Paverman (NYPD), First Vice President; Michaele Bober (DSS), Second Vice President; Kevin Hsi (HPD), Corresponding Secretary; Ka Ng (NYCHA), Recording Secretary; and Abbe Kalnick (ACS), Treasurer.

Directors, Class of 2024: Kiiru Gichuru (CCHR); Brigitte Rajacic (NYCHA); Robert Spiesman (DSS); Renee Storey (TLC); Bernard Tordesillas (DOF); Helen Thomas Tsalevich (DOB); and Vincent Verdi (NYPD).

Welfare Fund (Security Benefit Fund) Trustees, Class of 2023: Gladys Egwuonwu (DSS) and Michele Mirro (DOF).

FYI – CSBA Officers and Directors meet almost every month, and Welfare Fund Trustees meet quarterly. Kindly note that whether or not you have a member of the Board of Directors in your agency or location, you may always contact us directly at the CSBA office via csbainfo@local237.org or csbainfo@local237.com [these email addresses are monitored by all of us], or at (212) 675-0519 x 5.

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Coronavirus Update

Updated leave guidance 
Annexed are three DCAS documents and one NYCHA document for your reference:

CSBA continues to advocate for the ability of our members to telecommute whenever possible. Even when the pandemic finally ends (and we’re most definitely not there yet), we want the option to work from home at least part-time. So much of what we do can be performed at least as effectively and efficiently away from the noise and distractions of the office, as demonstrated by the results over the past year.

The sudden rush back to the office, as ordered by City Hall, makes little to no sense in the context of what most of us do and how we perform it. Many of us will still be appearing at hearings remotely for months to come. Working from low cubicles in large open rooms with many other employees, such as in 4 World Trade Center for our colleagues at the Department of Social Services/ HRA, and in Lefrak City for our Department of Environmental Protection colleagues, and in too many other situations to mention here, only to have to struggle to hear and be heard at remote hearings, over our neighbors who are appearing at separate hearings from nearby cubicles, makes absolutely no sense!

What about the needs of families with young children? Not everyone is ready to send their children back into a group setting. Should these dedicated, hard-to-retain colleagues be forced to consider leaving city employment rather than being allowed to work effectively from home until September?

The pandemic is still here. New potentially more dangerous and more transmissible variants are being discovered here in New York. Not all of us have been able to be fully vaccinated yet. Ditto our loved ones. And we’re not even sure how effective the vaccines will be against these new variants. Indeed, infection rates are increasing again, and there may be another surge shortly. What is to be gained by forcing us to get on crowded buses and trains and elevators instead of continuing to perform the work effectively from home for a few more months, until the experts tell us that it is safer to resume normal activities?

We have objected to this incompletely-developed “Return to the Office” plan, both in the recent meeting between City Hall and the Municipal Unions, and in a follow-up letter to Deputy Mayor Anglin. We must be provided with ample opportunity to review and propose changes to each agency’s plan BEFORE City Hall approves such plans and Before they are implemented! We must see the supporting documentation for each location where our members work.

There is a lot for our health & safety experts to review, starting with what is the ventilation system’s air exchange and filtration capacity.  And there need to be walk-throughs and Question & Answer sessions by each agency for our members and for the union.  We will be working with other unions, utilizing every tool at our disposal to try to keep you as safe as possible, and ask that you keep us apprised at csbainfo@local237.org of dangerous conduct or conditions.

Ultimately, we ask our employer, the City of New York, to rethink, revise  and reschedule for everyone’s benefit. Does the City really want to risk making the same or similar mistakes as happened after the rush back to the office following the 9-11 terrorist attack? It is a fact that more people have died subsequent to 9-11 from illnesses related to airborne particles than during the World Trade Center attacks themselves. So many of us know people who have become ill or even died from this pandemic.

Waiting a few more months makes way more sense, as our Mayor recently pointed out to the Governor with respect to the reopening of fitness classes and expanding indoor dining. We hope that cooler heads prevail, and that the experts are listened to.

Please remember to immediately apprise us of unsafe situations. 

CSBA Covid-19 Health and Safety Complaint Form

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Paid Family Leave is Here!

After years of advocacy and negotiation, we are now eligible for Paid Family Leave (“PFL”) benefits.

In 2020, the maximum benefit was $840.70 weekly, which was 60% of the NYS Average Weekly Wage (AWW), for up to 10 weeks. The cost, taken via payroll deduction, was 0.270% of an employee’s gross wages each pay period. The maximum annual contribution was $196.72. Kindly note that both the benefits and the cost has now increased slightly. In 2021, PFL allows coverage for up to 12 weeks, up to 67% of the NYS AWW.

For further information on eligibility and qualifying events, please go to the DCAS website and see Personnel Service Bulletin (PSB) 440-16.

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NYC Budget and Threatened Layoffs

UPDATE 3/05/2021: We have reached an agreement, which is finally fully executed by the City, Local 237 and us (the Civil Service Bar Association) avoiding any layoffs for our members for at least the remainder of this fiscal year, and likely for next fiscal year as well, provided that the City receives the full amount of aid that is anticipated from the Federal government. In return, we had to agree to the City temporarily delaying payments to our welfare fund. Based upon our reserves, we should be able to continue providing all welfare fund benefits in the usual manner. If you want to see the details, download the No Layoff Agreement here.

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UPDATE 12/08/2020: We have been contacted by the Mayor’s Office of Labor Relations, which is seeking to defer paying a very significant amount towards our welfare fund as a way of helping the city bridge its revenue shortfall. Numbers are being crunched, and we have to see if what they are suggesting is feasible.

Needless to say, we are hopeful that there will be no CSBA member layoffs, and are now working in conjunction with City Employees Union Teamsters Local 237  in arriving at an agreement with the City. We must, at the same time, structure whatever agreement in a manner that allows our welfare fund to continue providing the range of benefits specified in our plan description.

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As you undoubtedly heard, Mayor de Blasio and the City Council reached a budget filled with pain and cutbacks for fiscal 2021, primarily due to the severe damage inflicted on the NYC economy by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly every agency and program is being forced to accept significant budget cuts.

The Mayor is specifically demanding $1 Billion in savings from “Labor”, i.e. city workers. He has stated that if the unions do not agree to a plan to reduce the city’s expenses in that tremendously high amount by October 1st [or alternatively, if the Federal government does not provide relief or the State does not increase NYC’s ability to borrow the money], twenty-two thousand (22,000) hardworking municipal workers will be terminated.

It is too early to predict what will happen, particularly its impact on our titles, Agency Attorneys, Agency Attorney Internes and Attorneys-at-Law. The Municipal Labor Committee (“the MLC”), which is comprised of approximately 100 NYC employee unions representing over 200,000 city workers (including us), is exploring that which is feasible with city officials to save jobs, money and services. Some form of retirement incentive, which would require State legislation, and assistance with financing city obligations and expenses, are reportedly being discussed. Redeployment/ transfer and presumably furloughs are among the other potential outcomes.

In the meantime, if you are curious as to the contractual protections, priorities and procedure related to layoffs, they can be found within Article XVII of the DC 37 Citywide Agreement (negotiated years ago but still in effect). It is readily available by searching the web with “DC 37 Citywide Agreement” or as a link to this site.

Prominently mentioned is the requirement that the city provide us, at least thirty days in advance, with a detailed list of the names, titles and agency of each at-risk bargaining unit member. Although such a list is reportedly being created, it is important to remember that being on the list merely indicates that you are “at risk”, not that you will in fact be laid off.

Few of these potential options are desirable, with the possible exception of an early retirement incentive package. Again, it is still too early to know how this will play out. We will let you know more when there is something tangible to share. Needless to say, we will do whatever we reasonably can to protect our members’ interests.

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CIVIL SERVICE BAR ASSOCIATION AFFIRMS THAT BLACK LIVES MATTER

As previously expressed on our Facebook page [CSBA Attorneys, 6/01/2020], this union of approximately one thousand NYC government Agency Attorneys, Attorney Interns and Attorneys-at-Law strongly supports the Black Lives Matter movement. The recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks by police officers have underscored the importance of police reform. Here in New York, we still remember how Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell and Eric Garner died at the hands of police officers simply because they were Black. Recently, we were appalled to see numerous instances of police brutality against peaceful protestors. Read more…

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CSBA MEMBER SURVEY re RETURNING TO WORK

As CSBA members potentially are required to return to work after the lifting of COVID 19 restrictions, there will be many challenges facing us. Among the immediate issues are: a) Telecommuting has been proven to work, should this be permanently allowed; b) How can our work environments be made as safe as possible; and c) How do we address the looming NYC budget deficit? Toward that end, we ask that you complete and submit this confidential online member survey as instructed on this link.

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