“Slap In The Face During The Pandemic” - CSEA-Represented City Workers On Long Island Fight Layoffs
CSEA Editor’s Note: Pictured above, Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) Union Members James Hodge and Greg Webster are ready for the drive thru-rally. (Photos provided by CSEA City of Long Beach Unit President John Mooney.)
(LONG BEACH, LONG ISLAND) - The COVID-19 Pandemic has led to financial difficulties for many communities across the state, including the City of Long Beach, where essential services are at stake. Recently, 22 Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) City of Long Beach Unit Members were laid off for budgetary reasons, but CSEA is fighting back. Never the kind to take poor treatment lying down, CSEA Long Island Unit Members are rolling out a methodic plan to seek justice.
“The budget cuts that happened ‘were placed almost solely on the backs of CSEA (Members),’” said CSEA City of Long Beach Unit President John Mooney. “Rather than gather outside of City Hall, we decided to hold a drive-thru rally ‘in order to be safe during the pandemic.’”
And what a rally it was.
About 130 cars lined up in front of the CSEA City of Long Beach Unit Office to launch the socially distant rally, held right before the City Council’s vote on the budget.
Participating CSEA Members drove past the homes of Long Beach City Council Members while the blaring sound of CSEA Members’ car horns echoed through the streets.
The City Council was also practicing social distancing by holding a virtual board meeting.
CSEA Unit Members used an electronic truck, drones and megaphones to capture the attention of the City Council and community members.
“We’re ‘not going to let COVID stop us from fighting,’” Mooney said. “We did a ‘Facebook Live’ (broadcast) of the rally that had over (4,000) views and (100) shares. ‘We definitely sent a message to the city council that we’re here and we’re fighting through the pandemic.’”
CSEA Unit Members felt they needed to address the City Council directly because the Council voted in favor of layoffs.
The Council also decides whether the layoffs will be targeted or evenly distributed across the board.
However, Union Officials say this Council decided to place the weight of layoffs squarely on the backs of CSEA members.
In addition to the drive-thru rally, CSEA City of Long Beach Unit Members sent e-mails to City Council Members, sent letters to Governor Andrew Cuomo, the County Executive - and even to Republican President Donald Trump to urge for aid to save these vital services.
Lastly, the CSEA Unit filed a Class Action Grievance on behalf of the Union’s laid off Members.
The impact of losing 22 of his Union Brothers and Sisters to budget cuts has had a deep emotional impact on Mooney: “The last three months ‘have felt like three years.’ ‘It angers me and it frustrates me that the city would do this to our members during a pandemic.’ ‘It breaks our hearts that amongst the twenty-two Members who were laid off were two women on maternity leave, two people out on injuries, a Member who was out due to COVID and a Veteran.; ‘That is the ultimate slap in the face during this pandemic.’”
CSEA City of Long Beach Unit Members have a history of going out of their way to work with the city during difficult financial times.
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