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Legislators Join Labor Leaders in Protesting Firing of Service Workers

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White Plains, NY — On Tuesday, Westchester County Board of Legislators Chairman Ben Boykin, Majority Leader Catherine Parker and Majority Whip MaryJane Shimsky joined members of SEIU Local 32BJ and other local labor leaders to protest the firing of seven custodial workers at the office towers on 234-235 Main Street in White Plains.  The workers lost their jobs when the building management hired a new cleaning contractor, Integrated Building Management.


The fired workers have sued the building’s developer, Caspi Development Company (CDC), as well as the management company, alleging violations of a 2013 county law which protects the rights of displaced service and janitorial building workers to keep their jobs for 60 days under new contractors. Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York City have passed similar laws.


In addition, the National Labor Relations Board is investigating charges alleging that the building management company refused to rehire the seven workers because of their union affiliation. If true that would violate federal laws guaranteeing the rights of workers to organize.


At a rally, located outside CDC headquarters in White Plains, one of the displaced workers described the hardships the sudden firings have caused his family; and labor representatives and elected officials recounted the numerous ways they tried, without success, to communicate with CDC to plead the workers’ case.  


After the rally, union representatives and Westchester legislators attempted to deliver a signed letter to CDC offices, but were briefly stopped by White Plains police.  In the end, Majority Leader Parker and a union representative were escorted by police to deliver the letter, but CDC employees refused to accept it.


One of those letter was signed by White Plains Mayor Tom Roach, State Assemblyman David Buchwald and a bipartisan group of county legislators -- including Boykin, Parker and Shimsky as well as Vice Chair Alfreda Williams, Legislators Kitley Covill, Michael Kaplowitz, Nancy Barr, Catherine Borgia, Damon Maher, Lyndon Williams, Christopher Johnson, Virginia Perez, David Tubiolo and Legislator-Elect Terry Clements.


Chairman Boykin (D-White Plains, Scarsdale, Harrison) said, "The County's Displaced Service Employees Protection Law was designed to protect workers in precisely this set of ircumstances.  We urge the building manager to meet with these displaced workers and their representatives and to make sure they are in compliance with the law.  It’s our hope that the company will rehire these workers, or we urge the developer to bring in a company who will."


Majority Leader Parker (D-Harrison, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, Rye) said, “To refuse a letter that politely points out a Westchester law may have been broken and that the developer can be a hero by communicating to the maintenance company that the seven employees should be rehired, shows a blatant disregard of common decency.”


Majority Whip Shimsky (D-Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Edgemont, Hartsdale,   Hastings-on-Hudson, Irvington) said, “I am very disturbed by the firing of these workers and of CDC’s subsequent behavior,” said County Legislator MaryJane Shimsky. “There may be a violation of the displaced workers law, and there are serious allegations of unfair labor practices. CDC and Caspi have refused to discuss the matter with anyone who has reached out to them. Then Caspi kicked off of its property two peaceable representatives seeking to do no more than hand letters to one of their employees. The companies’ lack of civility and unwillingness to discuss the potential legal issues are stunning, and fortunately not representative of most businesses in Westchester County.” 

 

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