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No contract, no show

Local 830 president Ron Gurrieri says he did

Local 830 president Ron Gurrieri says he did not organize the DSS sick-out or know anything about it, and isn't ready to concede it was an organized event. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Daily Point

Nassau DSS workers 'sick' of going without a contract?

Nassau County is facing off against the CSEA over accusations that employees held a "sickout" last week to protest working without a contract since 2018, and the county promptly went to court to get a temporary restraining order to force employees back to work.

A complaint filed in state Supreme Court by Kyle Rose-Louder, Nassau’s deputy county executive for health and human services, said employees in two units of the Department of Social Services, were absent in numbers far higher than the norm on Monday, Oct. 25:

  • The county alleged that the Temporary Assistance Unit’s 100-worker staff would normally experience about five absences per day but had more than 60 last Monday.
  • Of those, about 14 had secured permission to miss work on Oct. 25 by requesting the time off between Oct. 19 and Oct. 22, while the other absent workers, about 48 of them, were "absent without leave (AWOL) or did not otherwise comply with standard operating procedure for not coming in to work."
  • In addition, nine of the 20 supervisors in the Medicaid Unit, who are also CSEA members, either called out sick on Oct. 25 or did not report for work.
  • A Local 830 member posted on Facebook "All call out sick and see how communication works then!" on or around Oct. 21.

The complaint also alleges the slowdown happened as an extension and result of the "contract campaign" the CSEA has been conducting as County Executive Laura Curran’s reelection run nears. The union, led by Local 830 president Ron Gurrieri, recently unleashed a push on social media and elsewhere to bash Curran’s plan to send most county residents $375 checks. The checks cost $100 million and the union objects to them while it is without a contract and is fighting for COVID-19 compensation time and other monetary concessions. Before the sickout, DSS workers held a special meeting on Oct. 21 to discuss the contract situation.

Judge Helen Voutsinas had issued the order Tuesday saying it was likely the county could win a case that the sickout was unlawful. County officials say attendance does seem back to normal Monday.

Gurrieri says he did not organize the move or know anything about it, and isn’t ready to concede it was an organized event. He pointed out that people take off all the time because they are sick and signs throughout county buildings tell them to do so if they are sick.

Gurrieri added that while he has been running a contract campaign for three weeks, he has also been at the table with the county regularly and wants to keep that productive. He said he has skipped opportunities to fight with Curran, including endorsing no one in Tuesday’s county executive race and not taking sound trucks and protesters to her events.

"Curran is at events lately, and all I hear from her is how the CSEA workers saved us during COVID by always stepping up and never shirking," Gurrieri said. "I just want to know why we have all these problems getting a contract if we’re so great."

— Lane Filler @lanefiller

Talking Point

Crime and misstatement

It was not exactly a surprise that the race for Nassau County district attorney would include such a focus on bail reform, given Democratic hopeful State Sen. Todd Kaminsky’s much-debated role in the legislative overhaul process in Albany.

But bail has been a big issue down the stretch in Suffolk, too, with both DA candidates running thousands of dollars worth of ads on the subject.

That includes incumbent DA Tim Sini’s Facebook ads quoting editorial boards praising him for his criticisms of bail reform, and other ads blasting out the line "TIM SINI OPPOSES bail reform in Suffolk County."

Ray Tierney, Sini’s opponent on the GOP line, has also been running multiple ads about what he calls the "radical bail reform legislation" which he says he’d fight to repeal, claiming it "put criminals, and many dangerous recidivists, ahead of the safety of the law abiding public."

Both candidates have squabbled about the other's level of dedication to bail reform, which went into effect in 2020, eliminating cash bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent crimes as part of a wider criminal justice overhaul that also substantially changed pretrial procedures.

Tierney has been selectively quoting a 2019 Newsday joint op-ed from Sini and then-Nassau DA Madeline Singas that includes the lines, "We need to overhaul New York’s bail system because no one should be in jail awaiting trial simply because they’re poor. We support the transition to cashless bail."

On Facebook, Tierney cuts that as, "We need to overhaul New York’s bail system … We support the transition to cashless bail."

A Republican mailer goes further: "We need to overhaul New York’s bail system because no one should be in jail … ," which cuts off the "awaiting trial simply because they’re poor" part of the sentence.

The op-ed in general is hardly a blanket endorsement of cashless bail, raising the alarm about "unintended consequences" and arguing that "reform legislation must include mechanisms that ensure dangerous defendants who pose a clear safety threat to victims or the public can be detained."

Responding to a question about the clipped excerpts from the op-ed, Sini said in a statement that "[a]s the record makes clear, I always opposed New York’s bail reform, and have been credited as one of the first to do so. As Suffolk’s DA and the next President of the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York, I will continue to oppose this law and fight for a new law that protects our communities."

For his part, Sini’s campaign has run ads alleging that no, it’s Tierney who’s too soft on bail reform: "While Tierney was the Head of Crime Strategy for the Brooklyn DA, his office helped weaken bail laws, and let criminals out of jail."

Tierney disputed this characterization, saying that the crime strategy unit he was in charge of was a "data analytics bureau" and didn’t set policy.

In a phone call with The Point, Tierney said that bail has "been an issue all along" during the campaign. He suggested that Sini "sees the same polls I see, and the public is furious with bail reform."

— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

Peace prospect

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Quick Points

The waiting game

  • Gov. Kathy Hochul took a test ride on the Long Island Rail Road’s East Side Access line to Grand Central Terminal, 13 months before its scheduled debut in December 2022. Which might be the first and only time a train arrives there early.
  • Polls close at 9 p.m. on Tuesday but election officials can’t even start counting absentee ballots for seven days. Which means in close races, it’s once again a case of hurry up and wait.
  • First, Democrats wanted to give President Joe Biden a gift by passing his two big spending bills before he arrived in Scotland Monday for the big climate change conference. Then they wanted to give him a gift by passing the measures before he left the conference Tuesday. Now the gift is going to come later. Call it congressional supply chain issues.
  • President Joe Biden and the other G-20 leaders endorsed an agreement to set a new 15% global minimum tax on large corporations — proving that the rest of the world is easier to negotiate with than Congress.
  • Sen. Joe Manchin’s opposition to paid family leave includes his fear of program fraud and the West Virginia Democrat has asked questions about work requirements. Senator, you do know that you have to have a job in order to take a leave from it, right?
  • Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah), chairman of the Conservative Climate Caucus, said on the event of his departure for the climate change conference in Scotland, that "Republicans do care" about climate change. He didn’t say how many or how much.
  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said he and his husband, Chasten, dressed their newborn twins as traffic cones for Halloween, with Buttigieg quipping, "They’re infrastructure, basically." And we thought they were roadwork delays.

— Michael Dobie @mwdobie

Puzzle Point

In the news — the answers

Friday’s news quiz, based on events that took place last week, asked you to solve a series of clues whose first letters taken in order would spell the name of the politician who said this about negotiations on President Joe Biden’s domestic policy package: "So it seems to me almost every sensible progressive revenue option that the president wants and the American people want, and that I want, seems to be sabotaged."

The answer was BERNIE SANDERS.

Click here for the answers to the clued words that provided those letters.

— Michael Dobie @mwdobie

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