Important News from the Kent/Garcia Administration about an attack to PEF members’ job security and the public services they provide at the Office of Children and Family Services
A restructuring of the juvenile justice system in New York State known as The Close to Home initiative, passed with last year’s State budget before we took office, resulting in moving juvenile offenders from State custody to New York City custody has begun. At the end of last week, we were notified by the State that they are closing seven OCFS facilities downstate and downsizing five Multi-Services Offices. Since taking Office in August, we have continually advocated for the State to ensure that changes of this magnitude to public services that PEF members provide include appropriate workforce planning to ensure continuity of employment and we will continue to do so. Although the State has the authority to proceed with the decision to shift responsibility to New York City for this population, we know that these private vendors have a history of inappropriately training their staff and paying low wages that result in high worker turnover. The result is a security risk to the community and these youth, in addition to negatively impacting their chances for successful re-entry into the community. One of the differences that this Administration has brought to PEF is to make a commitment that when the State decides to diminish the quality services PEF members provide to the public, we will continue to monitor the consequences of the State’s actions and report out to the public.
PEF staff is accompanying affected members to meetings this week to complete “blue cards” to begin the Agency Reduction Transfer List (ARTL) process. These meetings will also include DOL, Civil Service and Career Mobility Office representatives. March 27 is the planned layoff date for any member who is not reassigned/transferred and the latest information from management is that they are pursuing internal reassignment/transfer of affected staff within OCFS where possible and will also utilize the ARTL process to mitigate the impact of the planned RIF. So far, OCFS management has stated that of the 77 affected employees -- 28 have already been reassigned/transferred, 2 have resigned and 1 has retired. Based on this information, 46 employees are still facing possible lay off. We will concentrate our efforts on ensuring that the State does everything that can be done to place these employees in job openings within OCFS or other State Agencies, and getting an extension past the 60 day statutory requirement to ensure that these highly trained and educated public workers continue to contribute their value added services to the citizens of New York State.
Additional details that are currently known are that affected employees who have not been reassigned or transferred will get official choice/layoff notice letters the last week of January which will include notice of their displacement rights/choices, if any, and/or notice of their actual layoff effective March 27. There will be teleconference meetings the first week of February during which employees will have to indicate whether they are accepting any available displacement opportunity available to them in the layoff process.
According to management, the work locations that will be closed or downsized in NYC include:
· Ella McQueen Residential (Brooklyn)
· Southern NY Residential (Bronx)
· Staten Island Residential
· Staten Island Community Residence
· Bronx Evening Reporting Center
· Brooklyn Evening Reporting Center
· City Challenge Day Placement (Brooklyn)
· Community Multi Services Offices (CMSO) in each borough
Employees at the Brentwood Residential Center out on Long Island are also getting notice that they may be impacted by displacement of other employees because Brentwood is in the same layoff unit at the NYC work locations.