NEW YORK (Apr. 24)
Sanford Solender, executive vice-president of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, said Friday he was “optimistic” over prospects of an early resumption of negotiations between District Council 1707 and 20 Ys and Jewish community centers which locked out 450 unionized employees Thursday in a contract dispute.
The lockout closed the Ys and centers, ending services to some 50,000 children and older users, according to the Community and Social Agency Employees, AFL-CIO local, which said the locked out employees included social workers, group leaders, counselors, nursery school teachers, clerical and maintenance staff.
The Union local said that on April 1, management gave the union the contractual 14-day notice of cancellation of contract, effective April 15. Through the efforts of Sol Kreitman of the New York State mediation service, the contract was extended to midnight April 20. Kreitman began mediation on March 23. The two-year contract expired last Jan. 31. The union local said negotiations started last December but that management had never made on offer.
Both sides agreed two basic questions were involved. One was the local’s demand for a wage increase and the other was the union’s insistence that 65 workers on the Ys and centers’ programs for senior citizens, who are funded by Title XX of the Social Security Act, be included in any new contract.
A union spokesman said that the union asked “very reasonable” demands and was ready to discuss a cost-of-living adjustment to meet the “erosion” in earnings caused by inflation but for all its members, including the 65 receiving outside funding.
FORMAL STATEMENT BY SOLENDER
The Federation, in a formal statement by Solender, said that each of the affected agencies was an independent and autonomous agency, “as are all of Federation’s 130 agencies,” and that each agency was responsible “for arriving at its own contractual commitment.” Declaring that the Federation was “deeply concerned” for both the welfare of the employees and for those the agencies served, Solender said “the uninterrupted delivery of vital social services to the community is of primary concern.”
He said that “especially at this time of drastic fiscal crisis and the consequent increasing demand for social services from the voluntary sector, federation is confident that this dispute will be resolved in a fair and amicable manner.”
Solender insisted that the critical dispute was over Local 1707 representing the 65 separately-funded workers and that while the Federation was not involved in the negotiations in the Y dispute, he was certain that agreement could be achieved on wage and other demands for the employees not funded under Title XX.
He told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that both the Y managements and the union local had approached city officials to determine whether any additional funds could be provided to increase the pay of the 65 employees.
REASON FOR LOCKOUT EXPLAINED
Solender was asked why the managements had locked out the employes when Local 1707 had indicated its willingness to continue the negotiations. He replied that the Ys and community centers were planning for summer camping programs, which involved commitments on staff, food and transportation. He said the agencies had to be assured they could make such commitments without fear of “disruption” by the union and that there would have to be a new contract early enough to provide such assurance. He said that April 15 had been set as the basic date many months ago.
Solender was then asked whether these plans could still not be frustrated if the workers stayed out indefinitely. At that point, he said he was “optimistic” of an early resumption of talks. He declined to be more specific.