CSA President Mark Cannizzaro’s Remarks At The CSA Rally For A Fair Contract
Look at this crowd! Welcome, Brothers and Sisters!
Before I begin, let’s hear it for our NYPD Brothers and Sisters who are out here keeping us safe today and every day. Remember, the men and women in blue are union too!
And for our other union brothers and sisters who are here today. We have representatives from so many unions here supporting us. And so many elected officials supporting us today and every day for the benefit or our students.
And, let’s hear it for our brothers and sisters from TWU who are rallying right down the street for a fair contract as well. We all wish President Tony Utano and his members success at the bargaining table.
Thank you all for coming out! I know first-hand the job you do and how hard you work every day. So I know it took tremendous effort for you to make time to be here today. And you are here because you know it’s important.
Since negotiating our 2014 contract, I have seen the benefit of a united front and a united union. In 2014 we stuck together in unity and we prevailed. As I look out right now, at least half of you benefitted from the solidarity of your union brothers and sisters. I told many of you then, those who were in jeopardy of forfeiting your retroactive pay, that I would be calling on you soon to stand strong for others. That’s because that is what a union does. We look out for each other, especially when someone is trying to take advantage of our brothers and sisters.
Like, last year when this City was telling families of our members who died while in active service, that since their loved ones had “left” the system before retirement, that they were not entitled to the retroactive money that was rightfully earned. Our legal team went to work and secured justice for these families. And, how we stood together to defeat the Constitutional Convention which threatened our pensions and benefits. And, how after the Janus Case, membership in this union has actually increased!
But as Frederick Douglas once said, “Power concedes nothing without demand.”
So here we are again, demanding respect for the heroic work you all do. And again, I am energized by this show of strength! United we stand, shoulder to shoulder, active members, retirees and supporters!
But I am growing tired of hearing our members telling me that changes to the Discipline Code and a lack of resources have made their schools unsafe. Our survey showed that about 70% of you believe that you are not given sufficient resources to provide a safe and effective learning environment. And that only 28% of members are satisfied with the overall direction of the DOE.
And that paperwork, an insane workload, and constantly being pulled out of your buildings or being visited by others demanding your time, keeps you from educating students.
And, I don’t know whether to be angry or just chuckle when the response to our raising of legitimate concerns to hastily constructed protocols, is the suggestion that perhaps, our agenda is something other than a Children’s agenda. CSA members don’t need to defend their agenda. The students and parents we serve know exactly where our priorities lie.
And I am tired of hearing that principals cannot hire an assistant principal due to micromanagement from above. But don’t blame superintendents, most of them are as frustrated too.
And I lose sleep when I hear stories like Serena Forzaglia’s who is here with us today. While she does her best to take care of all students, she is struggling with the cost and missed work days due to undergoing fertility treatments. As this has left her with few CAR days for maternity leave, she too often has to go to work sick. And, while she has received support from our welfare fund and her outstanding principal, Robert Marino, our city has turned its back on her.
You see, they are trying to overcharge us for Paid Parental Leave. They say that “productivity” is lost when our members go on parental leave, and therefore, we should pay significantly more for this benefit than our brothers and sisters in other unions. We don’t mind paying for a benefit, but it’s disgraceful for the city to try and profit from our members who wish to raise a family! And, to their productivity argument? Can someone tell me what we are excused from getting done when a member is out on leave? Productivity is not lost: When you are short staffed, you work beyond what are already unhealthy hours, you endure unhealthy amounts of stress, and you sacrifice your families and personal relationships.
Sadly, that commitment is not honored by our City. Sure, the platitudes we hear are nice and definitely appreciated. But while you are busy doing everything our DOE and City Leaders have asked of you, despite the roadblocks they constantly put up, we are at the bargaining table hearing that all of your extra time and effort is worth nothing because you do it any way. That makes me furious.
So, brothers and sisters, please know that we will not give up and we will not give in! Your support fuels me and when we arrive at an acceptable deal, it will be because of all of you! God bless and thank you for the work that you do!