February 26, 2015
By Neal Tepel
Among the nation's largest social service agencies 2,200 employees and over 135,000 clients affected.
Federation Employment and Guidance Services (FEGS) has announced that it is shutting down in a matter of weeks and months. Over 135,000 elderly, developmentally disabled, unemployed and other New Yorkers are annually served by its programs, both residential and center-based, which are being broken-up and transferred to a wide variety of other social service agencies.
Over 1,400 unionized workers and another 800 nonunionized employees working in 300 locations in New York City, Long Island and Westchester, are at risk of losing their jobs when programs transfer unless the State and City act now to pass emergency legislation mandating that the new agencies taking these programs also continue to employ the dedicated staff caring for New York’s most vulnerable. The quality and continuity of patient care should not be jeopardized. FEGS has always had a reputation of providing superior care because of its employees, many of whom have given fifteen to twenty-five years of dedicated service to its clients.
FEGS has told Social Service Employees Local 215, District Council 1707 AFSCME that they cannot guarantee that any of the union members will be offered work by the new agencies or that FEGS will have the money to pay its union workers the notice pay, severance pay and accumulated vacation pay called for under the collective bargaining agreement. We estimate that in addition to losing their jobs, 1,400 direct care givers may loose over $5,000,000 in pay. For an agency that has an 80-year history of being proud of all they do to help working class people find work, this is unbelievable. At the same time, many executives made over $100,000 a year while they ran FEGS into the ground.
Local 215, District Council 1707 & NYS AFSCME demands that FEGS pay every worker what they are supposed to get under the collective bargaining agreement. The Union is also demanding that every union worker be allowed to follow the work. We want every union member employed by the new agency without any loss of pay.
This is a political fight as much as it is an economic fight. There has been no economic impact study done on how such a massive closing will affect our communities and how this will impact clients and their families. OPDWW and OMH must understand the impact their decisions have on our communities.
Every FEGS employee should be allowed to follow the work. And all should be employed by a new agency without any loss of pay. Not only is it fair to the workers but also to New York’s most vulnerable. The quality and continuity of patient care should not be jeopardized.
Contact OPWDD & OMH Today to Promote Quality & Continuity of Care and Stability of Employment.