School-Related Professionals who rise to the challenge every day will now find themselves on a better footing in their workplaces, thanks to a new law.
Signed by Governor Hochul on November 21, New York State SRP Recognition Day, the legislative package will strengthen the rights of SRPs and other public sector workers. One of the changes will amend Section 80 of the civil service law, closing certain loopholes to ensure that union members enjoy the same rights as everyone else. SRPs have been lobbying for this change since the 1990s.
“This bill couldn’t have happened on a better day, School-Related Professionals Day,” said Kim McEvoy, SRP At-Large Director on the NYSUT Board and member of the Rondout Valley Federation of Teachers and School Related Professionals. “This bill will provide protections for NYSUT members and members of other unions, and secure better working conditions for more than 100,000 SRPs, as well as other civil servants.”
The amendment to Section 80, S.5487/A.6586, allows for more protections for SRPs during layoffs and job recalls. Previously, during a reduction in forces, “bump and retreat” provisions were only applicable to some public service employees. Additionally, there was no uniform procedure in place regarding rehiring methods based on length of service - or “Last in, First out.” Instead, employees displaced due to layoffs could be replaced by someone younger or less experienced, ultimately creating a financial incentive to harm long-time employees who might be more expensive.
The amendment means that all competitive and non-competitive employees are entitled to the same layoff and job recall protections, ensuring fairer treatment of SRPs.
Employee protections and uniform procedures also help establish a stronger workforce, SRPs say. “The passing of Section 80 creates the opportunity for LRS's and labor leaders to strengthen their working relationships to negotiate and establish solid job assurances in their collective bargaining agreements,” said Kristin Good, co-president of the West Genesee Paraprofessionals Association and teaching assistant at West Genesee Senior High School. “These strengthened relationships can also increase member engagement/enrollment, which can result in all-around better employee-employer relations.”
“This is a huge win for SRPs who often found themselves laid off and then later replaced by someone with less experience as a way to save money. I am proud to be a member of a union that has fought for so long to ensure that SRPs are afforded the rights they deserve,” said Mary Anne Hall, member of the United Liverpool Faculty Association – Teachers Assistants of Liverpool and teaching assistant at Morgan Road Middle School.
“With the many changes in labor trends, statewide and nationally, there is an ever-present need to put protections in place for existing staff whenever possible. This amendment will encourage labor leaders and their LRSs to negotiate assurances of job protections in their collective bargaining agreements,” said Susan Gifford, a member of Retiree Council 07.
A retired teaching assistant, Gifford tracked these advocacy efforts for years and was gratified to see the bill finally pass. “Protecting dependable, responsible, and long serving employees by having laws and contract language that guarantees regular member engagement, is a foundation of sound employee relations.”
Other bills in the package include:
- S.6477/A.7157 clarifies that a union is entitled to the home address of an employee in its bargaining unit so the union can contact the employee outside of work, making withholding this information an improper practice.
- S.6491/A.6866 closes a loophole for arbitrations between public employers and employees to ensure that awards resulting from arbitration are awarded within a year of the decision.
“I am so thankful to be part of a union that understands the importance of the work we do every day and is always working on behalf of its members,” said McEvoy.