A Message from President Pete Piciulo
These past months have been crazy, to say the least. The one thing that has us most concerned is not the Coronavirus but the Office of Court Administration (OCA). While NYS went into lock-down mode and the courts with it on March 17th, 2020, OCA had to figure out how to operate without the massive crowds. Usher in the virtual era of the NYS Courts. Now, this was a huge undertaking and one that has fallen on the majority of the IT people and our court clerks as well as others. Justice cannot stop, nor should it, but it was because of our members that the cases would be heard.
What are the thanks our members receive from the Chief Judge? Well, besides those videos pretending all is well with the Excellence Initiative, they commissioned a scathing report by Jeh Johnson dumping on every court employee about how unprofessional we are and how we need to correct our public image. This report titled, Report From The Special Advisor On Equal Justice In The NYS Courts, came out on October 1, 2020. The curious thing though as we read it, it talks about the “interviewees” that helped them form this bias opinion. Well, we were not asked for comment and I have yet to talk to any of our members who said they were interviewed. We deserve to know who the interviewees were. In court hearsay is inadmissible!
Now you may find it hard to believe that this report was constructed and not one union was asked for input, but since COVID-19, OCA has been harder to talk to or get a meeting with than finding out what happened to Jimmy Hoffa! Emails from them are being sent after-hours and on weekends instead of during business hours, they do not respond to our grievances, demands for improper practices and the such. A total disregard for the UNION! In fact, they have been sending their policy changes directly to the membership before the union even gets notification!
I want you to know that we will not just sit idly by while these false accusations towards our court employees go unchallenged. The knee-jerk reactions resulting in changes to our uniforms were not well thought out. The unilateral changes in how discipline is administered were not negotiated with our Union. We will address each and every issue that affects our membership in the appropriate forum.
We think it’s likely that a social media policy will be the next memo to hit without our notification so I would like to warn all our members to please, please refrain from posting anything that may be deemed inappropriate when it comes to gender, race, etc. Freedom of speech is not free when your employer deems it in a manner that has negative implications. Exactly how does the New York State Court System plan on defining that? It will not be your friend that files the complaint, but someone who copies the post and forwards it to the bosses. So please post food, pets, family but do not set yourself up as their example.
In closing, I want to wish everyone a safe four-day weekend and know that we are working tirelessly to defend you!
Peter A. Piciulo