NEW YORK, May 22, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Wednesday, May 22 District Council 37, New York City's largest public employee union; NYC Clerical- Administrative Employees Local 1549, which represents 911 call center staff; and City Council Member Peter F. Vallone, Jr., who chairs the NYC Council Public Safety Committee, spoke out on the steps of City Hall about inadequate staffing levels at New York City's busy 911 emergency call center. In the interest of public safety, DC 37 and Local 1549, supported by Council Member Vallone, called on the city to immediately hire 400 new 911 operators and dispatchers, implement alternative work schedules for existing 911 staff, and improve workplace safety.
DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts said: "DC 37 calls on the city to act now and remedy the situation at the 911 call center by hiring adequate staff, providing alternative work schedules for existing staff and addressing health and safety concerns. Our members at 911 are on the front line during our city's crises — from Sept. 11, 2001 to Hurricane Sandy — answering emergency calls for help. Now they are calling for help to do their vital jobs better, and the city should listen and respond."
DC 37 and Local 1549 President Eddie Rodriguez said: "The men and women who work at 911 are true everyday heroes. Local 1549 will not tolerate our members being taken for granted or mistreated. The Local will not rest until members are treated fairly and full civilianization of the police department has been realized"
Local 1549 Executive Vice President Alma Roper said: "911 personnel perform a vital service to the Police Department and the City of New York handling 13 million emergency calls a year. They are the first of the first responders. Local 1549 is simply asking that they be treated with respect."
NYC Council Member Peter F. Vallone, Jr. said: "This is getting to the point where our 911 operators are going to have to call 911. The City is potentially putting New Yorkers' lives at risk by not having enough operators."
Also speaking at the event were Janice Darden, chair of the Police Administrative Clerical Chapter of Local 1549; John Armstrong, chair of the Police Communications Technician/Supervising PCT Chapter of Local 1549; and Joel Shufro, executive director of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health (NYCOSH).
In recent years, call volumes in the New York Police Department's Communications Section have increased dramatically while staffing levels have steadily declined, leading to increased fatigue, stress, and sick leave usage among 911 operators and dispatchers. Between 2009 and 2012, the number of 911 calls increased by 20%. Yet over the same period, Communications Section staffing declined 11%, from 1,300 to just 1,160. This has led management to assign excessive overtime – causing stress, exhaustion and poor health among the staff, and stretching 911 emergency response capabilities to the limit. In addition, costs to taxpayers from increased overtime in the Communications Section have increased by 88%, from approximately $2 million in 2008 to over $4 million in 2012. Hiring, alternative work schedules and workplace safety improvements are needed to alleviate this situation.
District Council 37 is New York City's largest public employee union, with 121,000 members and 50,000 retirees.
NYC Clerical-Administrative Employees Local 1549 represents 18,000 NYC clerical-administrative employees.
Zita Allen, Communications Director
Molly Charboneau, Rudy Orozco
SOURCE District Council 37