Committee on Civil Service and Labor
Alice Wong, NYC MEA Executive Director
January 27, 2021
“The State of Labor During COVID-19”
Good afternoon. I’m Alice Wong, the Executive Director of NYC Managerial Employees Association.
Thank you, Chair Miller, for the opportunity to speak on behalf of the 16,000 NYC managerial employees and MEA members. These city employees are largely composed of women and minority groups, representing the diversity of NYC.
During the height of COVID-19, managerial employees worked in areas outside of their job description, without overtime pay, or permission to work from home.
ACS managerial employees reported to all field offices to provide essential services that ensured the safety of children and families. Their work proceeded, regardless of the fact that PPE was not available between March and May. MEA advocated to make sure the voices of our members and frontline workers were heard. When PPE equipment became available, instructions and usage protocol was provided. ACS leadership was responsive and proactive with communication, announcements, and updates regarding COVID-19. This was an example of leadership and concern for ACS staff members.
H+H employees were not as fortunate. Employees at the manager level work outside their job description and scope of duties, do not have the option to work from home, nor to decline assigned tasks. These non-clinical managers were told to write up employees who wanted to wear face masks and were often mocked. Managers were recruited to provide support services and troubleshoot for the hospital in clinical areas outside their areas of managerial responsibility, such as facilities and engineering. Employees who tested positive were told to report to work instead of staying home to quarantine. Derik Braswell, a materials management manager at Elmhurst Hospital and MEA member, contracted the virus while working on a COVID ward and passed away on April 20, 2020.
H+H Employees requested for infection control inspections that still have not been made. Non-clinical managers are expected to bridge the staffing gap, yet they are not treated as essential workers who would qualify for the vaccine in the first round or for HEROES pay. As MEA continues to advocate for H+H managers, we ask for open communication, clear safety guidelines, and consistent updates to COVID-19.
Chair Miller asked MEA to conduct a survey with a focus on the City’s communication, training protocols, and safety procedures. MEA will provide the results of the survey to the committee for review in the coming weeks.
MEA is committed to providing advocacy for all city managers and we thank Chair Miller for the opportunity to testify on the impact of COVID-19 on behalf of the 16,000 NYC manager employees.