BENTE Union Update (10-5-21) -- Raises, COVID-19 Information, Staffing Shortage, Union Updates

BENTE Union Update (10-5-21) -- Raises, COVID-19 Information, Staffing Shortage, Union Updates
October 6, 2021

Secretary-Treasurer Barbara Zarpentine and I had an in-person meeting recently at the District’s Central Office with Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small. The conversation was productive, and has resulted in an update on the following items: 

RAISES: The raises that were negotiated and ratified in early August will be contained in your next paycheck dated Friday, October 8, 2021. Please keep in mind that the raise will be provided for the pay period of September 12 to September 25. Those who are receiving bracket increases will also see the increase in their next paycheck on October 8. This includes the Lead Sentries (SSO’s). 

Retroactive pay will be calculated by the Payroll Department and will be included in a subsequent paycheck. The District owes you retroactive pay for any hours you worked between July 1, 2021 and September 11, 2021 as part of the terms of the negotiated contract. We do not yet have a date as to when the retroactive pay will be issued. I will notify everyone once we have a confirmed date. 

PAYCHECKS: Some BENTE members – the majority of them food service workers – did not get a paycheck last pay period due to a variety of different systematic issues. We advocated along with their supervisors to get them an out-of-cycle check. Payroll has processed those checks and they were paid last Friday. 

All of you have been working under the old pay rates. Those should be corrected on October 8. Please contact us if you think the hourly rate in your paycheck is still in error. 

TRANSPORTATION: Superintendent Myers-Small conveyed to us that she is grateful for the hard-working men and women at the RCSD Transportation Department, and she apologized for filming the video at First Student.  

The Union is still pushing for recruitment, retention, and attendance incentives for this school year in order to fill the 25 plus RCSD Bus Driver vacancies, and to retain current staff. The Union has made it clear that the incentives need to apply to anyone with a CDL in the department who is willing to drive a school bus.  

The Superintendent has expressed her support for these incentives, and we are awaiting a new proposal from the District. We are also working on developing a process for paid CDL training as a way to recruit new staff.  

One member pointed out to me that in addition to the new Transportation facility in Brockport, Fairport has also built a new transportation hub: Fairport CSD Celebrates Opening of New Transportation Facility 

It would be great if we could get our Chief Financial Officer to think about expanding the department by building a new facility that would not only increase pride in the Transportation department and the RCSD, but also beautify the neighborhood. Instead, CFO Pierce is busy obstructing custodians from buying toilet paper, and tasking clerical staff with coming up with the justification for a postage stamp.

COVID TESTING: A big thanks to all of you who went out of your way to help your fellow co-worker(s) either submit proof of vaccination or sign up for testing. 

Although the list has dwindled, more than one hundred BENTE members have received a warning letter from the District to provide proof of vaccination or proof that they are testing. There is a backlog at Walgreens involving processing tests for those members who did not pre-register online. We are encouraging everyone to sign up for testing through Walgreens to avoid this issue, but please note that the District will be calling the employees who remain on the list prior to taking any action. 

After that, a meeting with any member who is still listed as not submitting proof of vaccination or as signed up for weekly testing will take place with a union representative present prior to the District taking any action.  

ARBITRATIONS: Two separate arbitrators ruled in favor of the District on two cases that were presented by the Union. One of the grievances involved hazard pay, and the other involved the District reducing the hours of food service employees during the shutdown.  

We still believe that even though the language in the Collective Bargaining Agreement placed our case on shaky legal ground, the people who run this District should have a moral obligation to front line workers. 

As stated in my previous e-mail, Monroe County and Erie County paid workers who came in during the pandemic despite not having any contractual language to support it. I have made this argument time and time again, but no one is interested in doing right by our members who put their lives on the line. There is funding from the federal and state government that could be used to pay for this. 

Informing the Union that you are upset that the District is not considering paying people who came in during the pandemic is preaching to the choir. Please e-mail the CFO and copy in the Superintendent and the Board of Education to express your opinion. The CFO’s e-mail is: Copy in:;;;;-;;;;

UNION OFFICER UPDATE: BENTE Vice President Larry Profetta and Sergeant-at-Arms Wilbert Navedo have both retired from the RCSD and we congratulate them on their careers. They both did an exceptional job representing members during their tenure as union officers.  

Chief Steward Ange Palmerini has been promoted to the position of Vice President and Trustee Zelder Bice has been promoted to the position of Sergeant-at-Arms. Jessica Rinebold is the new Chief Steward. Noelia Garcia has been appointed to the position of Trustee. 

Please read the article in the Democrat & Chronicle featuring former Sergeant-at-Arms Wilbert Navedo regarding his job as a Bus Driver: Bus Driver Shortage 

STAFFING SHORTAGE: There are multiple issues with staffing positions throughout the District, and this has led to incredibly stressful situations for our members who are doing the work of two or three people. It can’t be sustained, and as difficult as it is to get people to come and work for this District, we are participating in recruitment efforts because as long as the positions remain vacant, the workload will continue to overwhelm people to the point of resigning, and therefore compound the problem. 

You are all incredible! I know that many of you are staying late to watch after kids who are waiting for transportation. You are feeding them their only meals of the day, wiping their runny nose or providing them a snack out of your own pocket. Cleaning up behind them, maintaining the buildings, equipment, and computers. Putting your lives at risk when a fight breaks out to ensure security. Providing therapy for children with social, emotional, and physical needs. Visiting their family’s home to see what services are needed to get them back to school.  

One member replied to my last e-mail: “The one that broke my heart was being at a school where a child was being sent from foster care to foster care. She had formed a bond with the clerical staff in that school; one person in particular. When she was leaving, I don’t know who was crying more, the student or the clerk. The student didn’t want to leave because, and I quote ‘You’re the only real Mom I know’”. 

We will continue to do our best to illustrate to the leadership that it is our members who are the backbone of this District. 

With Sincere Appreciation,  

Dan DiClemente, President  

BENTE/AFSCME Local 2419 

The Support Staff that Supports Students” 

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