BENTE Union Update (12-14-20)

BENTE Union Update (12-14-20)
December 15, 2020

Please take note of the following updates: 

GIFT BAGS: The past couple of weeks, we have been handing out gift bags to all members who have been negatively impacted from the shutdown. They were incredibly grateful and overwhelmed by the fact that other members of the union made donations to help them during this difficult time. 

We were able to provide 300 members with a gift bag totaling $65, along with wrapped gifts to the children of those who have been laid off. This was made possible due to the following: 

  • A $10 Wegmans gift card that was purchased for them by the BENTE Union for the holidays 
  • The $10 Wegmans gift card that was donated to them by over 300 members 
  • The BENTE/AFSCME Local 2419 Executive Board authorizing a $6,000 donation from the treasury 
  • BENTE Members and BENTE Union Officers who made individual cash donations 
  • Members from other bargaining units in the RCSD who made individual cash donations 
  • Occupational and Physical Therapists who collected and donated $1,000 from members of their own department 
  • Substantial donations from other area labor unions: The Rochester Labor Council, Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFSCME City of Rochester employees Local 1635, Erie County Workers of AFSCME Local 1095, American Postal Workers Union, and Brockport UUP. 

For a short video capturing some of the members who came to get their gift, please click here.

For television coverage, please click on the following links: 

RECALLS: The decision to return students in need of specialized services as of January 4, has resulted in some employees being recalled to their title, such as five School Safety Officers (SSO’s). Another four SSO’s were called back due to three resignations and one promoting to a different position. That still leaves 40 SSO’s who will remain laid off. If the reopening plan takes place as scheduled in February, more will be recalled. 

As for the members in Food Services, it is much more complicated. The District has cut their hours and demoted some from their title. A recall to a position with hours that are half of what they worked prior to the shutdown is not that lucrative. And the District has taken the stance that if they turn the job down, they lose their recall rights, backing them into a corner. The Union has filed a grievance on the reduction of hours, and we are in talks right now to try and make the decision to accept or decline the position with reduced hours a voluntary one, rather than a decision imposed upon them. Our request has been rejected twice. We are hoping that the third time is the charm. 

These recalls hinge upon the notion that the reopening plan moves ahead as outlined, and there are many variables that could throw a wrench into a target that is continuously moving. 

CURE HOLIDAY PARTY: Every year for the past 40 years, the BENTE Union has partnered with CURE (Cancer Updates Research and Education) to put on a party for families of children who have been diagnosed with cancer. Due to Covid-19, we had to cancel the event this year, the risk being too great to the participants dealing with compromised immune systems. We are disappointed in not being able to provide these children with a festive evening that culminates with a visit from Santa Claus bearing gifts. 

Kailee Kwiecien, granddaughter of Bob Kwiecien (a member of BENTE in the Accounting department at the District’s Central Office) would grace us with her presence every year. The “Kick It Kailee” team was filled with hundreds of loving supporters who were in her corner as she waged a courageous battle against rhabdomyosarcoma. She defied the odds countless times and amazed staff with her willingness to actively participate in her medical care and procedures. We all looked forward to seeing her bright smile as she made her way up to the stairs and onto the stage to see the man in the big red suit. 

After an inspirational battle with cancer, Kailee Marie Kwiecien died at home on November 23, 2020 surrounded by her loved ones. 

The BENTE/AFSCME Local 2419 Executive Board has authorized a $1,000 donation to the CURE organization in her name. We encourage all of you who normally participate in the purchase of gifts for the BENTE CURE holiday party to do the same. Gifts in Kailee’s memory may be directed to CURE Childhood Cancer Association, 200 Westfall Road, Rochester, NY 14620. 

CONDOLENCES: Former School Safety Officer, Tommie Williams, passed away on November 10, 2020. Tommie was a kind and gentle man who started with the District on November 23, 1998. He worked at School Of The Arts for many years and finished his career at School #28. He was 63 years of age.  

Anne Marie Hetzer also worked at School of the Arts for many years as an Office Clerk. She passed away peacefully at her home on Sunday, December 6, 2020 at age 64.Her personality could be larger than life. An old-school Italian lady through and through, she would cook, clean, and bark orders with the best of them. Beloved by her family, adored by her friends, feared by anyone who dare cross her, Anne Marie was one of the strongest women I ever met. 

Beverly King, a Cook Manager at School #19, passed away this morning. Beverly was a sweet person who kept in frequent contact with staff members at the school, despite taking a recent leave of absence. 

Rest In Peace. 

RETIREMENTS: There have been an inordinate number of retirements this year, especially in the Department of School Food Services. It saddens me to see such good people leave the District before their time because of the stress created by the shutdown. We thank them for their many years of service and wish them all a happy and healthy retirement. 

BONNIE FERRARI: BENTE Recording Secretary, Bonnie Ferrari, has been a faithful supporter of the Union and a dedicated District employee for more than forty years. She is retiring from her position as a Cook Manager at the end of the month. Bonnie always looked out for the best interest of the members in her department, she knew all their names, she cared about everyone in their family. I would talk to her at least two to three times a day, making sure any member issues were being addressed in a timely manner. She will be sorely missed by everyone who had the pleasure of knowing her. 

Sonia Alvarado, also a Cook Manager for the RCSD, has been appointed to the vacant position of Recording Secretary. Sonia took to the podium at the “Rally for Respect”, speaking out against any layoffs. “I feel comfortable about leaving my position in such capable hands,” Bonnie Ferrari said about Sonia. “I know she will do well in that position and it will be a seamless transition. Sonia will be a great addition to the BENTE Union team.” 

We extend wishes of a healthy and happy retirement to Bonnie Ferrari and our congratulations to Sonia Alvarado. 

FEDERAL STIMULUS: We remain hopeful that some sort of stimulus package will be passed this week. It is hard to imagine that members of Congress could go back home for the holidays without passing any form of relief for working families who are struggling. Our members who were laid off are struggling without any additional unemployment assistance from the federal government, and some are still waiting on unemployment checks from New York State. 

Governor Cuomo is predicting a $16 billion dollar deficit for New York State this upcoming budget year, and that would most certainly result in a decrease in aid to school districts. Congress needs to pass a stimulus package that includes aid to state and local governments and school districts to fund the vital public services our members provide for the community. 


In Solidarity,  

Dan DiClemente, President  
BENTE/AFSCME Local 2419  

“The Support Staff that Supports Students”    

If you have an issue or comment, please do not hesitate to e-mail me directly at    

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