Dear BFSA membership,
This will serve as notice to the membership of the current state of negotiations with the Fund. In order to provide context as to where we are now I will be referring to 2017 when the BFSA initially made contact with the Fund to begin the process of negotiations.
In late 2017 the BFSA reached out to the Fund to begin the process of negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement. According to past practice, we initiate with a request for the BFSA to hold Negotiation Team meetings to notify the membership, collect data and send out surveys. These actions are required to develop our proposals. Our initial request was denied by Human Resources. This was the first indication that the Fund may not be as interested in negotiations as we are.
Soon after, I made a statement to 1199 Executive Brandy Shiloh who will be on the Funds' Negotiation Team, that I as President of the BFSA do not wish to put any items up for negotiations that cannot be realistically negotiated with the Fund. No item or proposal will be presented without valid data on the provision, and all our proposals will be fully supported by a majority of the BFSA membership. The membership is the true voice speaking when we get to that table.
As the expiration of our contract approached, we continued to reach out to the Fund to little avail. Another instance of the Funds' seeming desire to slow down this process so we then reached out to our lawyer for advice. He advised that although the contract expires the current CBA remains in force. This info was shared with the membership at the time.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, our attorney (as per the BFSA Vice President) insisted that we meet and review proposed changes prior to inviting him to our next negotiation committee meeting. We reviewed the proposals and updated contract language. At one point during this meeting it was suggested that the BFSA consider postponing negotiations until our upcoming relocation. Which would effectively extend our current (yet expired) contract to 5 years. This is unheard of. Never in the history of the BFSA has such an event occurred. I immediately dismissed this, and questioned how such a postponement would even benefit our Union. I have yet to get a truly valid reason for allowing such a delay. Yes, a new location will bring changes. That is expected, but any changes that create an adverse situation for our members will be met with the full force of the BFSA back by Labor Law.
Although this was suggested by our attorney, please know that this may be another tactic by the Funds, and that the advice was meant to plant the seeds in the minds of the BFSA Executive Board in order to manipulate this negotiation process. Such tactics are to be considered unacceptable and working in Bad Faith. However, this is only speculation at this time, but my position calls for me to consider every possibility when it comes to negotiating a contract that will affect the working lives of my membership.
I feel very strongly about all matters because it is my position to do so but also some hints that are being dropped here and there. I do not entertain rumor or speculation. I wish only to deal with facts. But please also be aware that some rumor may have truth behind them and I always seek the truth. That said, I must inform you that as the end of 2018 approached it was said that the Fund was trying to "wait this administration out". I responded that the Executive Board is not the BFSA. I am not the BFSA. The MEMBERSHIP is the BFSA!!!!! To deny the right to be heard is to deny the right of all members of our Union. In another instance, just this last December, a veteran Executive Board Officer stated that our future as employees of the Fund is "Sit Down, Look Straight, SAY NOTHING! Be lucky you have a job." These statements disgust me. They are only more signs of bad faith, if true. I have stated many, many times that I do not wish to battle the Fund. I have ALWAYS been respectful and Professional. No matter what anyone says, this will always be how I am. That being said, I will never back down if Truth and Justice is taken from any of us in any way, shape, form, or fashion.
The BFSA Executive Board had discussed the possibility of delaying negotiations in order to brainstorm how it may benefit us. We came to an understanding that nothing we do now can or will be different if we wait. The main conclusion we've determined is that the Fund wants to wait as they may have more influence over a new BFSA administration that has not seen or experienced what we have over the years. A vote was made during BFSA Executive Board Meeting held on February 7th 2019 to move forward with negotiations.
And to solidify that this decision is valid during a meeting that same afternoon Human Resources informed us that yet another department is being effectively Outsourced. The Employer Services Unit located on the 27th floor is being restructured due to the new Provider Portal. This technology is essentially eliminating Union Positions and 4 out of 5 BFSA members in the department will be affected. Yes only four, but remember a cardinal rule of any Union. An Injury To One is and Injury to ALL!
I have been ringing this very bell since 2004! The Writings are on the wall. Much Change is upon us and if we do not change we will be swept away by it, by all means we must strengthen our Union and stop relinquishing the little power we have left to the Fund.
During one of our last Negotiation Team Meeting on Monday, February 11th 2019. Our BFSA attorney attended and all items have been given for his review. Once he creates a Legal Document in the form of proper proposals we will then distribute it to the Membership for your review and approval.
Remember, You are the True Power of this Union! Let your voices be heard.
Much More To Come.
In ABSOLUTE Solidarity,
Nelsun Rivera, President of The Benefit Fund Staff Association Telephone Representative, Provider Relations Call Center 4th Fl. 1199SEIU National Benefit and Pension Funds (646) 473-7160 Ext: 4177 BFSA information: BFSA Hours of Operation 8AM - 6PM Monday-Friday
9th Floor Office Hours of Operation: Monday/Wednesday/Friday 1:00PM - 5:00PM Tuesday/Thursday 12:00pm - 5:00PM Contact information: BenefitFundStaff@gmail.com Internal (FUND) Phone: (646) 473-5373 External Phone: (212) 239-7896 NelsunRiveraBFSA@gmail.com Mobile Phone: (646)752-3678