Page 13 - Work Force July-August 2020
P. 13

Park serves as oasis during difficult times
 BROOKLYN — While monuments to white supremacy are being toppled across the land, a living monument named for a local African American woman and legendary member of Congress has become a popular haven for visitors.
The 407-acre Shirley Chisholm State Park, the newest state park located in New York City, has been offering pandemic-weary New Yorkers a safe, clean and natural respite for the past few months.
“It’s been busy,” said Michael Pezzella, a parks and recreation aide. “It was challenging (staffing with half the workers), but
I am glad that we
were able to stay
open and operational
for the patrons of Brooklyn and the five boroughs who want to visit our beautiful park.”
The park offers a stunning view of Jamaica Bay, departures and arrivals at John F. Kennedy International Airport and a Gotham City-like view of the New York City skyline.
When patrons are not enjoying the views, they can partake in any
number of activities, including biking, picnicking, birding and fishing.
For local residents, the peace and serenity of the park has offered them a necessary, if temporary, escape from the pain and suffering all around them. As of mid-May, the sprawling housing complex next
to the park known as Starrett City was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, with 612 Coronavirus deaths per 100,000 residents.
“It’s just good for your mental health,” said Park Worker Samantha Moy. “We are still in a pandemic.”
Aside from regular park maintenance and management, park crews are also busy making sure safety protocols are being followed.
“The biggest struggle is ensuring safety of the patrons and staff and practicing social distancing,” said Pezzella.
Not unlike the park’s namesake, the first Black woman in Congress, Shirley Chisolm, local residents have a park that can also offer hope and inspiration during a time filled with so much loss and uncertainty.
“It’s our little oasis in the concrete jungle,” said Pezzella.
— David Galarza
Samantha Moy, a parks and recreation aide at Shirley Chisholm State Park, helps maintain this Brooklyn oasis.
CSEA members work hard to keep Shirley Chisholm State Park pristine.
  July-August 2020
The Work Force 13
 Supreme Court bans workplace discrimination for LGBTQ, transgender workers
 The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a decision that firing someone for their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression is a violation of the sex discrimination prohibition of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The court handed down the 6-3 decision on June 15, consolidating three cases that addressed discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation: G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission, Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga. and Altitude Express v. Zarda.
These decisions will have a far-reaching impact and are being closely monitored both by employers and the LGBTQ+ community. Before the court’s decision, 21 states and the District of Columbia prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
“[This] decision is a great victory for workplace equality and we applaud the Supreme Court for
voting to ban discrimination against LGBTQ+ workers,” CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan said. “CSEA has long stood up for the rights of our LGBTQ+ members to be afforded the same protections and rights
as everyone else in the workplace, especially the right to not be fired or discriminated against due to their sexual orientation or gender identity/ expression.”
Chantalise DeMarco, chair of our union’s statewide LGBTQ Committee, noted that the decision is a big step
forward for those workers without union contracts.
“So many workers throughout the country are not so fortunate as our CSEA members to have union contracts that protect them from discrimination on the job,” DeMarco said. “This is an important victory for them, but we must remain ever vigilant that the rights of all our LGBTQ+ workers are protected on and off the job.”
— Mark M. Kotzin and Ove Overmyer

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