MANHATTAN — Working at the state Department of Motor Vehicles in recent months has been as challenging as midtown Manhattan traffic, which is why CSEA staff, officers and activists recently visited a few offices throughout New York City to express the union’s appreciation.
“We’re in the middle of a pandemic and it’s great that our union came out to see us and hear from us,” said Nahida Akter, a motor vehicle representative. “[It] makes me feel like our voices matter and that we’re not forgotten.”
Observing all proper safety protocols and practices, CSEA Metropolitan Region staff set up tables just outside the DMV midtown offices and were joined by Executive Vice President Denise Berkley, Metropolitan Region President Lester Crockett, DMV Unit President Dawn Destine and Unit Secretary Ashley Holt.
CSEA’s DMV Unit was created at the start of the year and since then, the unit and New York City State Employees Local officers and CSEA staff have been immersed in a range of issues and concerns, including dealing with the barrage of customers and mandated overtime associated with the Real ID, the enhanced ID and the Greenlight program, said Destine.
“We have been bombarded with crisis after crisis before and since the pandemic,” said Destine. “It is crucial for our DMV members to understand that we have a place at the table, now more than ever before.”
Behind a Plexiglas window and using a special tool to hand out CSEA bags, the union’s Deputy Director for State Operations (Metropolitan Region) Liam Russertt praised DMV workers for their labor and sacrifices.
“During COVID, essential workers still have to carry out their jobs,” said Russertt. “CSEA members are there for the public, so we want to be there for them so they don’t feel like they are alone in this pandemic. The public didn’t know how essential DMV workers were until DMV closed.”
The presence of Berkley, Crockett, Contract Administration Specialist Steven Williams and Political Action Coordinator Matt D’Amico also allowed members to engage leadership and staff with any questions and concerns.
“I had a few work-related questions I needed to ask but didn’t have a personal point of contact, but then I see our union representatives here,” said Rodney Hardy, a motor vehicle representative. “I feel like it’s a lot more inviting than a computer screen for a motor vehicle representative like myself and more personable.”
In times of such anxiety and uncertainty, Berkley said the outreach is “important because it gives us an opportunity for the DMV members to meet their unit leadership, their Region leadership and their Statewide leadership. It also reminds them that they are not alone. We see you, we hear you and we are not afraid to fight for you.”
— David Galarza