Yonkers shortfall cuts staff, services

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YONKERS — As has happened many times in previous years, Yonkers city leaders are imposing massive layoffs as the city grapples with a huge budget shortfall.

Due to a $45.3 million city budget gap, members of the Yonkers Board of Education voted May 17 to cut 127 jobs from the CSEA Yonkers School District Unit, including bus monitors, safety officers, clerical workers, school aides and custodial workers. Many non-CSEA positions, including teachers, firefighters and police officers, are also slated for layoffs.

“This is going to cripple our school system because we’re already at bare bones,” said Unit President Lionel Turner.

Turner said he and his members are outraged that after just recently ratifying a fair contract, they are now being asked to make concessions. Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano was quoted in local media stating that he won’t support exceeding the state tax cap to help make up the shortfall without givebacks from city unions.

“We’ve already made concessions,” Turner said. “The city apparently knew this was coming. These shortfalls have become a pattern for the city. Blaming the unions is wrong. Our unit is strong and united, and we’re going to keep fighting for our members.”

Yonkers is one of the state’s Big 5 school districts; these districts are in cities with over 125,000 residents in which school funding comes via city budgets. That funding structure has been a source of repeated financial crises over the years.

“We will not allow the Yonkers Board of Education and the city to continue treating us in this manner,” said Yonkers Public Schools Unit 3rd Vice President Yvonne Couto, a bus monitor, to elected officials at a city budget forum. “How much do our students, CSEA members and teachers have to give up on a yearly basis? What more can you possibly take away?”

— Jessica Ladlee

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Jessica Ladlee

Jessica Ladlee is the communications specialist for CSEA's Southern Region. A graduate of Boston University, Ladlee is an award-winning journalist who worked as a newspaper editor before joining the CSEA communications team in 2004. She is passionate about the opportunities unions provide for people to join the middle class, something her grandmother did as a Rockland County CSEA member over 50 years ago.

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