The Rochester Police Accountability Board tried to unionized with Workers United. The city wants them in AFSCME. Rochester skyline: Theresa Marconi via Wikimedia Commons | Illustration: Maia Hibbett for New York Focus
Can an oversight group be in the same union as the police it monitors?
By Maggie Duffy

A public sector union in Rochester has spent the past 14 months fighting for recognition from a mayor who is required under city charter to recognize it.

The Police Accountability Board, a civilian oversight group that Rochester voters overwhelmingly approved in 2019, filed to unionize last October. It was the first police oversight board in the country to take the step. The board is seeking recognition with Workers United, a national union whose upstate branches have gained attention for successful Starbucks organizing drives.

For over a year since, Rochester Mayor Malik Evans has resisted calls to recognize the union.

The Department of Labor encourages claimants to use an AI chatbot rather than calling. Photo: Dorothea Lange / Library of Congress | Illustration: Maia Hibbett
A Rochester man lost his job while his daughter went through cancer treatment. He’s struggled to communicate with the DOL for months.
By Maxwell Parrott

Frank Antinetto's battle with the New York Department of Labor started with the sudden appearance of a bruise on his 14-year-old daughter’s arm. After her hospital admission on May 22, she was diagnosed with leukemia in Rochester and sent a thousand miles away, to a children’s cancer center in Memphis. Antinetto, a janitor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, texted his boss that he would miss work while his daughter Jazzy went through chemotherapy.

Within a month of Jazzy’s diagnosis, Antinetto was fired, supposedly for failing to let his employer know his whereabouts. He filed for unemployment insurance, which would have paid him $440 per week. After more than six months of pursuit, he hadn't received a cent. In spite of New York’s progressive reputation, Antinetto’s situation is common.

Two days after New York Focus and News10NBC Investigates published this story and six months after he first filed for unemployment, the Department of Labor informed Frank Antinetto that it had approved his claim. He stands to receive over $2,500 in retroactive benefits, dating back to a hearing in October, and $360 per week going forward.

He said it was the first time he had ever received a call from a human representative at the department.

NYPD Police Academy Graduation Ceremony at Madison Square Garden in 2014. Diana Robinson
Police training materials link the discredited “excited delirium syndrome” to synthetic marijuana use.
By Chris Gelardi

In 2020, after Rochester police killed Daniel Prude by pinning him to the ground for several minutes with a knee on his back, an autopsy named excited delirium as a contributing factor in his death. Attorney General Letitia James unsuccessfully sought to indict the officers who killed Prude — and issued a report arguing that first responders “must be trained to recognize the symptoms of excited delirium syndrome and to respond to it as a serious medical emergency.”


Copyright © New York Focus 2023, All rights reserved.
Staying Focused is compiled and written by Alex Arriaga
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