PAB addresses plans to unionize for better job protection

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The saga continues for the staff of the Rochester Police Accountability Board. Thursday they addressed their continued plans to move forward and unionize for better job protection.

News10NBC talked to both Board members and their supporters. Some staff members say their working environment is purely toxic, and they can’t do the work they need to.

“In the last month, working conditions at the PAB has grown intolerable. Management regularly refused to speak to staff or respond to our emails and messages,” said Marina Pacheco-Walker, Secretary to the PAB.

Dozens of people stood on the steps of City Hall Thursday to show their support for the remaining members of the Rochester Police Accountability Board. “Remaining” because over the last couple of months a number of members have been fired or stepped down.

Brandy Cooper is one of them. She was a PAB Accountability Inspector until this week when she says Board management accepted her resignation, which she says she never sent.

“This amongst other similar cases is exactly why we have organized to protect against unfair discipline and wrongful termination,” said Cooper.

It’s been weeks now since members of the Accountability Board have been calling to unionize, with the Workers United Upstate New York Union.

“A union will guarantee that workers like me have due process and in review, in a situation like this today, there has been no due process because there is no union,” said Cooper. “The time for recognition is now,”

Speaking of recognition, many of these workers have been calling out City leaders, including Mayor Malik Evans, for what they say is his failure to see them as a union.

“The power for him to do so is laid out plainly in our city’s charter,” said PAB Digital Forensic Analyst. “Still he refuses to meet or speak with us insisting that recognition is the responsibility of the City Council.”

The PAB has one major ally in its corner, Rochester City Councilmember Stanley Martin.

“The staff are public service workers,” said Martin. “They are city employees so it makes sense to support their union. I believe in unions. I’m pro-union so that’s why I’m here, and I’m hoping that my colleagues will also show up and support this union of city workers.”

Mayor Malik Evans sent us this statement saying, “The charter provisions governing the mayoral role in the establishment of unions precede the creation of the PAB, and provisions do not address the unique relationship between the PAB and the City Administration.”

Evans goes on to say, “It is not appropriate for the Mayor to be further engaged in internal PAB matters.”

More of our coverage of the Rochester Police Accountability Board