BY GREGORY N. HEIRES
DC 37 mourns the loss of Evelyn Seinfeld, for years the union’s chief negotiator, who died on June 20 after a long battle with cancer. She was 68 years old.
Evelyn, who worked at DC 37 from 1975 until her retirement earlier this year, was admired by her colleagues for her passion for mentoring and her encyclopedic knowledge of the civil service system, its rules and regulations, and DC 37’s many contracts.
Together with then-DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts, she led the negotiations with the city for the union’s current 2010-17 economic agreement, which preserves the premium-free medical coverage of more than 100,000 members and provides for a total wage increase of 10.41 percent.
“Evelyn was a keen technician and an expert in labor relations,” DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido said. “She worked in a very specialized business that many of us regard as abstract—and even incomprehensible. But she never lost track of the true value of her work, which for Evelyn meant looking out for our members and their jobs.”
She began her career at the union as a research librarian in the DC 37 Research and Negotiations Dept. Before then, she worked for five years as a librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library. She maintained her roots as a librarian throughout her career, serving as the negotiator for Brooklyn Library Guild 1482.
In Research and Negotiations, she worked her way up to positions of assistant director and associate director before being appointed Director in 2011.
Evelyn leaves behind a legacy that will continue to shape labor relations well into the future.
She wrote a substantial portion of the Citywide Contract, which deals with such non-salary issues as time and leave rules, workplace protections, job security, benefits and pay practices, and the language of many other contracts.
She championed the rights of workers with disabilities, helped secure due process rights for provisional workers, protected civil service rights, established severance plans for workers facing layoffs and worked on recently approved legislation that will help provisional workers gain permanent jobs. Years ago, she helped secure payments for thousands of workers whose raises were deferred during the 1970s fiscal crisis.
“There is not a single member of District Council 37 who has not benefited from her knowledge and efforts in all her various roles in the Research and Negotiations Department,” her successor, David Paskin, said in eulogy at her funeral service at Sinai Chapels in Fresh Meadows, N.Y. on June 21.
“With tremendous effort, time and will, we can hope to piece together Evelyn’s institutional knowledge. What we cannot do is replace her—her spirit, her determination, her concern and her compassion.”
“The loss to her friends and family is devastating,” said her close friend Amy Kadlub, the union’s Director of Human Resources. “Evelyn was a unique person in that she gave selflessly to everyone.”
She is survived by her twin sister Phyllis and sister and brother-in-law, Bernice and Norman Colten.
Contributions in her name may be sent to Jobs with Justice or the Congregation Sons of Israel, 1 Poplar Place, Ocean, N.J. 17712.