Today’s news:

Astoria autism group to vote on unionizing

After months of a labor dispute and negotiations, Astoria-based Quality Services for the Autism Community and the Civil Service Employees Association Local 100 reached an agreement last week to let employees decide if they want to unionize.

State Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) helped broker an agreement between the autism care provider and the local health-care union that would allow employees to decide through a neutrality/card check system.

“It’s a fair agreement,” QSAC Executive Director Maffei said.

CSEA organizer Paul Frank credited Gianaris for helping both sides get a dialogue going.

“We’re very thankful to him,” Franks said.

The agreement bridges a gap that widened last summer when the local began a union drive at QSAC, calling for better working conditions and higher pay for health care workers there.

Maffei countered that his employees were being targeted by a dues-hungry union and he wanted to make sure the wishes of his workers — to unionize or not — were properly heard.

“I am pleased the parties were able to negotiate an agreement that will serve QSAC’s employees as well as its consumers,” Gianaris said. “I hope all parties can now work together to provide the best possible assistance to those served by QSAC.”

“The negotiated solution is fair and has been accepted by the union and QSAC management,” Gianaris added. “I am glad I was able to help.”

Gianaris began hosting negotiations between the two parties in November after talks had stalled.

Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-Corona), the father of an autistic child and an outspoken supporter of QSAC, applauded the agreement Monday.

“This agreement is a win-win situation for clients, employees and QSAC and is the first step towards protecting and improving clients’ quality of care.”

Reach Reporter Tom Nicholson by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300. Ext. 157.

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