‘A slap in the face:' Hundreds of front line NYC school food service workers haven’t been paid in a month

Ameche Greene, a city school food service employee at Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn hasn't been paid for his front line work in a month.
Ameche Greene, a city school food service employee at Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn hasn't been paid for his front line work in a month.(Courtesy, Ameche Greene)

They feed the needy, provide nourishment for first responder families and haven’t seen a dime from the city in at least a month.
A snafu with the Education Department’s payroll system left 280 city school food service workers without pay since at least April 2, the Daily News has learned.
“It feels like a slap in the face. We’re working for the first-responders, we’re on the front lines, but we’re not being paid for it,” fumed Ameche Greene, a food service worker at Boys and Girls High School in Brooklyn.
The employees, including Greene used to pick up their pay in person and were promised checks would be sent by mail during the coronavirus lockdown. Since that hasn’t happened, some can’t afford their rent, Metrocards, or utility bills.
Boys and Girls High School on Fulton St. in Brooklyn.
Boys and Girls High School on Fulton St. in Brooklyn.(Gardiner Anderson/for New York Daily News)
Greene, 47, has been preparing meals for essential workers’ kids since schools closed on March 16. He has missed out on his last two paychecks, on April 15 and April 30, and is out nearly $1500.
Some workers missed the April 2 pay day as well, and haven’t been paid since mid-March, union officials said.
Greene, a father of two and sole breadwinner for his family during the pandemic, can no longer afford the MetroCard he needs to commute to work from his home in Jersey City, so he’s started using his paid sick days to stay home. The family can’t afford laundry or utility bills until he gets paid, he said.
Donald Nesbit, Vice President of DC37 Local 372 (left) with food service worker Ameche Greene.
Donald Nesbit, Vice President of DC37 Local 372 (left) with food service worker Ameche Greene.(Courtesy, Donald Nesbitt)
“I’ve been getting by somewhat with food but it’s going low,” said Greene, who took his eight- and ten-year-old children to work with him.
Many school food service workers, including Greene, ordinarily pick up paychecks at their jobs or nearby district sites. When most of the city’s 1,400 school buildings were closed, the food workers were consolidated into 435 buildings to prepare “grab-and-go” meals for needy families and to feed the children of first-responders at the city’s Regional Enrichment Centers.
Education department officials said delivering checks to schools was “logistically impossible” during the pandemic. They distributed April 2 paychecks at a central office in downtown Brooklyn — the last payment Greene received. Other workers weren’t so lucky, missing the April 2 distribution because they got out of work too late, said Donald Nesbit, Vice President of DC 37 Local 372.
After April 2, officials moved to send all payment by mail. They sent a survey in late March urging employees to enroll in direct deposit or enter their home addresses for mail delivery. The agency also distributed flyers at schools, and created a call-in line.
But Nesbit said lots of his members never got the survey because it was sent to official Education Department email addresses that many food workers never use and don’t even know about.
“I don’t even know how to log in,” said Greene, who still hasn’t seen the survey.
When Greene’s paycheck didn’t arrive as expected on April 15, he thought it was stuck in the mail. He said when he learned about the survey afterward, his supervisor told him it was taken care of, filled out on his behalf.
As the delay stretched into late April, Greene grew desperate. He and scores of other workers contacted union officials demanding answers.

When the union learned the Education Department couldn’t resolve the issue until May 15, they contacted city Comptroller Scott Stringer to help.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that they’ve been left in limbo and have not been paid for their hard work,” said Stringer.

Education Department officials said they’ve designated five sites across the city where the 280 workers will be able to pick up their missing checks starting Monday — and while there, will collect mailing addresses for future paychecks.

“When we were moving payroll offices remote, we conducted a significant amount of outreach to make sure we had updated mailing information,” said Education Department spokesman Nathaniel Styer.

"Delays are unacceptable and we are working to make sure we have accurate addresses so that this is resolved for the next pay cycle.”

Angry workers say the debacle could’ve been avoided altogether.

Greene wonders why the city couldn’t set up distribution places sooner. Education Department officials said they didn’t know about the missed payments until the union told them on April 28, even though workers harangued their supervisors for weeks.

Nesbit noted that the Education Department has an address on file for every worker, and said the agency could have sent checks to those addresses, if employees who didn’t fill out the survey. Officials said many of the addresses on file are out of date and they couldn’t risk sending the checks to a wrong places.

For Caniyah Robinson, 28, a Brooklyn worker who hasn’t been paid since April 2, the reason for the delay matters less than its disastrous consequences.

“We have real life things to take care of,” she said, like the May rent she owes.

“We can’t sit here and tell our landlord we’re sitting here and waiting for ‘check management.’ This is the worst time to be cut off from anything.”


  1. Probably Africans like him running the payroll system, so what does he expect?

  2. DeBraggio could care less.....


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