Manhattan DA candidate celebrates teachers' victory for school safety

Diana Florence is a long-time former public school parent + former CEC 2 member

NEW YORK, NY (09/01/2020) (readMedia)-- Today, the city and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), Council of School Supervisors & Administrators (CSA), and DC 37 reached a deal to start school on September 21st in order to better prepare, as well as mandatory COVID-19 testing. Yesterday, UFT announced that 200,000 New York City Public School teachers and administrators would strike over the city and Department of Education's lack of COVID-19 precautions and preparedness. Diana Florence - a candidate for Manhattan District Attorney- is a former public school parent and served for two years on the Community Education Council, District 2. She previously was the head of the Manhattan DA's Construction Fraud Task Force and won landmark cases over workplace safety.

The Mayor and unions announced a delayed start of school in order to prepare for a safer re-opening. Teachers' demands include three buckets of precaution including sanitation supplies, remote and outdoor procedures, and mandatory COVID-19 testing for students and teachers.

Diana Florence said, "As a product of public schools myself, a long-time, former public school parent and member of CEC 2, I know how hard teachers work to prepare students for the future; this is the least the Mayor could have done to prepare a reopening plan that makes sure teachers can do their job safely. When a private sector employer recklessly disregards health and safety laws and puts its workforce at risk, it's up to the DA to criminally investigate, like I did as head of the Construction Fraud Taskforce. Public sector employees deserve the same protection."

This would have been the first teachers' strike since 1975. The Taylor Law, which allows for automatic contract extensions if a contract negotiation exceeds its deadlines, but also bars union members from striking as a negotiation tactic.

"The Taylor Law was meant to apply to wage and benefit negotiations, not health and safety. Protecting our teachers and children from a deadly virus is non-negotiable. Teachers and school administrators should not have to weigh going to work and possibly infecting their families, and the families of 1.1 million school children," said Florence.

About Diana Florence

Diana Florence began her career as a prosecutor 25 years ago in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, focusing on domestic violence cases, then complex frauds and corruption in the Special Prosecutions Bureau and Labor Racketeering Unit, and later becoming the head of the first of its kind Construction Fraud Task Force. She won landmark convictions against companies and individuals for defrauding 9/11 charities, corruption, domestic violence, wage theft, and deadly work conditions. She has taught trial advocacy for over two decades to lawyers in the DA's Office and has lectured investigators and lawyers from around the world on topics ranging from inter-agency cooperation to prosecuting fraud, racketeering and workplace homicide.

As an ADA, Diana held powerful interests accountable by prosecuting developers and corrupt corporations for cheating workers and taxpayers. In an historic case against Harco Construction, she ultimately secured justice for the family of a 22 year-old construction worker, Carlos Moncayo, who was buried alive at work. Using the existing criminal law, Diana charged the corporations and site supervisors, who had been repeatedly warned of hazardous conditions, with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide for Moncayo's death. As a result, she drafted legislation (A10728) named after Carlos Moncayo, known as "Carlos' Law" that would establish higher fines for corporations for endangering workers' lives.

Diana has made prosecuting wage theft a centerpiece of her career, notably working alongside IronWorkers Local 361 to secure $6 million in stolen wages and back-pay from AGL Industries. Diana subsequently wrote a bill (A06795) with Assemblymember Catalina Cruz (D-Queens) to reclassify wage theft as the more serious crime of larceny. Other jurisdictions- like the Pittsburgh City Council and Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner- subsequently created similar prosecution models for wage theft.

Born in Manhattan, Diana is a long-time resident of Kips Bay where she lives with her husband and two children. Diana graduated with Phi Beta Kappa honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, receiving a BA in Art History with a concentration in Spanish as well as her law degree.

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