Union Organizing: a Civil Right

March 23, 2018 // 0 Comments

Now that the arguments were made — on both sides — in the Janus v. AFSCME case heard before the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 26, the waiting game for the ruling by the court begins. However, we want to make clear that our rights shall not be dictated by a majority of nine in a single legal case. Importantly, our right to organize, collectively bargain with our employers, and stand together as a solid bloc, is a civil right, one that cannot be denied or taken from us. A quote from the American Civil Liberties Union’s on its own stand on collective bargaining says it best: “Unions facilitate and enhance the ability of their members to exercise core civil liberties, such as the First Amendment rights of association, speech and petition.” The U.S. Constitution protects the right to association for individuals with common interests to unite and form organizations to fight — and [More...]

Brooklyn Museum Agrees to Drop Its Plan to Seek Concessions from Workers

March 22, 2018 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES After intense pressure from the union, the Brooklyn Museum agreed to end a two-year effort to win concessions from its unionized staff. The agreement includes a one-time bonus for workers at 25 years of service and a no-layoff clause. The museum pledged not to carry out job cuts until the end of the year or when concluding talks on a new collective bargaining pact — whichever is earlier. “I am happy we managed to stop the talk of layoffs and the museum’s use of part-timers,” said Wilson Souffrant, president of Brooklyn Museum Local 1502. “But this is only the beginning as we move ahead to bargaining on our contract.” In 2016, during tense discussions with the museum about what it described as a budget crisis, Local 1502 agreed to a one-week unpaid furlough for its members, as well as two buyouts. Then in May 2017 the museum asked for more. But members [More...]

Union Benefit Fund Takes on Big Pharma

March 19, 2018 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES As pharmaceutical companies continue their rampant hikes of drug prices and ignore the dangers of their products, DC 37 and other unions’ benefit funds, states, counties and cities are turning to the courts to level the field for our members and the public at large. In recent months, DC 37’s Health & Security Plan has filed 18 lawsuits against the generic drug industry for illegal practices and price gouging. The skyrocketing cost of these drugs flies in the face of the supposed purpose of generic companies, which is to offer less expensive alternatives to brand-name drugs. These lawsuits contend that generic manufacturers conspired to artificially inflate prices in violation of federal and state law. Taking Big Pharma to court over opioids The union is also part of a separate lawsuit filed in December that seeks damages from opioid manufacturers and [More...]

Members Celebrate Irish Heritage

March 15, 2018 // 0 Comments

By MIKE LEE On a rainy Friday night, a crowd of hardy souls braved the first of the two Nor’easters that had struck New York City to celebrate the courage and determination of Irish Americans at the 26th annual Irish Heritage Celebration, held at union headquarters on March 2. DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido took note of the contributions of Irish workers to the labor movement in the United States. “Each ethnic group that immigrates to America faces its own challenges and harsh realities,”Garrido said. “The resilient Irish people were no exception.” “The Irish contribution to unions is profound. And tonight we celebrate that contribution and the success of a people that is richly deserved.” As the storm raged outside, the members and guests at the gathering were treated with fine food and inspiring words from FDNY Chaplin Father Chris Keenan, a member of Local 299. [More...]

The Motown Story

March 13, 2018 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS The history of Motown is an American success story, a musical trajectory of glammed-up girl groups, silky harmonies and smooth dance moves crafted in Detroit at a tiny music studio called Hitsville, USA. The music captured the hearts of America’s youth at a time of unparalleled social upheaval. “The Motown Story,” a play written, directed and acted by union members, plots the record label’s course in a return finale production Feb. 28 to close DC 37’s Black History Month celebration. “These songs are the soundtrack of our lives,” said Associate Director Oliver Gray. “They tell our stories and are such a huge part of our lives.” Motown’s chart-topping tunes of first loves and loves lost gave solace to a nation grappling with civil rights, equality, and the Vietnam War. “The beauty of Motown,” Gray added, “is the music broke down barriers and [More...]

Need Help? Contact the Union’s Personal Service Unit

March 11, 2018 // 0 Comments

DC 37’s Personal Service Unit is a professionally trained social work staff can help with emotional and family concerns, alcoholism, drug abuse, health prob­­lems and adjustment to retirement. Short-term individual and group counseling and referrals are available. Call 212-815-1260 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a screening evaluation. Below are programs and support groups offered by PSU: Are you coping with a chronic illlness? Join a two-session workshop in April Do you have high blood pressure? Asthma? Diabetes? The Personal Service Unit of DC 37’s Health and Security Plan is running a two-session workshop on April 11 and April 18. This workshop will focus on a productive discussion on accepting and coping with chronic illnesses. You will learn about lifestyle tools to encourage healthy management of your chronic illness. Expect useful exercises such as mindful breathing, guided [More...]

Ready to Fight Back? Your Union Leads the Way

March 10, 2018 // 0 Comments

By MIKE LEE More than 100 DC 37 activists and leaders recently participated in Local Union Leadership Academy training sessions at union headquarters to sharpen skills needed to solve problems in the workplace and to engage and empower members. Among those in attendance were representatives from Locals 154, 768, 957, 1251, 1113, 1321 and 1655. The Leadership Academy is part of an ambitious, on-going effort to fortify our union at a time when a Supreme Court case threatens the freedom of American public sector workers. Stressing the importance of preparing leaders and key members for intensive work ahead, Grievance Rep Natasha Isma said, “This training is essential. It is your role as an activist to explain our history, and our benefits. You must share that—teach that. This is your call to action, and your efforts will make a difference for our members.” DC 37 Executive Director [More...]

The Year of the Woman!

March 9, 2018 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Labor kicked off Women’s History Month with a spirited forum urging women to resist, insist and persist in following their passion and achieving visibility and inclusion. “The energy in this room is amazing and what is about to happen will be magical. This is the Year of the Woman!” said Lelani Levin of SSEU Local 371, who co-chairs the Women’s Committee with Carmen Charles, president of Local 420. The diverse and outspoken panel included leaders from various fields: AFSCME Secretary Treasurer Elissa McBride, the Honorable Lisa Ottley, Dr. Una Clarke, City Council member Adrienne Adams, Dr. Sophia Lubin, Judaline Cassidy and Gessie Thompson. Jahmila Joseph, the union’s assistant associate director, enjoyed an “Oprah moment” as moderator of the discussion. “If you want something, go after it, if it’s not there make it yourself,” said Cassidy, a [More...]

Labor’s Black History Makers

March 7, 2018 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Black History Month began with a ribbon-cutting and opening night dedicated to “The African-American Experience in the Labor Movement.” “We chose to honor our First Lady of Labor, Lillian Roberts, who has devoted more than 60 years to the labor movement. No other person alive today embodies our theme this year as Lillian Roberts does,” said Deborah Pitts, the Black History Committee chair who is the union’s secretary and president of Local 1113. “As an organizer and union leader, Lillian broke through glass ceilings and brick walls to build our mighty union, empowering women and including working families’ needs in labor’s fight for dignity and fair wages.” Throughout February locals honored extraordinary labor leaders, past and present, including Ms. Roberts, retired American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employeees Secretary-Treasurer [More...]

Under Attack, Working People Across the Country Rise Up for Freedom

February 27, 2018 // 1 Comment

Working people across the country are demanding an end to our nation’s rigged economy as the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments today in Janus v. AFSCME, a case funded by wealthy special interests to attack workers and their unions. Hundreds of working people spoke out in front of the nation’s highest court with pride and passion about the value of unions to public service workers. Many of those making their voices heard were minorities, who would be especially hard hit if the court rules against working people. “If the Supreme Court’s decision is based on merit, on facts and on the law, there’s no doubt they will rule in favor of working people,” said AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders. “In the face of ruthless, dishonest attacks against their freedom to come together in strong unions, working people are drawing the line. We stand united in fighting a rigged system that [More...]