Open Enrollment for health plans is underway

October 21, 2016 // 0 Comments

Don’t like your health care plan? The time to switch your coverage is underway. For city employees, the fall transfer period of the city’s Health Benefits Program runs from Oct. 22 to Nov. 11. The transfer period for retirees is from Nov.1 to Nov. 30. The change is effective on Jan. 1, 2017, for retirees and in the first payroll period of the month for members. If you want to switch plans, you should visit the Office of Labor Relations section on the city’s website at In addition to general information about the New York City Health Benefits Program, the OLR site has a form you need to process for your change in health-care coverage. City employees have the opportunity to change their plan every year during the fall open enrollment period. With a one-time exception, retirees may only change their plans during even-numbered years. The open enrollment period for the [More...]

MELS: A Pioneering Union Law Firm

October 18, 2016 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO Sept. 15 marked the 39th anniversary of the Municipal Employees Legal Services, one of District Council 37’s most successful programs. Established in 1977, MELS is one of the few pre-paid legal services offered to union members in the country. “When DC 37 started, I thought more unions would follow suit,” said MELS Chief Counsel and Director Joan Beranbaum, who was one of the first attorneys hired by MELS. “But that hasn’t been the case.” After starting as a pilot program, MELS is still going strong, offering eligible union members free legal services to assist them in a variety of issues from help with filing for a divorce, writing a will and becoming a citizen. The plan does not handle criminal cases. Members who are going up against an unscrupulous landlord can get assistance and be represented by a MELS attorney in Housing Court. Buying a home for [More...]

Gold Medal Parents: Union Family Values Spur Olympic Glory

October 12, 2016 // 0 Comments

By MIKE LEE During the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Dalilah Muhammad, a long-time resident of Rochdale, Queens, became the first American woman to win the 400-meter hurdles in a dramatic race, held during a driving rainstorm at Olympic Stadium. Muhammad led from the first hurdle and finished for the gold medal at 53.1 seconds. Her victory came on the heels of a series of championship victories, several after coming back from an injury last year. Her determination to achieve this track and field accomplishment acts as an inspiration for anyone with a wish and a goal in mind. Upon her return home, Dalilah was honored in a parade in Southeast Queens. On Sept. 12, at Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens, Dalilah was recognized along with three other Olympians from the borough. In her speech thanking Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and other dignitaries for the award, Dalilah [More...]

Chaplains Win a Step-Pay Plan in New Deal

October 11, 2016 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Local 299 successfully negotiated with the city to use the additional compensation fund – established under the 2010-17 contract – to improve the step-pay plan of nearly 100 Chaplains. In parallel discussions, the union won a one-time 8 percent raise above the annual contractual hikes for supervising Chaplains, who will soon have a new civil service title. Until now, Chaplains who took on supervisory duties were promoted to an in-house title that reflected their additional responsibilities but without providing extra pay. “The lack of recognition of our Administrative Chaplains has been a long-standing sore point that the union and management were never able to fix,” Local 299 President Jackie Rowe-Adams said. “The positive tone of negotiations over the additional compensation created a climate that allowed us to finally resolve this [More...]

Community Health Liaison Worker at NYC H+H Wins $13,500 in Out-of-Title Grievances

October 7, 2016 // 0 Comments

By MIKE LEE For more than 12 years, SSEU Local 371 member Denise Kittrell has worked for NYC Health+Hospitals as a Community Liaison Worker I at the Sydenham Health Center in Harlem. Beginning in 2012, management began assigning out-of-title duties to Kittrell. Management mandated that she perform HIV swab testing and counseling, thus blurring the lines of her position and egregiously increasing her workload. Ms. Kittrell filed a grievance, and the union successfully won her $3,500, as well as a cease-and-desist order prohibiting NYC H+H from assigning Kittrell duties beyond her community liaison work. As they say, some people don’t listen and in this case, the exploitation of Kittrell’s hard work at the Sydenham Health Center continued. Management ignored the initial decision, and immediately ordered Kittrell to again perform HIV swab testing and counseling. Within a month, in [More...]

Building Labor’s Fortress

October 7, 2016 // 0 Comments

While union membership declined nationwide in the last 15 years, New York City has seen a growth of organized workers that is already showing a positive impact on city and state politics. This resurgence of city unions is discussed in the annual report, “State of the Unions: 2016,” published by the Murphy Institute at the City University of New York. In their research, the authors of the annual report, Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce, found that the organized workforce in New York City has increased significantly, from 21.5 percent to 25.5 percent since 2012. The authors attribute the growth to the recovery of construction and hospitality industries that took a direct hit in the economic crisis 0f 2008. But there are also several other factors that have bolstered union power in the city. A major contribution has been the Fight for $15 movement, which DC 37 has been a part of since [More...]

Unions Benefits All Workers

October 6, 2016 // 0 Comments

Discussions about wage stagnation typically focus on the impact of globalization, labor-saving technology and the drop in the minimum wage. Unions are usually left out of the picture. This is odd, because the decline of unions has a lot to do with the wage stagnation of private-sector workers over the past 35 years. It follows that an improvement of working families must be accompanied by a resurgence of the labor movement. During the post-World War II era, wages of American workers increased steadily as union membership grew. But over the last three-and-a-half decades, non-union workers in the private sector have seen their pay stagnate as the private-sector workforce represented by unions has dwindled. Today, only 7 percent of private-sector workers enjoy union representation, down from about a third in the 1950s. With private-sector unions on life support, the power elite is now [More...]

DC 37 Celebrates Latino Heritage at Union Headquarters

October 5, 2016 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO District Council 37’s Latino Heritage Committee celebrated National Hispanic Heritage Month with its 24th annual event. The festivities took place at union headquarters and began on Sept. 20 with the traditional ribbon cutting ceremony. “Latinos contributing to culture in America is our theme this year,” said Carmen Flores, the committee chair, at the opening, where she was joined by Executive Director Henry Garrido. The November presidential election was the hot topic, and Garrido urged everyone to help get out the vote on Election Day and support Hillary Clinton. “The Latino community has to send a message that is loud and clear,” Garrido said. “Not getting to the polls would be a tragic mistake,” He also urged members to join DC 37 volunteers who will be heading to Philadelphia, on Oct. 22 and Nov. 5 to help get the vote out in Pennsylvania. The [More...]

Scholarship Winners are Honored at the Education Committee’s Annual Dinner

October 4, 2016 // 0 Comments

BY ALFREDO ALVARADO Mansi Moodi, Cae Lan Chow, Gabrielle Batista, Samuel Thomas and Steven Calco were recipients of college scholarships awarded by the District Council 37 Education Committee. The committee handed out the partial scholarships to the students at their Scholarship Gala on Sept. 30 at the Astoria World Manor, in Queens. Steven Calco, a student at Baruch College, and the first person in his family to attend college, received the Lillian Roberts Scholarship, named after the former DC 37 executive director and long-time union leader. “My parents are immigrants from Italy, so this really means a lot to me,” said Calco, who is interested in labor history and wants to become an archivist. Calco is a member of Local 2627. Mansi Moodi is a first year student at Rutgers University and came to the dinner with her parents. Her father, Sanjay Modi, is a member of Local 375. Sanjay [More...]

Hillary For President

October 3, 2016 // 0 Comments

By HENRY GARRIDO Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO We believe Hillary Clinton — a longtime friend of this union and the labor movement — is the best choice for workers in this year’s presidential election. Arguably the most prepared presidential candidate in modern times, she would bring a long history of supporting working family issues to the White House. She has devoted her career to public service, and we can count on her to stand up to the deep-pocketed interests that want to destroy unions, take away worker rights and privatize government services. As a U.S. senator from our state, Clinton played an important role in securing health-care funding for first responders and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. “When I’m president, working people will always have a seat at the table and a champion in the White House,” [More...]
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