By ALFREDO ALVARADO
There was standing room only as more than 300 union members jammed the conference room at the offices of the Human Resources Administration in Brooklyn for a town hall style meeting.
Members came to hear DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido talk about the fight with the city for a new contract and the upcoming decision in the Janus v. AFSCME case before the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to make its ruling by the end of June.
If the decision goes against AFSCME, it could cripple DC 37 and public employee unions throughout the country. Janus argues that the mandatory collection of union dues violates the individual’s constitutional right to freedom of speech.
“This decision is the start of a bigger attack,” said Garrido. He pointed to Wisconsin and how workers there lost their collective bargaining power once it became a right-to-work state.
“They’re paying as much as $10,000 out of pocket for health care annually and don’t have the right to collective bargaining,” Garrido said at the Brooklyn meeting.
Garrido also gave an update on contract negotiations with the city. “We need a raise and we need it now,” he said, as the room erupted in applause. “We want respect and that respect comes at the bargaining table.”
At the negotiation table with the city, the union is also raising the issue of paid family leave. “City workers deserve paid family leave,” Garrido added.
Volunteer Member Organizers were also at the meeting and they passed out dozens of union cards and made sure they were filled out correctly.
“I might have already signed a union card, but I want to make sure so I’ll fill out another one,” said Local 1549 member Gwendolyn Willis. “I’m with my union 100 percent.”
The meeting on May 2 kicked off a campaign to reach out to members before the Supreme Court decision.
In addition to the meeting at HRA in Brooklyn, DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido will met with members and answered questions at the Queens Medical Center in Jamaica on May 17.
The union held other meetings at Staten Island College, the Dept. of Education in Long Island City, and Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx. Garrido and union activists will return to Brooklyn for another meeting on Wednesday, June 6, at Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St. Meetings are held at noon and 1 p.m. For additional information and a list of the meetings go to the union’s website at www.dc37.net.
The DC 37 Blog is an official online publication of District Council 37, AFSCME, which represents 120,000 municipal employees in New York City.