By MIKE LEE
Hundreds of enthusiastic and committed SSEU Local 371 delegates packed DC 37 union headquarters for two consecutive Saturday training sessions as part of the local’s effort to better serve its members.
Braving heavy rains, hundreds showed up at the events as local delegates gathered for a series of workshops and training sessions to help bolster the union’s campaign.
The poor weather of the first session and the early morning hours of the second did not dampen the participation, said Armenta Weekes, the local’s vice president for organization, who along with others planned the successful trainings on Oct. 27 and Nov. 3.
“Our attendance is always good. Despite the inclement weather — two weeks in a row — delegates are coming out,” she said.
“The purpose of this training is to give our delegates the means to educate, energize and inform,” said SSEU Local 371 President Anthony Wells.
“This is to give them the skills to be good representatives in the field,” Wells said.
These trainings were key in keeping members and delegates informed of the U.S. Supreme Court anti-union Janus v. AFSCME case from the beginning.
Also, the local worked intensely with delegates on honing their organizing skills, while also getting members more involved in the union. This was reflected in the first Saturday session, in AFSCME-led after workshops providing skills on organizing in the post-Janus era.
Workshops covered such topics as negotiations and research and how to conduct labor-management meetings. There were also workshops on filing grievances and successfully navigating the grievance process with members.
The local provided the delegates with extensive training materials covering important subjects, including payroll basics, the structure of the union, ethics and the union’s rights under the Taylor Law.
Delegate Hisham Omar Quhshi, a Hospital Care Investigator at Elmhurst Hospital, discussed what he learned at the trainings. “At work, I get questions about contracts.
“At these trainings I learn the difference between grievances and gripes, how to follow a grievance, staying engaged and communicating with members and informing them on what the union can do to help them.”
“This keeps us moving forward in giving members a strong and safe workplace,” Quhshi said. “Our job is to disseminate information, have answers for members and know how to take action whenever management is doing the wrong thing,” he said.
The DC 37 Blog is an official online publication of District Council 37, AFSCME, which represents 121,000 municipal employees in the New York City area. This article originally appeared in the November-December 2018 issue of Public Employee Press.