By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
The first training for shop stewards of Local 3005 was an intense condensed one-day session at union headquarters on Dec. 12.
“Our agenda specifically catered to what we needed our stewards to know to better service our membership,” said Local 3005 President Jeff Oshins.
“When we formed Local 3005, the leaders set the goal to establish a shop steward program and to engage members to become more active in their union,” Sessions said. “We looked for volunteers. Our search was an easy one: We had no problem as dozens of members reached out to the new leadership in response to our call to action that we put out at our first general membership meeting back in September. I am proud to say six months later we were able to get our first training off the ground.”
The one-day program gave the 10 shop stewards an overview of their responsibilities and how to service the members in the post-Janus work environment. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court voted in favor of an anti-labor lawsuit, Janus v. American Federation of Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which could weaken unions by eroding their membership and financial health.
The training included an overview from the union’s General Counsel’s Office on Article 75 and civil service law; how to know what constitutes a grievance or a gripe; the grievance process and its steps; the roles and relationships of AFSCME International, DC 37 and the local, how dues are used, and more. (Article 75 of New York City’s civil service law deals with disciplinary action.)
Local 3005 represents 1,000 scientists, construction project managers, community coordinators, graphic artists and other professionals in 19 titles at the Office of the City Medical Examiner and at the Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene.
The training session was facilitated by Hospitals and Healthcare Professionals Division Director Cynthia Keyes Padilla and Assistant Division Director Lillian Goodwine, Claire Manelas, assistant director of the Education Fund, Steven Sykes, the union’s senior general counsel, and Director of Field Operations Barbara Edmonds.
The participating shop stewards average six to 10 years as city employees at DOHMH or OCME. “Every participant is ready and willing to get more involved,” said Oshins. Many volunteer activists came to the union after successfully filing and settling a grievance.
“That firsthand experience and positive interaction with the union sparked an interest in helping other members get equity and fairness in the workplace,” Oshins said.
Samantha Rappa-Giovagnoli, the local vice president and grievance rep attended the training.
“This training is about union building, it’s about sharing experiences and helping our brothers and sisters so they can be better at their jobs,” Rappa-Giovagnoli said. “It’s about learning how I can give back and make a difference.”
The DC 37 Blog is an official online publication of District Council 37, AFSCME, which represents 121,000 municipal workers in New York City and surrounding areas.