Union’s Private Sector Locals’ Virtual Fair a Success

By MIKE LEE

Members of the union’s Non-Profit and Private Sector Division attended the Health, Housing and Resource Fair to learn more about the services DC 37 provides for members. 

The Division, formerly District Council 1707, unified with DC 37 in Sept. 2019, bringing in Locals 95, 107, 205, 215, 253, and 389, representing 20,000 home health care, day care, non-profit workers and other titles.

Despite being unable to have an in-person event due to the pandemic, key union leaders and staffers, put together a multifaceted set of speakers, presentations, and a variety of workshops to educate members on opportunities for education, health benefits, housing, and legal planning.

The first-ever Dec. 12 Virtual Fair, held in two online sessions, featured DC 37 leaders and staff. DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido welcomed those who attended. Division staffers also played a vital role in planning and participating in the event.

“You are dedicated members on the frontline, making a difference in serving the most vulnerable in our community,” said Garrido.

“We have a vision of improving healthcare delivery services, using the fact that we now have 150,000 members and close to 70,000 retirees, together with their families, to leverage our size, to be able to get and deliver better services,” Garrido said. “We also have our education department actually doing three workshops as we speak. And some of these include a DASA training for certifications for our sisters and brothers who work in childcare and other social service areas.”

After Garrido, Genevieve Marcus from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, DC 37’s national union, gave a video presentation of the variety of services offered, including scholarships and online college degrees, financial services, insurance programs, savings in health, as well as discounts on consumer products.

Maureen LaMar, Labor Studies Program Manager of the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies, discussed the programs the school provides.

After the presentation, DC 37 Political Director Jeremy John discussed the departments’ efforts in lobbying local officials and their work in local, state, and national elections.

After the initial session, members chose between several workshops. Health insurance providers held separate informational workshops geared to individual locals, while representatives from the DC 37 Affordable Housing Program discussed planning for first-time homebuyers, and the CUNY Citizenship Now Program gave advice and answered questions about pathways to citizenship.

The workshop was conducted by Eboni Mason, Manager, CUNY Citizenship NOW!, and by Local 154 President Juan Fernandez and DC 37’s Mark Heron, chair and co-chair of the DC37 Citizenship Committee.  

The DC 37 Municipal Employees Legal Services and Volunteer Legal Services Program also held a presentation on wills for essential workers, including information on end-of-life planning for frontline workers. Also, there were also workshops from the Division’s five health and welfare and pension funds.

Several local presidents also attended, including Local 253 President Caroline Washington, Local 275 Administrator John English, and Head Start Local 95 President Linda McPherson.

“What I enjoyed most was hearing the different speakers during the general session. From the introduction by our executive director Henry Garrido to the different opportunities available through AFSCME and CUNY, to how we can get involved with the political action committee,” said Danielle Gibbor, a Local 107 worker at the Union for Reform Judaism and a Shop Steward.

“The workshops were important,” said Local 95 President Linda McPherson. “Our members gained vital insights into how our union works and the variety of services they offer.”

DC 37 Director of Strategic Initiatives Barbara Edmonds had high praise for the union and division staffers who provided the technology and leadership to make the event happen.

“Under the leadership of Technology and Membership Services Director Chris Wilgenkamp, his team made this even happen smoothly,” Edmonds said. “In using virtual platforms to reach our members to educate, empower and engage them, they become knowledgeable of the health benefits, housing and other vital services they have access to during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

To find out more information about the division, visit their page on the DC 37 website. Every local has a separate website for members to get updates and other important information. To contact the Division, call 212-219-0022.

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