Articles by gheires

The Right-wing Bradley Foundation Plots to Destroy Unions

October 13, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES A right-wing network of foundations and front groups has spent decades trying to wipe out unions. One of those anti-union foundations is the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. A few years ago, the foundation helped Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker successfully attack public employees and withstand a union-led recall effort. Walker’s chief targets were the teachers union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, DC 37’s national union. Today, the “Wisconsin Model” — whose core goals are weakening collective bargaining, defunding unions, restricting workplace rights, promoting school vouchers, and backing right-to-work legislation — provides the blueprint for anti-labor and anti-government initiatives around the country. “We are up against a conservative network that is sinking millions and millions of dollars into [More...]

Union Organizes Against Constitutional Convention

October 10, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES As the Nov. 7 elections  approach, DC 37 is stepping up its work with a coalition fighting against a ballot question on whether the state should hold a constitutional convention. Established earlier this year, New Yorkers Against Corruption is spreading the word about the danger of holding a convention, which would open the door for special interests to chip away at crucial protections and rights enshrined in the state constitution. The group’s campaign includes a media outreach and door-to-door canvassing. “A lot is at risk,” said Jordan Marks, the group’s campaign manager. “Voting rights. Criminal justice. Environmental protections. Women’s health and a lot more.” Besides working with the coalition, the union is also focusing on informing members about the constitutional convention. Polls show that the convention is not on the radar screen of most [More...]

Union Activists Demand More Aid for Puerto Rico

October 5, 2017 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO Union activists from District Council 37, 32 BJ SEIU, and the Communication Workers of America joined elected officials at a rally at Foley Square in downtown Manhattan, demanding President Donald J. Trump and the federal government step up their recovery operations in Puerto Rico and cancel the island’s $72 billion debt. “We can’t afford to waste any more time,” said DC 37 and Local 1549 president Eddie Rodriguez at the lunchtime rally, across the street from Federal Plaza. “Our brothers and sisters on the island desperately need our help now.” Like many Puerto Ricans throughout the United States, Rodriguez has been unable to contact family members who live on the island. Hurricane Maria swept through Puerto Rico after Hurricane Irma and destroyed the island’s power grid. The Oct. 4 rally was organized by Vamos4PR, a coalition of union and community [More...]

Justice for Dreamers

October 4, 2017 // 0 Comments

By HENRY GARRIDO Many of us were morally outraged by President Donald J. Trump’s decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA protects undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children from deportation and allows them to work and study here. The day after Trump’s Sept. 5 announcement, I joined New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, the attorneys general of Massachusetts and Washington, young immigrants, nonprofit groups and private companies at a press conference to denounce the repeal. At the press conference, Schneiderman announced that he and eleven other state attorneys general would contest the Trump administration in court, charging that the DACA shutdown violated federal executive policy-making rules. Many immigrants understandably felt Trump’s decision to phase out DACA disrespected their community as well as [More...]

Don’t Like Your Health Plan? October is the Time to Switch

October 2, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES If you wish to change your health-care plan, now is the time to act. The city’s annual health-care “reopener” runs from Oct. 2 to Oct. 31. For city employees who change plans, coverage is effective on the date of their first paycheck in 2018. Retirees can only change their plan in even-numbered years. But they are allowed to change plans in an odd-numbered year if they exercise a one-time exception to that rule. Retiree alert! Beware of aggressive marketing During the annual open enrollment period, retirees are inundated with material from insurance companies and other groups that administer Medicare Part D, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplemental plans. Edward W. Hysyk, executive vice president of the DC 37 Retirees Association, urged retirees to sit tight and be very cautious about changing their plan. “The health-care coverage we receive from DC 37 [More...]

Delegates Elect Deborah A. Pitts as DC 37’s Secretary

September 27, 2017 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO Deborah A. Pitts, president of Finance Administrative Employees and City Investigators Local 1113, was elected on Sept. 26 to serve as secretary of the District Council 37 Executive Board. Union delegates elected Pitts at their monthly meeting. Pitts defeated Local 375 member, former 1st Vice President, and DC 37 delegate Michelle Keller-Ng. The election was held to fill the secretary’s seat on the union’s executive board, made vacant by the retirement earlier this year of Local 957 President Walthene Primus. “It is an honor to serve DC 37 and our members–that’s the most important thing for me, helping our members,” said Pitts. Pitts also serves as the chair of the DC 37 Black History Committee, which every February coordinates a month of activities for members. Pitts has spent more than 30 years as a union activist, and she has been active with the [More...]

DC 37 Gets Ready for Contract Bargaining

September 26, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES The union is preparing to start bargaining with the city for a new economic agreement this fall. Union delegates are expected to vote on demands at their monthly meeting on Sept. 26. The demands will be in part guided by an on-line survey in June of members covered by the union’s master contract. The union’s Negotiating Committee was scheduled to vote on the demands in late August. “We are hoping to enter negotiations in earnest as soon as possible,” DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido said. “We would like to see a quick settlement, but we also know the road to a new contract has historically often been a bumpy one filled with obstacles.” The 2010-17 economic agreement was originally set to expire on July 2. But earlier this year, members voted overwhelmingly to extend the economic agreement to Sept. 25 to help the union’s welfare plan shore up its [More...]

The Equifax Data Breach: What Consumers Should Do

September 22, 2017 // 0 Comments

By ROBERT MARTIN and RENEE CONDE The dust is still settling on the Equifax data breach in which hackers accessed personal records of the majority of American adults. This breach was so huge that you should presume your information has been compromised. Equifax (a big three credit reporting agency or “CRA”) has only come forward now to reveal that between May and July, records of 143 million persons were hacked. What makes it more serious than prior breaches (Equifax itself has had four breaches in the last two years) is that the stolen records include not just credit card numbers, but also Social Security numbers and birth dates. These are the first building blocks for identity thieves. With this information, thieves can potentially open fraudulent new credit accounts – in our names. How should people protect themselves? This is a slightly complicated topic, and the answer depends [More...]

DC 37 Prepares for U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Against Public Employee Unions UPDATE: Court Will Hear Case

September 20, 2017 // 1 Comment

By MIKE LEE On Sept. 28, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to move forward on perhaps the most important case facing the labor movement in our lifetime. This case, Janus v. AFSCME, is expected to be heard during the court’s upcoming October term with a decision no later than next June. Janus is the latest attempt by anti-union forces to take away public workers’ hard-won freedoms to organize, negotiate for fair pay and working conditions, as well as to strip them of their benefits. Janus seeks to overturn the ability of unions to collect fees from agency fee payers, who enjoy the benefits of union representation without membership. A ruling may force public service workers’ unions into such a right-to-work environment. For the rich and powerful 1 percenters and corporate CEOs, a legal victory in Janus will hurt a union’s ability to fight on behalf of workers by allowing agency [More...]

A Fair Tax on the Wealthy

September 14, 2017 // 0 Comments

By HENRY GARRIDO Our city is engaged in a vibrant public discussion about the crisis at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. For the general public, the injury of dozens of people in the derailment of a subway in Manhattan in July underscored that the crisis is a matter of public safety. Riders are also fed up with high fares and delays. The MTA’s track signals date from a century ago, when the subway system was established, and the constant malfunctioning from this aging equipment causes delays. Straphangers are angry about the uncomfortable commutes in overcrowded subway trains and the crumbling infrastructure, including deteriorating stations. Elected officials and public transportation advocates are looking for solutions. We fully support a progressive plan that Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled in August. The de Blasio plan offers a sensible way to deal with short- and [More...]