Articles by gheires

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Worker Wins Wage Hike and Back Pay

August 14, 2019 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS After eight months of labor-management meetings, DC 37 Local 374 has won a wage hike that adds about $1,400 to the annual salary of a Brooklyn Botanic Garden employee. “I love this job and everyone who knows me knows that I love what I do,” said Claudia Navas, a Clerical 4 project coordinator who spreads the message that composting is good for the environment, leads workshops and offers technical advice. A team player, Navas shoulders extra responsibilities to help out when Brooklyn Botanic Garden is short-staffed. But when she asked to be compensated for her hard work, she unearthed a problem only her union could resolve. “I was surprised to learn that although I am the most senior employee, as a Clerical 4, I earned $1,285 less than my colleagues, who are all senior museum instructors. So I called my union,” Navas said. White Collar Division Council Rep [More...]

Contract Fight of Westchester County Day-Care Workers Heats Up

August 12, 2019 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES About 40 day-care center workers in Westchester County staged a one-day strike on Thursday, protesting years of frozen pay and their employer’s most recent outrage, a failure to repair a summertime breakdown of the air conditioning system. “Enough is enough,” said Kim Medina, deputy administrator of District Council 1707, which represents day-care workers Local 205 and will unify with District Council 37 in September. “Because of management’s failure to negotiate seriously, our members are struggling to meet their daily expenses,” Medina, who will become the special assistant to the executive director for the new Non-Profit and Private Sector Division of District Council when the unification of the two councils occurs. “The agency’s failure to address the scorching working conditions is only the latest abuse.” The parents of infants and toddlers [More...]

Education is Power

August 10, 2019 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES For three decades, Sherif Fawzy devoted himself to his job at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, but didn’t take any particular interest in the union. He was okay with paying his dues, recognizing that the union fulfilled its responsibility to negotiate periodic wage increases and protect his rich packet of benefits. But he felt no need to get involved. His outlook changed a few years ago after DC 37 successfully defend him against unfounded disciplinary charges by managers. That’s also when he decided to educate himself about labor law and his contract. One day, while checking out the union’s website, he learned he was entitled to take courses for free at the City University of New York. And so he enrolled. Fawzy, an engineer who works in the Dept. of Subway Car Equipment at the MTA, is one of the nearly 30 DC 37 members in the first graduating class [More...]

Day-Care Educators Win Pay Equity with City Teachers

August 6, 2019 // 0 Comments

  By GREGORY N. HEIRES By more than a 3-to-1 margin, members of Local 205 — early childhood educators who work for non-profit organizations — voted for a contract extension that puts them on a path to wage parity with their counterparts at the New York City Dept. of Education. The contract extension covers more than 4,000 members of the local and is the first demonstration of how the recently-announced unification of District Council 1707 and District Council 37 can increase the bargaining and political power of New York City public and private sector workers. “This is an historic achievement — after decades of hard work, early childhood educators are being recognized as true professionals,” noted Kim Medina, the executive director of DC 1707 who now becomes special assistant to the executive director for the new Non-Profit and Private Sector Division of District Council [More...]

David Paskin, Union’s Long-Time Negotiator, Retires

June 30, 2019 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES David Paskin, the union’s director of research and negotiations, has retired after working as a negotiator at DC 37 for 32 years. Paskin received a warm sendoff at union headquarters on June 17. Speakers praised Paskin for his honesty at the bargaining table and profound commitment to the fight for the dignity of workers. DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido appointed Paskin to head the department after the passing of Paskin’s predecessor Evelyn Seinfeld in 2016. Garrido said Paskin “stepped up like the hero he is” to help preserve the union’s bargaining strength. Over the past four years, Garrido and Paskin teamed up to usher the union through a deal for a new 44-month master contract with no givebacks, a multi-billion dollar agreement with the city that preserves the premium-free health-care of members, and a breakthrough of a seven-year logjam in an [More...]

CUNY Labor School Advances Worker Careers and Solidarity

June 25, 2019 // 2 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES  Where else but in New York City could you expect a college graduation ceremony to open with the singing of the historic labor song “Solidarity Forever,” along with the country’s national anthem? That occurred at the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies, which recently celebrated the graduation of the new public university’s first graduating class. Nearly 30 DC 37 members were among the proud graduates. “Our mission is directed toward the public good and social justice,” Gregory Mantsios, the founding dean, said at the opening of the ceremony. The university aims to serve as an incubator of labor ideals, a vehicle for career advancement and advocate for the labor movement and greater community.” Nicholas Pineda, a Data Processing Employees Local 2627 member, was the undergraduate student speaker at the June 14 ceremony. “Fellow graduates, we are [More...]

Union-backed Bill Aims to Speed Up Approval of 9/11 Pension Disability Claims

June 21, 2019 // 0 Comments

By RUDY OROZCO The state Legislature on Tuesday approved union-backed legislation that seeks to speed up the approval of disability pension applications of 9/11 rescue and recovery workers. The bill, sponsored by Assembly member Stacey Pheffer Amato and state Sen. Andrew Gounardes, would increase the number of physicians who review the applications for the York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS). “Today our heroic 9/11 rescue and recovery workers breathe a sigh of relief because of this important step taken by the state Legislature,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido, shortly after legislators voted on the bill. “The increase in the number of physicians will help end the long waiting periods that these workers had to endure while their cases were under review.” Oren Barzilay, president of Uniformed EMT’s, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors Local 2507, [More...]

Unions Support Legislation to Curb Excessive ER Charges

June 7, 2019 // 0 Comments

By RUDY OROZCO DC 37 has joined the four of the state’s largest unions to call for legislation that seeks to protect patients from excessive hospital emergency room charges. DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido, 32BJ SEIU President Héctor Figueroa, United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew and Civil Service Employees Association President Danny Donohue backed the legislation in a joint letter they sent to state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and other legislators on June 3. The union leaders are pushing for the passage of NY S3171 (19R) / NY A264 (19R), which would protect patients from exorbitant costs for out-of-network emergency care, an issue they said “threatens to bankrupt working families.” They said the bills — which have yet to make it to the floor in either chamber — could also help members fight for [More...]

Local 1549 Conference: A Call to Action

January 31, 2019 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES About 200 shop stewards, activists and union leaders attended Local 1549’s annual conference on advocacy and political action on Jan. 26. Each year, the local holds the conference reviews its political and legislative priorities. Its purpose is to educate shop stewards and chapter chairs about key and critical issues, giving them background information to share with their coworkers. But beyond spelling out the local’s agenda, the conference serves as a call to action. Local leaders and panelists reinforce to conferees the importance of getting involved in politics and community issues—in addition to being the voice of the union in their workplaces. “We have to protect each other,” said Local 1549 President Eddie Rodriguez. Local 1549’s 2019 agenda includes: The 911 surcharge. Winning back jobs taken over by the state to the Human Resources [More...]

Take an Opportunity to Return to School

January 29, 2019 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Interested in going back to school? At a series of one-on-one meetings at the union—“CUNY Days at DC 37”—you will have an opportunity to discuss how you can complete your degree and take advantage of other educational options. The District Council 37 Education Fund is working with the Murphy Institute (the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies) in a new collaboration to help members return to school and advance in their career. This program will help you: Learn about the academic requirements for specific jobs; Choose a CUNY campus and major; Apply to and finance college; Become informed about continuing education and certification options; Long term career development; Find out about the fastest-growing industries in New York City; …and more. Over three months, the program is going to hold free 30-minute individual sessions for members to discuss their [More...]