Articles by gheires

Union Organizing: a Civil Right

March 23, 2018 // 0 Comments

Now that the arguments were made — on both sides — in the Janus v. AFSCME case heard before the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 26, the waiting game for the ruling by the court begins. However, we want to make clear that our rights shall not be dictated by a majority of nine in a single legal case. Importantly, our right to organize, collectively bargain with our employers, and stand together as a solid bloc, is a civil right, one that cannot be denied or taken from us. A quote from the American Civil Liberties Union’s on its own stand on collective bargaining says it best: “Unions facilitate and enhance the ability of their members to exercise core civil liberties, such as the First Amendment rights of association, speech and petition.” The U.S. Constitution protects the right to association for individuals with common interests to unite and form organizations to fight — and [More...]

Brooklyn Museum Agrees to Drop Its Plan to Seek Concessions from Workers

March 22, 2018 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES After intense pressure from the union, the Brooklyn Museum agreed to end a two-year effort to win concessions from its unionized staff. The agreement includes a one-time bonus for workers at 25 years of service and a no-layoff clause. The museum pledged not to carry out job cuts until the end of the year or when concluding talks on a new collective bargaining pact — whichever is earlier. “I am happy we managed to stop the talk of layoffs and the museum’s use of part-timers,” said Wilson Souffrant, president of Brooklyn Museum Local 1502. “But this is only the beginning as we move ahead to bargaining on our contract.” In 2016, during tense discussions with the museum about what it described as a budget crisis, Local 1502 agreed to a one-week unpaid furlough for its members, as well as two buyouts. Then in May 2017 the museum asked for more. But members [More...]

Members Celebrate Irish Heritage

March 15, 2018 // 0 Comments

By MIKE LEE On a rainy Friday night, a crowd of hardy souls braved the first of the two Nor’easters that had struck New York City to celebrate the courage and determination of Irish Americans at the 26th annual Irish Heritage Celebration, held at union headquarters on March 2. DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido took note of the contributions of Irish workers to the labor movement in the United States. “Each ethnic group that immigrates to America faces its own challenges and harsh realities,”Garrido said. “The resilient Irish people were no exception.” “The Irish contribution to unions is profound. And tonight we celebrate that contribution and the success of a people that is richly deserved.” As the storm raged outside, the members and guests at the gathering were treated with fine food and inspiring words from FDNY Chaplin Father Chris Keenan, a member of Local 299. [More...]

The Motown Story

March 13, 2018 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS The history of Motown is an American success story, a musical trajectory of glammed-up girl groups, silky harmonies and smooth dance moves crafted in Detroit at a tiny music studio called Hitsville, USA. The music captured the hearts of America’s youth at a time of unparalleled social upheaval. “The Motown Story,” a play written, directed and acted by union members, plots the record label’s course in a return finale production Feb. 28 to close DC 37’s Black History Month celebration. “These songs are the soundtrack of our lives,” said Associate Director Oliver Gray. “They tell our stories and are such a huge part of our lives.” Motown’s chart-topping tunes of first loves and loves lost gave solace to a nation grappling with civil rights, equality, and the Vietnam War. “The beauty of Motown,” Gray added, “is the music broke down barriers and [More...]

The Year of the Woman!

March 9, 2018 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Labor kicked off Women’s History Month with a spirited forum urging women to resist, insist and persist in following their passion and achieving visibility and inclusion. “The energy in this room is amazing and what is about to happen will be magical. This is the Year of the Woman!” said Lelani Levin of SSEU Local 371, who co-chairs the Women’s Committee with Carmen Charles, president of Local 420. The diverse and outspoken panel included leaders from various fields: AFSCME Secretary Treasurer Elissa McBride, the Honorable Lisa Ottley, Dr. Una Clarke, City Council member Adrienne Adams, Dr. Sophia Lubin, Judaline Cassidy and Gessie Thompson. Jahmila Joseph, the union’s assistant associate director, enjoyed an “Oprah moment” as moderator of the discussion. “If you want something, go after it, if it’s not there make it yourself,” said Cassidy, a [More...]

Among the Richest Nations, the United States is One of the Poorest

February 22, 2018 // 0 Comments

By DAVID BRAND Poor Americans are getting sicker, dying younger, and even living on the streets more often as extreme poverty threatens the lives of millions in the world’s wealthiest country. Now the United Nations is taking action. Last year, the UN sent a team led by Philip Alston, a human rights expert and law professor at New York University, to investigate poverty in California, West Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. “Despite great wealth in the U.S., there also exists great poverty and inequality,” Alston said in a statement. “The idea of human rights is that people have basic dignities [and] that is the role of the government to ensure that no one falls below a decent level.” The UN has identified the U.S. as having the second-highest rate of poverty among a group of the world’s richest countries. According to the U.S. [More...]

Local 1549 Members are Ready to Repel a Right-wing Effort to Kill Off Public Employee Unions

February 14, 2018 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Local 1549 members met to prepare a fight back against the efforts of right-wing groups to destroy public service unions and dismantle government services. During the conference held on Feb. 3, union leaders briefed members about the U.S. Supreme Court case, Janus v. AFSCME. This case threatens to financially starve public sector unions by allowing workers who are not members to receive services for free. “We face perhaps the greatest attack in the history of unions,” Local 1549 Executive Vice President Alma Roper said. “We need to stand up and be strong.” Ralph Palladino, the local’s 2nd vice president, spoke of the threat posed by the right-wing network and the efforts of the Trump administration and the Republican-dominated U.S. Congress to deeply scale back funding for Medicaid and other services. After passing a new tax law that provides major cuts [More...]

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: A Labor Leader

February 12, 2018 // 0 Comments

By LEE SAUNDERS The photograph is iconic. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., only 39 years old but the nation’s most prominent civil rights leader, lay fatally wounded on a motel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee. His lieutenants stood over his body, pointing frantically across the parking lot in the direction of the shooter. Dr. King was in Memphis to support the city’s sanitation workers — members of the union I’m proud to serve as president, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — who were striking in protest of poverty wages and dangerous, degrading working conditions. Their fight for dignity and respect was expressed with a simple, compelling slogan: “I Am a Man.” In his final campaign and throughout his life as an activist, Dr. King highlighted the struggle of all working people to get a fair shake. He’s best known, of course, for his civil [More...]

Building Political Power

February 9, 2018 // 0 Comments

By HENRY GARRIDO President Donald J. Trump’s tax plan is a dagger aimed at the heart of New York and at working families across the country. Make no mistake, this is also an attack on public employees and the services they provide. By increasing the deficit by more than $1 trillion, the plan is allowing Republicans to argue that the federal government needs to impose deep cuts to programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. These reactionary politicians in Washington, D.C. are dead-set on shredding the country’s safety net. They see this plan as the culmination of a decades-long project to roll back these services. The threat is immediate — and local. For example, here in our city, our public hospitals, already facing deep reductions in federal funding, anticipate additional cuts. Our retirement security is at risk as Republicans target Social Security and Medicare for [More...]

DC 37 Launches Black History Month Celebration

February 5, 2018 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS The union kicked off its annual Black History Month celebration on Feb. 1, with a ribbon-cutting and opening night dedicated to the theme of the African-American Experience in the Labor Movement. The union and the BHM committee along with co-sponsor Local 372 celebrated former Executive Director Lillian Roberts’ 90th birthday with special guests former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, AFSCME President Lee Saunders, New York state AFL-CIO leader Terry Melvin, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., U.S. Congress Member Yvette Clarke, New York state Assembly member Walter Mosley, City Council members Adrienne Adams, Inez Barron, Carlina Rivera, Andy King, Mark Treyger, Jumaane Willams, Debi Rose, Laurie Cumbo, Daneek Miller, Alicka Ampry-Samuel, along with [More...]