Articles by Mike Lee

We Will Fight! Iowa Labor Leader Talks About the Attack on Public Workers

May 9, 2017 // 0 Comments

By MIKE LEE “You are the backbone of this union. You gotta get off your ass,” said Iowa District Council 61’s President Danny Homan, in a blunt warning to activists that they must pick up the fightback against the anti-union attack on public workers nationwide. “Struggle is not time-limited, but it is the road to resolution and victory,” said Local SSEU Local 371 President Anthony Wells, when he introduced Homan. Homan, an international vice president of DC 37’s national union and for five decades an activist and leader, delivered this stern warning before an audience of SSEU Local 371 delegates, alternates and activists at the local’s Delegate Assembly meeting at DC 37 headquarters on April 19. In an emotional, impassioned speech, Homan spoke bluntly about the brutal, draconian changes made to the long-standing collective bargaining agreement with public workers in Iowa. [More...]

When ICE Comes Knocking

May 9, 2017 // 0 Comments

Local 983’s Jose Molina turned his life around, but U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement may deport the family man for a 20-year-old conviction. By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Loud pounding at 5:30 a.m. on a cold January morning in 2013 jolted Jose Molina and his family from their sleep. Molina’s wife, Jennifer, opened the door of their Bronx apartment. In the hallway stood five armed men. Within minutes, they were knocking over furniture and spilling out dresser drawers. The commotion frightened the Molina children, then ages 11 and 9, who began to cry as the strangers confined them to their bedrooms, out of the reassuring reach of their parents. The men surrounded Jose and Jennifer in their living room. She begged for an explanation. Then the men, officers of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), handcuffed Jose and led him away as his crying family watched. Since that cold, [More...]

Unions Gather to Pay Tribute to Workers Killed on the Job

April 28, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES City unions and workplace safety advocates paid tribute to workers who died on the job during a ceremony outside DC 37 headquarters on April 28. The Workers’ Memorial Day ceremony was dedicated to Emergency Medical Technician Yadira Arroyo, a Local 2507 member who was killed in the line of duty on March 16, when a man ran her over her as he tried to hijack her ambulance. “Today and every day, let us recommit to doing all we can to honor those we have lost at work and to advocate for policies designed to protect the health and well-being of all workers,” said Vincent Alvarez, president of the New York City Central Labor Council, a sponsor of the event. “Every person who is killed on the job or dies due to workplace illness leaves family and an entire community in mourning,” said Charlene Obernauer, executive director of New York City Occupational Safety and [More...]

Contribute to the New York Daily News Fund for the Family of Yadira Arroyo

April 10, 2017 // 0 Comments

Dear Sisters and Brothers, As many of you know by now, a fund has been established by the Daily News in conjunction with the FDNY Foundation in order to aid the family of Sister Yadira Arroyo, the EMT who was recently killed in the line of duty. The fund will send the donations directly to the Arroyo family via the FDNY Foundation. AFSCME, the national union of DC 378, has contributed $10,000 to this fund and our Council will be asking to match this amount. We ask that you consider making a donation to the Arroyo family to help them through this challenging time. The following is information on how you can make your donation: Donors can send payments electronically to Daily News Charities, account number 9387-575-837, routing number 021-000-322. The charity also has a PayPal account at nydn.us/ArroyoFund. Checks can be made payable to Daily News Charities Inc. and mailed to: New York [More...]

Member Confronts Racism in Online Media

April 6, 2017 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Veteran news reporter Anita M. Samuels’ new book, “Rants & Retorts,” examines often anonymous— and always vitriolic— racist online comments posted on internet news stories. “I became a journalist because I wanted to write positive stories about African Americans,” said Samuels, a member of Civil Technical Guild Local 375 who works as an administrative coordinator at Borough of Manhattan Community College. After the historic election of Barack Obama in 2008, many were quick to say America transitioned to a post-racial society. But in “Rants & Retorts: How Bigots Got A Monopoly on Commenting About News Online,” Samuels exposes an ugly truth: Racism is festering on social media. Reading disturbing online comments on several news stories the New York Daily News had published in 2008, an upset Samuels complained to her editor. The comments [More...]

Union Member Is Vindicated in Court

March 31, 2017 // 0 Comments

After more than two painful years of facing criminal charges for doing his job, Juvenile Counselor Rafael Pasols, an SSEU Local 371 member,  was found not guilty on all charges of improperly restraining a 17-year-old resident at the Horizon Juvenile Center in the Bronx. Pasols, a Juvenile Counselor with a clean 15-year disciplinary record, was prosecuted over an incident on Nov. 8, 2014, when he restrained an out-of-control seventeen-year-old Horizon Juvenile Center resident. Just before, the resident had hit Pasols on the face with a telephone and said he was about to “snuff” [beat] him. Pasols was never disciplined by the Administration for Children’s Services. He continued to serve as a Juvenile Counselor as the case proceeded. But, on orders from the Justice Center in Albany, the Bronx prosecutor attempted to portray the restraint as an illegal chokehold. The [More...]

Coalition Demands New York’s Wealthiest Pay Their Fair Share

March 29, 2017 // 0 Comments

At a time when the state faces potential deep cuts in federal funding to vital services by the Trump administration and the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress, DC 37 joined a coalition of progressive groups in support of extending and expanding the millionaires tax on New York’s richest 1 percent. Seventeen groups issued the statement on March 29, calling on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to push the state legislature to approve the measure during the last-minute negotiations on the state budget, which by law is due by April 1: “Governor Cuomo is right that the Trump budget and a renewed effort to repeal the ACA would be a disaster for New York’s families, our communities and our state budget. But the Governor is wrong to suggest that our state can’t respond — and he’s wrong to suggest that working and middle class families should cover the cost of huge [More...]

Training Health-Care Workers in Patient and Worker Safety

March 6, 2017 // 0 Comments

By MIKE LEE Members of locals 420 and 768 work hard in providing quality care at NYC Health+Hospitals facilities. Some of the tasks involved in making patients’ lives better under their care may seem mundane to outsiders, but their work makes a huge difference in patient care. It can also injure health-care workers providing these services. DC 37 members assist in daily routines to make hospital patients’ lives better, such as moving them from their beds to a chair, or helping patients in physical therapy. While these day-to-day routines for our city hospital workers is a normal practice in health-care settings, workers face risk of bodily injury. Many of these injuries are caused by repeated pressure on the back or knees — both can lead to chronic pain and long-term physical damage. Also, there is a risk of patient injury if staff cannot prevent a fall. Work injuries can end a [More...]

Black History Month: Heartbeat of America

March 1, 2017 // 0 Comments

  Photos: Mike Lee By DIANE  S. WILLIAMS The Motown Show’s two sold-out performances on Finale Night Feb. 27 ended the union’s month-long celebration of Black History. Motown Spectacular is a musical co-written and directed by DC 37 member Yolanda Brooks-Ruiz, a Local 768 Public Health Sanitarian, and retired New York City Firefighter Juan Ruiz, who studied with renowned acting coach Lee Strasberg. Black History Committee Chair and Local 1113 President Deborah Pitts emceed the night with DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido and Local 768 President Fitz Reid. Local 768 and the DC 37 Black History Committee sponsored the event. Brooks-Ruiz’s Motown show highlights the genius of producer, songwriter and music pioneer Berry Gordy, who with writer Smokey Robinson, and later with the team of Holland-Dozier-Holland, crafted tunes and smooth stylings that leaped past longstanding [More...]

No To a Constitutional Convention

February 14, 2017 // 0 Comments

On the November 2017 ballot, New York voters will be asked to decide whether to call a convention to rewrite the New York State Constitution. The constitution mandates that this question be put to a vote every 20 years.  If the measure passes, the state must then schedule another vote in 2018 to choose delegates for the convention. This convention would open in Albany on April 2, 2019, and proposed changes to the state Constitution would likely be put before the voters in November 2019. If this sounds like a long and cumbersome process, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This is also a wasteful process that would give big business interests and anti-worker interests the opportunity to attack public services and the retirement security of the men and women who provide them. A convention would cost taxpayers more than $300 million. That is a ridiculous price to pay to give special [More...]