Articles by Mike Lee

Housing Program Marks 13th Year

August 7, 2018 // 0 Comments

BY DIANE S. WILLIAMS Flooding downpours did not stop members from attending the annual August housing fair at the union hall, where many met real estate professionals who offer mortgages, inspections, credit counseling, and other housing-related services. “I came because I’m looking to purchase my first home,” said SSEU Local 371 member Shermaine Taylor. “I got lots of great information on grants and mortgages and even student loan forgiveness. Everything I learned at the union I’m sharing with my coworkers.” “Thirteen years ago, under the leadership of Lillian Roberts, I was tasked to put together a housing program for members,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido. At the time more than 300 DC 37 families were living in homeless shelters. The city’s affordable housing stock dwindled as the Bloomberg administration ushered in a luxury housing construction boom. [More...]

Rising Up: First-Time Convention Delegates Speak Out

July 22, 2018 // 0 Comments

More than 1,000 of the delegates to the 43rd AFSCME Convention in Boston last week were attending for the very first time. DC 37’s delegation included four new local unions and dozens of first-time delegates, including a new local president. This new generation of union activists is among the thousands of AFSCME members who have pledged to #RiseUp for working families and public services. Andrew Barfield—Local 1321 What I like about the convention is that you get to meet people from different parts of the country who share the same goals of trying to bring equality to the workplace. I think this is positive and inspiring. It’s really opened up my eyes to what the national level is doing, because I never knew anything about it. I didn’t know that everybody comes together in this capacity and all the issues they’re addressing. It’s not just what’s going on [More...]

AFSCME Members #RiseUp at 43rd Convention in Boston

July 18, 2018 // 0 Comments

By MIKE LEE AFSCME members are heeding the call to #RiseUp this week at the 43rd International Convention of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in Boston. AFSCME, DC 37’s national union, now stands at the forefront of labor’s resistance as public workers nationwide are standing together, pushing back against anti-union forces after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME in June. In his keynote address to the convention, AFSCME President Lee Saunders told the delegates and guests that while the legal setback in Janus presents serious challenges, the union is well prepared to overcome the onslaught. “If they think we’re going to roll over, if they think this is going to slow us down or shut us up, if they think we’re going to let five unelected men in robes steal our freedom, they’ve got a big surprise coming. Because when the stakes [More...]

Saving Our Public Housing

July 13, 2018 // 0 Comments

City and federal investigators raided the warehouse of the New York City Housing Authority on June 13, responding to a complaint filed against the agency for failing to address deteriorating conditions in 178,000 apartments. Since the resignation of former NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye in April, the media has been churning out stories exposing the depth of corruption and mismanagement at the agency. A city investigation discovered that the agency filed false certifications to the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development that apartments were annually inspected for lead paint from 2013 to 2016. The city probe followed an exhaustive federal government investigation into NYCHA beginning in 2015 that uncovered dangerous lead exposure effecting hundreds of residents and children, a cover up of health violations in NYCHA projects, mold overgrowth, pest infestation, broken elevators and inadequate [More...]

Trump and Labor: A Betrayal

July 12, 2018 // 0 Comments

Donald Trump won the presidency portraying himself as a champion of workers. So far, his record as president amounts to a great betrayal. With executive orders, political appointments and policy changes, Trump has actually proved himself to be an enemy of working families. The authoritarian president has taken steps to undermine unions, harm public employees, gut the benefits of low-wage workers and promote trade policies that will raise prices for consumers. Simply put, his actions favor corporations and the rich. Real average earnings have actually dropped since Trump signed the GOP tax giveaway into law. The only way workers have managed to increase their take-home pay is by working a few extra hours per week, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The administration submitted an amicus brief in Janus v. AFSCME case, which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on last month. [More...]

A Culture of Organizing

July 11, 2018 // 0 Comments

By BARBARA TERRELONGE For decades, our union has largely focused on providing services to members. But in recent years we learned we must do more. As we faced institutional malaise and a multi-million dollar, anti-union campaign by a national right-wing network intensified we decided to shift our focus toward what’s known as an organizing model of unionism. Through worksite visits and improved communications, we highlight the value of unions, while urging members to become more involved. At our three-year-old Organizing Dept., we aim to “engage, educate, empower.” Those three words sum up our union’s philosophy. About two years ago, the dozens of reps who work for DC 37 embarked on an ambitious plan. The union dispatched the union employees to the city’s five boroughs to conduct one-on-one meetings with 50,000 members and to sign up thousands of agency-fee payers, workers who [More...]

Vote “Yes” on the Contract

July 10, 2018 // 0 Comments

By HENRY GARRIDO Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO After a marathon negotiating session in late June, we concluded talks with the city on a new economic agreement, which provides for fair wage increases worth more than 7 percent and a new paid parental leave benefit. The contract provides for a retroactive 2 percent raise on Sept. 26, 2017, a 2.25 percent increase on Sept. 26, 2018, and an additional 3 percent on Oct. 26, 2019. The contract’s term is from Sept. 26, 2017, to May 26, 2021. I want to let you know how we approached this round of negotiations differently from previous contract talks. We managed to negotiate the contract in less than a year, faster than in earlier negotiations. We won decent and fair salary increases, and yes, we believe the increases will keep up with the cost of living. But the key accomplishments are not merely these raises. We [More...]

New Contracts at Queens Library and Brooklyn Academy of Music

July 9, 2018 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Two DC 37 locals recently concluded negotiations, resulting in significant improvements in their contracts. These include gains in compensation and workplace protections. Brooklyn Academy of Music Local 1502 members approved a seven-year contract that provides security guards with a $2,000 yearly salary increase. The contract boosts the differential — extra pay — of guards who get their fire safety director certification from $3,000 to $4,000. Workers certified after the contract ratification will receive a one-time cash bonus of $2,000. The term of the contract is from July 1, 2003, to June 30, 2020 and includes a new $500 longevity payment when workers reach their fifth anniversary date. At 10 years, workers will receive a one-time $1,000 payment. Upon retirement, members will receive the cash value of one-third of their accumulated sick time, in addition to [More...]

DC 37 backs Letitia James for New York State Attorney General

July 6, 2018 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, who recently launched her campaign for New York state Attorney General, laid out her platform before a crowd of enthusiastic supporters in lower Manhattan. Surrounded by union activists from DC 37, Transit Workers Local 100, Communications Workers of America Local 1180 and several other unions, James promised to fight against corporate greed and to protect workers if she’s elected to the office this November. “In the wake of recent destructive decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court, New York must fight harder than ever to protect the rights of our workers,” said James, during a press conference on July 6 at the Municipal Building. “I will use every tool at my disposal to ensure that justice applies equally to every hardworking New Yorker.” James announced that she will create an arbitration review team to address [More...]

Nigerian Labor Activists Visit DC 37

July 3, 2018 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO A delegation of labor activists representing Nigerian public and private unions arrived at DC 37 to share and exchange ideas in a time of a changing environment for labor worldwide. “It’s an honor to be able to get to know these Nigerian union leaders from their country’s public sector,” said Fitz Reid, president of Local 768. Reid was able to sit down and talk with the activists during their visit to DC 37 on June 28. DC 37 and Local 1549 President Eddie Rodriguez was also part of the union’s welcoming committee. Among the group of 11 activists were Alade Bashir Lawal, secretary general of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria and Bobboi Bala Kaigama, president-general of Nigeria’s Trade Union Congress. The visit of the Nigerian delegation to the United States was coordinated by Prof. Mike Merrill of the Rutgers Labor Education Center. The [More...]