Articles by Mike Lee

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...]

DC 37’s Black History Month Calendar for 2017

January 30, 2017 // 0 Comments

The DC 37 Black History Committee and Local 1113 are hosting the annual Black Heritage Month celebration at union headquarters with guest speakers and entertainment honoring the culture and contributions of African Americans. Opening night is Wednesday, Feb. 1, with a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony and more. The locals listed below will host events throughout the month. On Finale Night, Monday, Feb. 27, the DC 37 Black History Committee presents The Motown Show, a play written by Local 768 member Yolanda Brooks about Berry Gordy’s legendary Motown. Motown became the heartbeat of America, and the show features impersonators of the legendary Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Eddie Kendricks, Mary Wells, Stevie Wonder, “King of Pop” Michael Jackson and TV hosts Ed Sullivan, Johnny Carson and Don Cornelius and the Soul Train Gang. The Motown sound united a [More...]

Get Covered! Open Enrollment for the Affordable Care Act Ends on Jan. 31

January 30, 2017 // 0 Comments

There are only two days left before the end of  enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, so the Mayor’s GetCoveredNYC team wants to make sure you know how you can Get Covered. If you’re no longer covered by your parents or employers insurance, this may be your last chance to enroll for 2017. Here are locations with extended hours with free in-person assistance. If you don’t see a location near you, call 311. Many New Yorkers may still qualify for low- or no-cost insurance all year round. To find free in-person assistance near you, so things like your doctor visits and prescription drugs are covered, call 311 or text CoveredNYC to 877877. You can also enroll online at [More...]

DC 37 Celebrates Chanukah at Union Headquarters

December 30, 2016 // 0 Comments

DC 37’s annual celebration of Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, drew dozens of members and retirees to the union hall Dec. 27. “The Maccabees fought their oppressors and won,” said Jewish Heritage Committee chair Dr. Lenny Davidman, president of NYC Psychologists Local 1189. “There is a lesson for labor: fight back and bring light to darkness.” “We think of the miracle of Chanukah some 2,000 years ago and it reminds us to stay united,” said DC 37 Associate Director Oliver Gray. “Over the next four years we will need to fight harder than ever, determined to move labor’s causes forward.” “Chanukah’s dreidel game has a message of hope– when negative forces seem overwhelming, one spin can bring change and keep us going,” said Rabbi Alvin Kass, as he lit the menorah. The New York Police Dept. recently honored Kass, a member of Local 299, for 50 years of [More...]

The Soul of the NYPD: A Rabbi for the Ages

December 19, 2016 // 0 Comments

This piece originally appeared as an editorial in the New York Daily News on Dec. 18.  Rabbi Kass is a member of  DC  37 who has served on the DC 37 Jewish Heritage Committee for many years. Marvel at the collective fortitude and bravery of the NYPD — and then thank a moral force behind the force, slight as ever in his brass-buttoned uniform. For 50 years, Rabbi Dr. Alvin Kass has served as an NYPD chaplain, and is today chief chaplain, leading an interfaith nine-clergy squad that provides constant support and succor to officers assigned to confront the very worst of humanity one day and show up again for work the next. In a ceremony on Friday before the entirety of NYPD officialdom, Commissioner Jimmy O’Neill promoted Kass with an unprecedented-for-a-chaplain third star in recognition of his half-century of service ministering, as all police chaplains do, to officers of all [More...]

MELS: A Pioneering Union Law Firm

October 18, 2016 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO Sept. 15 marked the 39th anniversary of the Municipal Employees Legal Services, one of District Council 37’s most successful programs. Established in 1977, MELS is one of the few pre-paid legal services offered to union members in the country. “When DC 37 started, I thought more unions would follow suit,” said MELS Chief Counsel and Director Joan Beranbaum, who was one of the first attorneys hired by MELS. “But that hasn’t been the case.” After starting as a pilot program, MELS is still going strong, offering eligible union members free legal services to assist them in a variety of issues from help with filing for a divorce, writing a will and becoming a citizen. The plan does not handle criminal cases. Members who are going up against an unscrupulous landlord can get assistance and be represented by a MELS attorney in Housing Court. Buying a home for [More...]

Building Labor’s Fortress

October 7, 2016 // 0 Comments

While union membership declined nationwide in the last 15 years, New York City has seen a growth of organized workers that is already showing a positive impact on city and state politics. This resurgence of city unions is discussed in the annual report, “State of the Unions: 2016,” published by the Murphy Institute at the City University of New York. In their research, the authors of the annual report, Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce, found that the organized workforce in New York City has increased significantly, from 21.5 percent to 25.5 percent since 2012. The authors attribute the growth to the recovery of construction and hospitality industries that took a direct hit in the economic crisis 0f 2008. But there are also several other factors that have bolstered union power in the city. A major contribution has been the Fight for $15 movement, which DC 37 has been a part of since [More...]

Unions Benefit All Workers

October 6, 2016 // 0 Comments

Discussions about wage stagnation typically focus on the impact of globalization, labor-saving technology and the drop in the minimum wage. Unions are usually left out of the picture. This is odd, because the decline of unions has a lot to do with the wage stagnation of private-sector workers over the past 35 years. It follows that an improvement of working families must be accompanied by a resurgence of the labor movement. During the post-World War II era, wages of American workers increased steadily as union membership grew. But over the last three-and-a-half decades, non-union workers in the private sector have seen their pay stagnate as the private-sector workforce represented by unions has dwindled. Today, only 7 percent of private-sector workers enjoy union representation, down from about a third in the 1950s. With private-sector unions on life support, the power elite is now [More...]