Articles by Mike Lee

Union Honors EMS Week

May 22, 2018 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO Thousands of emergency medical technicians around the country will be honored during National EMS Week for the critical work they do saving lives. The week of activities for the annual event begins May 20 -26. In New York City EMT Yadira Arroyo was one of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arroyo, a member of Uniformed EMTs and Paramedics of the FDNY Local 2507, was run over last year with her own ambulance by a deranged man. EMT Kellan Squire works at Station 17 in the Bronx and occasionally shared a tour with Arroyo. “We were in shock when we heard the news,” said Squire. “She was well respected by her colleagues and the people in her community.” EMT Squire began his career in Miami before moving to New York City. “You can’t compare the number of calls you get in Miami to New York,” said the Florida native. Squire is part of the Counter Terrorism [More...]

Please Attend DC 37 Town Halls Scheduled for May

April 19, 2018 // 0 Comments

By MIKE LEE The union is under attack. Our collective future is at stake. As the nation waits for the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on Janus v. AFSCME District Council 31, DC 37 and you — the members — have many questions about the future of your union after the ruling by the court, which could go against us. The Janus case aims to undercut unions by reducing the vital funds used to negotiate with management for raises and benefits, handle grievances and fight for workplace rights. In reality, Janus is a carefully crafted assault on our freedoms to organize and to bargain fairly with our employers for wages and benefits. But DC 37 is fighting back. We are educating and organizing, explaining our future, and answering your questions as the clock ticks down to the court’s decision. Please attend a DC 37 Town Hall Please join DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido and local [More...]

Cuomo Signs Legislation Strengthening Workers’ Rights

April 13, 2018 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Governor Andrew M. Cuomo yesterday signed landmark legislation to strengthen the rights of working men and women in New York state. This new law increases access to and protects union membership in New York’s public-sector workplaces in anticipation of an adverse ruling in the pending Supreme Court case Janus v. AFSCME. Additionally, the law provides safeguards against the deliberate actions taken by the federal government that continue to undermine the efforts of organized labor across this country. Cuomo described the new law as a response to a long-term campaign by the extreme right to destroy unions. “Too often, and at the hands of this federal administration, we are seeing the labor movement going backwards. In New York it is a different story, and our efforts to protect working men and women are moving labor forward, making the workplace fairer and [More...]

Members Lead Cleanup After Four Nor’easters Hit NYC

April 12, 2018 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Thunder snow, bomb cyclones and blizzards — three massive snowstorms struck New York and the eastern seaboard within a 10-day span, and a fourth storm struck during the month of March. DC 37 members in several locals responded with Climbers and Pruners of Local 1506 and their Parks Supervisors in Local 1508 leading the city’s emergency cleanup. The Nor’easters dumped heavy snow mixed with thunder and lighting, rain, and slush with powerful 40- to 90-mile-per-hour winds that nearly paralyzed a half dozen states. The city is seeing an uptick in widespread, severe storms that are attributed to climate change. Riley, the first Nor’easter, pulled down older trees — and powerlines — in Southeast Queens. The Dept. of Parks and Recreation disbursed its tree-cutting Delta Force of Climbers and Pruners in a race against time to remove fallen trees and debris [More...]

Union Action: PEOPLE Power

April 11, 2018 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Our political system is dominated by corporations, lobbyists and wealthy individuals. As the 2016 election cycle wound down, five individual donors had spent more than $210 million on political contributions while labor, which represent nearly 15 million members, donated $132 million to super PACs and another $35 million on federal elections. Republican casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his wife alone contributed $52.9 million. The political strength of the labor movement depends a great deal on our “people power. Volunteers take part in the union’s get-out-to vote work, such as phone banking, attending rallies and going door-to-door to encourage members to vote. Across the country members help fortify our political strength by supporting the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees’ own political action fund — known as PEOPLE. John [More...]

Libraries Are What Unites Us

April 9, 2018 // 0 Comments

By DAN RATHER I love libraries. Always have and always will. They shaped my life from childhood onward. In my book What Unites Us, I dedicated a large section of the essay on books to libraries. And since tomorrow marks the beginning of #NationalLibraryWeek, I thought I would share an extended excerpt. I am grateful to all make libraries a continued part of our civic fabric. I recognize a quaintness in waxing nostalgic about libraries in an age when we have instantaneous access to more information than was contained in all the combined library collections of my youth. Still, libraries represent an aspirational notion of democracy. They were, and still are, civic institutions that welcome anyone who wishes to become a more informed and independent citizen. In books we can find expert and trustworthy scholarship on any subject imaginable. By reading books, we can continually challenge our [More...]

Slow Down Youth Inmate Transfers

April 8, 2018 // 0 Comments

An Oct.1 deadline for transferring 16- and 17-year-old offenders from Rikers Island looms. We have no problem with the transfer. But with the transfer only months away, we fear a debacle is in the making. The unrealistic October deadline imposed by the state should be extended to allow more time to prepare for the transfer. New York City unfairly stands alone with that deadline. The transfer of the youthful offenders is occurring as the city is preparing to close Rikers Island, something that human rights advocates have demanded for years. We need to be a part of the process as we are concerned about the safety of our members, primarily represented by Social Service Employees Union Local 371, and wish the change of the workplace is as smooth as possible. Furthermore, the union estimates that 500 additional workers will be needed for the new site. Understaffing is at the root of too [More...]

Labor Confronts a Post-Janus Future

April 7, 2018 // 2 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES The anti-union case before the U.S. Supreme Court — Janus v. AFSCME — has led to a lot of soul searching about improving labor’s way of doing business in the future. A ruling in favor of the plaintiff Mark Janus would allow non-members to receive union services for free without paying dues. This would deliver a tremendous financial blow to public employee unions, undermining their ability to provide services and use their political power to protect the interests of working families. On March 19, DC 37 hosted a meeting of labor leaders, public officials and academics convened by Public Advocate Letitia James that examined the implications of Janus v. AFSCME, which the right-wing hopes will defund unions and ultimately politically destroy them. “Let’s look at our own institutions,” said Vincent Alvarez, president of the AFL-CIO’s New York City Central [More...]

The Path of Most Resistance

April 6, 2018 // 0 Comments

The union waits for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide our fate in anti-union Janus v. AFSCME case. We need not bother. Instead, it’s long past time to hit the road — and take action. Taking this path of most resistance is already showing a positive impact, both in regards to the big picture of winning hearts and minds of working people in the United States and also in concrete achievements. The pushback is growing more effective with each day. For example in West Virginia, a state which recently passed a “right-to-work” law, tens of thousands of teachers and school workers went out on strike for nine days. Not only did the West Virginia teachers win a raise and guarantees on their health insurance, they achieved much more: In a time when unions are under intense attack, the strikers defeated a raft of anti-union bills, including a Wisconsin-style “paycheck protection” bill [More...]

Union Fights to Break ICE From City Courts

April 5, 2018 // 0 Comments

By MIKE LEE The union is standing up against Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents parking themselves in our city courthouses, intimidating immigrants seeking legal help. As part of a draconian Trump administration plan, ICE agents have been out in force implementing an enforcement policy supposedly intended to “target criminals.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, the ICE agents have created an atmosphere of anxiety and fear for New York’s undocumented immigrants, preventing many from appearing in court in a wide variety of cases. According to The New York Law Journal, in an article published in February, ICE agents arrested more than 130 undocumented immigrants at courthouses in New York, with nearly two-thirds of the arrests in the city‘s courthouses. Research by the Immigrant Project, which monitors the agency’s presence in New York court facilities, [More...]