Articles by Mike Lee

Bronx Book Lovers Organize

May 8, 2016 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO Dr. Ilana Breslau, a Senior Psychologist at North Central Bronx Hospital, works with patients dealing with mental health issues. She also leads groups that meet weekly to discuss women’s and substance abuse issues. During her eight years on the job, the Psychologists Local 1189 member has always tried to look for new ways to connect with her patients, sometimes even trying things not suggested in the textbooks she studied while earning her Ph.D. at Fairleigh Dickinson University. An avid reader since she was a child and a member of several book clubs, Breslau decided to start a book club for the patients at the Bronx hospital and last year launched the Outpatient Book Club. Through discussion of the characters and themes in the books, Breslau hoped the participants would relate to shared experiences and feel less isolated. “Reading about universal themes such as [More...]

Trump: A Zero for Working People

May 8, 2016 // 0 Comments

When an erratic billionaire and reality TV star known for bizarre, contradictory utterances, self-pitying victimization and overblown arrogance becomes a presidential candidate, you get a clown dressed as a prince while remaining a clown — a destructive one. A charlatan with a history of questionable business and personal decisions, Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate, lent his name to a fraudulent “university” that burdened its students with debt; filed multiple bankruptcies, leaving debt holders in the lurch, and has compiled, instead of accomplishments, decades of negative press in tabloids and gossip columns. All of this should have ended his campaign on its second day. Instead, Trump rode a tidal wave of anger that now engulfs the Republican Party. His campaign for president is predicated on blame; its central strategy is the art of the attack. He has [More...]

An Appeal For Unity

May 7, 2016 // 0 Comments

Hillary Clinton has virtually ensured her nomination as the Democratic candidate for president. The numbers tell the story: The delegate count after her recent victories in New York, Pennsylvania and other states make her a lock for the nomination. Though Sen. Bernie Sanders probably will not drop out of the primary race before the Democratic convention, we believe the time is now to end the rancor that has split progressives during this election season. After the vote in New York, Clinton appealed to Sanders’ backers. “To all the people who supported Senator Sanders, I believe there is much more that unites us than divides us,” she said. Indeed, both candidates want to curb inequality while supporting unions, creating jobs and reforming Wall Street. Polls currently indicate a quarter of Sanders’ backers say they would never vote for Clinton. Others say they may stay home on [More...]

Fighting For Fair Budgets

May 6, 2016 // 0 Comments

By HENRY GARRIDO Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO As part of a coalition we played an important role in stopping nearly $1 billion in combined cuts in the state budget to the City University of New York and the city’s public hospitals. The fight-back is an example of how we participate in the political process to protect our jobs and the services we provide. The campaign involved demonstrations, lobbying, and social media, including collecting thousands of signatures for an on-line petition. Now that the Albany fight is over, we focus our attention on the city’s budget. We expect a busy couple of months ahead as the City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio work out an agreement on the budget, which should be signed by the end of June. We have a number of priorities for the city’s fiscal 2017 budget that I want to share with you. ● We seek $65 million more [More...]

New York City Scraps Veolia Contract

May 5, 2016 // 1 Comment

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS In a victory for providers and consumers of public services, city officials say a multi-million dollar contract with a private French conglomerate to manage the city’s 14 waste­water treatment plants will not be renewed. The contract with Veolia, a $27 billion company based in Paris, is set to expire in June. The contract came with a couple of one-year extension options that will not be exercised, city officials told DC 37. Union leaders and privatization oppo­nents hailed the decision. “We are pleased that the city has decided to bring this contract to an end,” said Jim Tucciarelli, president of Sewage Treatment and Senior Sewage Treatment Workers Local 1320, whose members operate the Dept. of Environmental Protection’s wastewater treatment plants and collections facilities. DC 37 locals worked with their national union, AFSCME, and advocacy groups, such [More...]

Juan Gonzalez: Iron Man of the News Room

May 4, 2016 // 1 Comment

By TOM ROBBINS (Editor’s Note: After 29 years as a columnist for the New York Daily News, Juan Gonzalez retired from the paper in April to teach at Rutgers University. He will continue to write an occasional column. We asked his colleague and kindred spirit Tom Robbins, a recent Pulitzer Prize finalist for his coverage of violence in New York’s prisons, to reflect on Gonzalez’s contributions to our city and to the craft of journalism.) In the fall of 1987, Juan Gonzalez came up to New York from Philadelphia where he had been working as a reporter for a few years. He came at the invitation of an old editor, F. Gillman Spencer III. The son of one of Philadelphia’s wealthy Main Line families, Spencer was a true traitor to his class. As editor at the Philadelphia Daily News, he had loved the way Gonzalez, a former street organizer from East Harlem and East New York by way of Ponce, [More...]

Retiree Activist Loses Home in Fire

April 29, 2016 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO For 30 years, Sallie Robertson worked a busy Brooklyn intersection as a Local 372 School Crossing Guard helping the students from St. Francis of Assisi Elementary School cross Nostrand Avenue. Robertson, now a DC 37 retiree long active in union campaigns, was highly regarded by the parents, teachers and students from the school. When she retired in June 2008, the Midwood Block Association held a farewell party in her honor. Robertson has enjoyed her retirement, spending time with her grandchildren and volunteering with the union’s Retirees Association. But on March 29, while doing laundry in her home in St. Albans, Queens, a spark ignited in her dryer and started a serious fire. Robertson, her aunt and grandchildren quickly left the house as the fire spread to the main floor of her three-story residence. None of them were harmed, but considerable damage was done to [More...]

Labor and Faith Outreach Steps Up Spring Efforts

April 8, 2016 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO The New York AFSCME Labor and Faith Community Outreach program will be stepping up its outdoor organizing efforts this spring, delivering books to school children, distributing healthy produce in communities and helping to get out the vote for the November election. Last year, activists from the group distributed more than 4,000 books at the annual Harlem Book Fair and joined forces with the City Harvest Mobil Markets to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to people in need of fresh produce. “The vision of this program is to support DC 37 members in organizing around common challenges impacting them through the faith- and community-based organizations they belong to,” said DC 37 Field Operations Director Barbara Ingram-Edmonds during the group’s first spring meeting, on April 4, at union headquarters. At the meeting, the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther [More...]

DC 37 Endorses Hillary Clinton for President

March 30, 2016 // 0 Comments

BY MIKE LEE With the New York Democratic Party presidential primary in three weeks on Tuesday, April 19, DC 37 has endorsed former New York Sen. Hillary Clinton for president. Last night, the DC 37 delegates voted overwhelmingly to endorse her candidacy at their monthly meeting, after impassioned speeches in her support by local presidents Dennis Ifill of Local 1359, who is also chair of the DC 37 Political Action Committee, and James Tucciarelli of Local 1320, as well as Local 1549 Executive Vice President Alma Roper. “We are proud to endorse Secretary Clinton as the next president of our great nation,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido. “We supported her first run for office back in 2000, when she was elected to the U.S. Senate. We know her serious commitment to public service and her history of fighting for others, especially children and working families. She can [More...]

Bill Clark Always Delivers

March 30, 2016 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO City workers are familiar with employees who anxiously wait for that special date when they’ll retire. They count the days left and announce it to anyone who will listen and have the date circled on their calendar. Bill Clark has been on the job since 1959, turned 76 on Feb. 10 but doesn’t mention retirement. For almost six decades he’s worked as a Loader and Handler for the Dept. of Education, delivering meals and kitchen supplies all over the city to make sure hungry school children are feed. Clark leaves his Bronx apartment every morning before dawn when it’s pitch black for the train ride to the industrial section of Long Island City in Queens to DOE headquarters. He joins a crew of 20 Loaders and Handlers to start loading the trucks at 6 a.m. then hit the road to make their deliveries. Given his seniority, the 76-year-old Clark could stay in a nice warm [More...]