HISTORY

City Library Leaders Discuss Pandemic Response

August 1, 2020 // 0 Comments

By MIKE LEE When 2020 began, the city’s three library systems — New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and the Queens Library — were building on their initial success in obtaining strong funding in last year’s budget. All three were in the process of providing an ever-expanding array of services to the public. They were also in the process of helping out with the 2020 Census and training workers and volunteers to assist patrons in filling out the forms in kiosks installed in the branches for that purpose. The libraries had begun to expand to meet patron needs, offering toddler story time, free computer access, and wifi. Along with a growing collection of multimedia items, the three library systems were able to provide afterschool, adult learning, and computer classes. When the year began, the city’s libraries — after years of underfunding — were vibrant, and the [More...]

Oliver Gray: A Quiet Giant

July 31, 2020 // 0 Comments

By MIKE LEE District Council 37’s Associate Director Oliver Gray, who helped guide two of the union’s Executive Directors with a quiet, yet proactive approach since 2002, died on June 29, three days after suffering a heart attack in his home in Manhattan. He was 79. Until his death, Gray was deeply involved as a guiding force for the union during the COVID-19 pandemic, including preparing Union Headquarters at 125 Barclay St. for the next phase of the long-term modernization of the building, as well as serving his other duties assisting Executive Director Henry Garrido, and supervising the DC 37 staff. Both in times of relative stability and during the tough labor struggles in helping lead the fight against layoffs during the administration of Michael Bloomberg, Gray remained calm during crisis. He supervised the recovery of Union Headquarters in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, [More...]

Remembering Dr. King

April 4, 2020 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS On the 52nd anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination April 4, 1968, we reflect on his life’s legacy: the peaceful pursuit of liberty, justice, equality for all, and service to others. Dr. King would have been 91 this year had he lived, but his life was cut short in 1968 at the age of 39 in Memphis, Tennessee. At the invitation of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME, DC 37’s national union), Dr. King traveled to support Black sanitation workers who were striking for fair wages, safe working conditions, and the right to belong to a union. AFSCME pressed Dr. King to speak to Black Local 1733 members who daily bore humiliations and earned poverty wages. The last speech he ever gave, in which he famously declared that he had “been to the mountaintop,” was delivered at the Mason Temple in Memphis. Dr. King [More...]

Jim Tucciarelli, Union Leader and Activist, Retires

September 25, 2019 // 1 Comment

Jim Tucciarelli, a DC 37 leader for more than three decades and a staunch advocate for fellow responders who worked at Ground Zero in the aftermath of 9/11, has retired. Tucciarelli, longtime president of Sewage Treatment and Senior Sewage Treatment Workers Local 1320, was a member of the DC 37 Executive Board and sat on the Judicial Panel of DC 37’s national union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). He fought tirelessly to protect jobs, and improve the lives of, sewage treatment workers whose dedicated service keeps New York’s communities safe, clean, and healthy. Local 1320’s members operate the Department of Environmental Protection’s 14 wastewater treatment plants and collection facilities. Throughout the years, Tucciarelli played a key role in organizing political and legislative campaigns in New York and around the country. In a 2016 [More...]

Stronger Together: DC 37, 1707 Unite

September 9, 2019 // 2 Comments

Private Sector Members Add to Union Power By GREGORY N. HEIRES and SARA HAAS New York labor history is being made this fall as District Council 1707, which represents 20,000 private-sector members, joins forces with District Council 37, the city’s largest public employees union. As a result, the six unions that made up DC 1707 — Locals 95, 107, 205, 215, 253, and 389 — will comprise a new, private-sector division  within DC 37, bringing DC 37’s total membership to 150,000. Each local union’s structure and leadership remain unchanged. “We are delighted to welcome these hardworking members, who provide vital services in the private sector to the city’s largest union of public employees,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido. “This unification signals a new era in the fight for workers’ rights in New York.” “In unifying with our brothers and sisters at DC [More...]

The Motown Story

March 13, 2018 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS The history of Motown is an American success story, a musical trajectory of glammed-up girl groups, silky harmonies and smooth dance moves crafted in Detroit at a tiny music studio called Hitsville, USA. The music captured the hearts of America’s youth at a time of unparalleled social upheaval. “The Motown Story,” a play written, directed and acted by union members, plots the record label’s course in a return finale production Feb. 28 to close DC 37’s Black History Month celebration. “These songs are the soundtrack of our lives,” said Associate Director Oliver Gray. “They tell our stories and are such a huge part of our lives.” Motown’s chart-topping tunes of first loves and loves lost gave solace to a nation grappling with civil rights, equality, and the Vietnam War. “The beauty of Motown,” Gray added, “is the music broke down barriers and [More...]

Building Stronger Unions, Building Stronger Communities

December 26, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES The decline of unions since the 1970s accounts for about a third of the growth in inequality in the United States — a gap that now mirrors the sharp economic divide of the Great Depression, according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute. During this period, wages of working families have largely stagnated as virtually all of production gains have gone to the wealthy and corporations. This reality points to an important truth: When unions are strong, all working families — not merely union households — are generally better off. The positive impact of unions on our society is explored in “Strong Unions, Stronger Communities,” a recent report issued by DC 37’s parent union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). “The strength of labor unions is critical to fixing the rigged economy and political system by [More...]

Why Unions Matter for Everybody

July 10, 2017 // 0 Comments

By ELAINE BERNARD The decline in strength, density and influence of the labor movement must be a concern for all of us — whether we are union members or not. It has led to stagnating and declining wages and benefits of workers, undermining the entire community. So let’s look a little closer at what unions do, for members, for employers and for the entire community. When union workers talk about the benefit of their union, they think of a wide variety of rights, services and benefits that the union offers: job security, salary protection, paid vacation, the promotion of consistent and fair treatment; a voice in scheduling; recognition and a premium for overtime; a say in hiring and promotion; a united voice in dealing with the employer; an impartial process for resolving complaints; protection against unfair treatment; a role in setting and enforcing occupation health and safety [More...]