WHO WE ARE

Breaking point

July 3, 2017 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Sammy Kamara was 7 when his parents sent him to live with an uncle in Monrovia, Liberia, to learn English with hopes for a better life. The uncle betrayed Sammy’s parents, brutalized the child and gave him away. “I was really a house slave,” said Sammy Kamara, a Local 374 Maintainer at the New York Botanical Gardens. “I was the perfect child laborer. I was not paid a penny. I worked. I cleaned. I helped with the children.” “It was slavery. I could not move until master said ‘Move.’ If I made eye contact, they would whip me,” Kamara said. His 2015 memoir “Breaking Point: A Journey of Self-Awareness and Finding Purpose in Pain,” recounts his eight years as a slave in Monrovia and the Bronx, and finally freedom. Kamara has worked for the Botanical Gardens for 40 years and attended New York Theological Seminary. His book draws on the wisdom of U.S. [More...]

Ready for the Summer

June 28, 2017 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS To be ready for the summer, the Parks and Recreation Dept. got an early start. Its Municipal Lifeguard Training Program helped 350 fresh-faced teens qualify as state-certified City Lifeguards represented by DC 37 Local 461. To meet the job’s demanding qualifications, the recruits attended weeks of rescue classes and workout sessions after school to ace the written exam and swim test at Manhattan’s Chelsea Pool April 17. “The training is grueling but these kids have proven themselves to be the best of the best—strong competitive swimmers who are eager to work hard to keep the public safe,” said veteran Lifeguard Supervisor Javier Rodriguez of Local 508, one of the test administrators. “These first responders have a tremendous responsibility beyond their years,” said Local 508 President Peter Stein. “Most kids’ first jobs are in fast food or at the [More...]

“Even Living in Less Than Ideal Circumstances, You Can Have a Healthy and Happy Baby”

June 11, 2017 // 0 Comments

Sandra Steiner, Nurse Home Visitor, Local 436 As a Nurse Home Visitor, there’s never a typical day on the job. I could be visiting a client at a homeless shelter, a foster home or Riker’s Island. People might think Riker’s is dangerous, but I actually feel safer there because they have lots of security. The clients we work with are first-time mothers. We begin providing supportive services when they are seven months pregnant until the baby is 2-years-old. I have a caseload of 15 clients that I visit twice a month. My clients live all over the city. We get referrals mostly from the Dept. of Homeless Services, the Prevention Assistance Temporary Housing program. There’s no typical client They can be as young as 12 and as old as 41. Sometimes they’re having twins or triplets. We make sure they follow up with their pre-natal appointments with their doctors. If they live in a [More...]

“I Look Forward to Helping Union Members on the Job”

June 10, 2017 // 0 Comments

Stacey Peyton, Records Access Officer, Local 1359 Do you remember that Verizon wireless commercial? The one where the guy would say “Can you hear me now?” And he would have millions of people behind him. That visual, all of the folks behind this one man asking if he can be heard, has always stuck out in my mind. To me, that perfectly represents what it is like being part of a labor union. It was 27 years ago that I started working at the NYS Homes and Community Renewal Office of Rent Administration. My coworkers and I process requests for access to public records about apartment buildings, rental histories, and anything else that may be necessary for people looking into where they live or may be considering moving to. This information is essential in many cases to help keep a safe, clean, and comfortable roof over the heads of New Yorkers. Together with a staff of 12 people who I [More...]

“You have to help and you have to heal. You have to give kind words to help people through the day.”

May 7, 2017 // 0 Comments

Clerical Associate 3 Olivia Crum-Owens, Local 1549 Photo: Clarence Elie-Rivera I wanted to be like Nurse Hardy on the TV show General Hospital, so I enrolled in SEEK, a jobs program, at Hunter-Bellevue to become a Licensed Practical Nurse. I did well, but nursing was not like TV. I became an Office Aide at Harlem Hospital in 1972. From my very first day, I knew my rights because I took time to read the contract. Back then union dues were 50 cents a week. The Local 1549 president and someone from Wells Fargo Bank would come to our worksite every two weeks to collect union dues. Today we pay more than the $3 a month we did back then, but I still believe union dues are worth every penny. I transferred to Elmhurst Hospital in 1978; this way I didn’t have to take three trains just to get to work. A coworker once thought she could block me from using a certain bathroom. She told me it was [More...]

“Being in a labor union means protecting an important American institution and the middle class.”

May 6, 2017 // 0 Comments

Sr. Landscape Architect Ricardo Hinckle, Local 375 As a Senior Landscape Architect, I supervise a staff of seven others, making sure that their projects are completed properly, safely and on time. Our goal is to deliver nothing but the best for the people of this city. The work that we do is a privilege. By designing the city’s parks and playgrounds, we provide the community essential places where they can enjoy time with their families and friends outdoors. In 2002, then-newly elected New York City Mayor Bloomberg appointed Adrian Benepe as new Commissioner for the New York City Parks Dept. Benepe came into office with the goal of changing the way things were run. I had already been at the Capital Projects Division within the Parks Dept. for eight years. My coworkers and I, members of Civil Service Technical Guild Local 375, felt that things were already run well and the threat of [More...]

“I plan to encourage my grandchildren to become union members. That means fighting now to make sure the labor movement is still alive.”

May 1, 2017 // 0 Comments

Pam Sage, Clerical Associate 3, Local 1549 If you ever have the opportunity to take on new experiences that you can learn from and help people through, take it. That is the best advice I can give, and it’s the mindset that has brought me to work at four different New York City agencies over the past 33 years. It has been a blessing to have so many different chances to work for the city over the years, and to have my union, Local 1549, with me every step of the way. For the past eight years, I’ve been working at the Dept. of Sanitation as a Clerical Associate 3. We make sure the garbage trucks are where they’re supposed to be and everyone is safe. As long as I’ve been employed, my union has always supported me with any problems I’ve ever had both at work and in life. Last year, I decided it was time for me to start being more involved with my union. I became a shop steward so [More...]

“We try to put together an action plan for the family”

April 30, 2017 // 0 Comments

La’Nette Murphy, Parent Coordinator, Local 372 PS 15 is in the Lower East Side in District 1. I’ve been working there for 14 years as a Parent Coordinator. We have a lot of other members of Local 372 working in the school, like School Aides, pre-K Family Workers, Lunch Aides and the School Crossing Guard. Ours is a Renewal school. It’s open sometimes on Saturdays when we offer special workshops and programs for the parents and the students. We start with pre-K students and go up to the fifth grade. Our school offers our students and their parents a lot of services. My job is to try and help build that foundation for them. Some of the workshops help the kids improve their reading skills. We offer workshops for the parents on handling their finances, how to apply for food stamps or Social Security. We even have resume writing workshops. The nurse will do a workshop. The kids are [More...]

“Unions Fight for You. Non-union Workers Can be Dumped, No Questions Asked.”

March 12, 2017 // 0 Comments

I grew up just two blocks away from the American Museum of Natural History. It always amazed me that so many people would come from around the world to see the dinosaurs and exhibits of ancient cultures in the same neighborhood that my father’s local store stood in. When a friend of mine started working at the museum and told me about how great a place it was, I eagerly applied for a job there as well. That was 1967. Since then, for 50 years now, I have been a Supervising Attendant Guard and proud member of Local 1306. The union has been there for me since day one in so many ways. I’ve always seen people who are afraid of losing their jobs or struggling with paying for health insurance, and that’s something I’ve never worried about. I don’t know how anybody could raise a family here without the kind of amazing health benefits that I and my coworkers, who are also union [More...]

“My Union is My Passion. We Stand Tall for All. I Do What I Enjoy Most–Helping Others”

March 11, 2017 // 0 Comments

Shawn Gray, Service Aide, Local 420 I believe in working for change. But in order for people to change, they have to start with self. I was raised by my mom in Queensbridge Houses. In my Park Slope North community, I volunteer to work to empower young men, to give the youth the tools I didn’t necessarily have growing up. I want them to avoid the mistakes I made. I let them know they can be leaders and think for themselves; they can rise above their environment. I am a Service Aide for the Health and Hospitals Cook Chill plant in Brooklyn. We are the main kitchen and have the very important work of preparing and delivering meals to all public hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities. We prepare over 100,000 meals a day for patients. Our food nourishes sick people to recovery. We maintain strict standards of cleanliness and food safety to avoid food-borne illnesses and [More...]