LEGAL SERVICES

Union Explains Statewide Tenant Reforms at Workshop

September 30, 2019 // 0 Comments

By MIKE LEE The hard-won, historic changes to New York’s rent regulation laws have raised many questions about the new rights and benefits tenants now have under the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 passed by the state Legislature. DC 37’s Municipal Employees Legal Services (MELS) stepped up to help answer these questions at a recent workshop attended by more than 100 members. “There are more than a 100 pages of changes in the new law,” explained supervising attorney John Bart. “These are changes that benefit our members.” Tenant rights activists and organizers Michael McKee and Anita Long briefed the audience on the efforts to push Albany to pass these reforms. This effort reversed a decades-long trend of legislation wedded to big-money real estate interests. Among the legislation’s many reforms: Ending “vacancy increases,” which landlords used to [More...]

Big Turnout at Housing Fair

August 27, 2019 // 0 Comments

BY DIANE S. WILLIAMS Hundreds of DC 37 members and retirees took their first steps towards buying a home at the union’s 14th annual housing fair on Aug. 24 at 125 Barclay Street. “Home ownership is possible for our members,” said Ruth Pena, director of the Municipal Employees Housing Program. “We start with budgeting and saving for the purchase to closing on a house, condo or coop apartment. We offer a range of service providers — real estate agents, home inspectors, mortgage lenders, and more. We work within members’ budgets and even repair their credit report.” Members participated in workshops and classes Saturday afternoon that helped them prepare for home ownership. Those searching for apartments can access a special 5 percent set aside of affordable rentals. Members who may be homeless or victims of domestic violence can also find safe housing through the program. [More...]

Head of Legal Services Retires

January 25, 2019 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Family, friends, coworkers and judges on Jan. 18 gathered to bid farewell to Joan Beranbaum, the director and chief counsel of the DC 37 Municipal Employees Legal Services Plan, who is leaving the union after 39 years with the program. Beranbaum was among the first group of employees to join the legal services program when it opened in 1977. Beranbaum learned about the job opening while she was working at the Legal Aid Society, where she was hired right after she graduated from New York University Law. MELS attracted her because it was a pioneering service for union workers. At her retirement party, Beranbaum noted that over the course of her nearly four-decade career at DC 37, MELS handled the cases of half a million DC 37 members and retirees. Speakers praised Beranbaum for devoting her career to working people rather than the rich and powerful. She remained [More...]

Welcome to DC 37

November 26, 2018 // 0 Comments

At Meetings Around the City, Public Service Workers Are Signing Up With the Union By GREGORY N, HEIRES DC 37 continues to sign up new members under our Leading the Way campaign to promote the benefits of union membership and encourage rank-and-file participation. Last month, DC 37 held five meetings with mid-level city employees whose misclassified job titles had kept them out of the union during the Bloomberg administration but are now eligible to join or re-join. A sixth meeting was also held in November for City University of New York employees, who recently won a new contract. Union Offers Job Security Many workers who signed union membership cards at the meetings indicated that job security was their top reason for joining. Monifa Thomas, a 20-year city employee who is now a senior project manager at the Administration for Children’s Services, described job security as “an [More...]

DC 37 Welcomes Members In New Union-Represented Titles (Open House on Nov. 8)

October 18, 2018 // 0 Comments

By MIKE LEE Recently, DC 37 and the city agreed that the union will represent more than 900 public workers serving in positions categorized as managerial and not covered by the New York City collective bargaining Law. If you are one of the 900 workers whose job was reclassified as a new administrative title represented by the union, please join DC 37 for an open house. A meeting will be held Thursday, Nov. 8 from 12 to 2 p.m. at the New York City Dept. of Small Business Services, on the 7th floor, 110 Williams St., in Lower Manhattan. You will learn about the benefit of being part of our union family and find out how DC 37 helps our members at the bargaining table and lobbying at City Hall and in Albany for adequate funding for public services for those most vulnerable in our communities. Find out how our union negotiates for decent wages, paid family leave, overtime, union [More...]

Union Helps Members Fight Off Unscrupulous Debt Collectors

August 8, 2018 // 0 Comments

    By ALFREDO ALVARADO  President Donald Trump has rolled back financial regulations of all kinds. And now, thanks to his policies, the slimly debt collection business is back. Debt buyers are companies that purchase debt from an original creditor, usually a credit card issuer or a bank. They then try to collect the amount owed. Usually, they sue the debtor without notification. When the unsuspecting consumer does not show up in court, a default judgement is entered, paving the way for his or her salary to be garnished. Sheldon Barasch, supervising attorney for the union’s Municipal Employees Legal Services, does not think highly of the debt collection business. “These debt settlement companies are a total scam,” he said. “We’ve seen this going on for many years.” The MELS Bankruptcy Unit handles as many as 1,000 of these cases annually. A 2009 MELS study found that [More...]

When ICE Comes Knocking

May 9, 2017 // 0 Comments

Local 983’s Jose Molina turned his life around, but U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement may deport the family man for a 20-year-old conviction. By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Loud pounding at 5:30 a.m. on a cold January morning in 2013 jolted Jose Molina and his family from their sleep. Molina’s wife, Jennifer, opened the door of their Bronx apartment. In the hallway stood five armed men. Within minutes, they were knocking over furniture and spilling out dresser drawers. The commotion frightened the Molina children, then ages 11 and 9, who began to cry as the strangers confined them to their bedrooms, out of the reassuring reach of their parents. The men surrounded Jose and Jennifer in their living room. She begged for an explanation. Then the men, officers of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), handcuffed Jose and led him away as his crying family watched. Since that cold, [More...]

Trump’s Nationalistic Policies Worry Immigrant Members

March 31, 2017 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO President Donald J. Trump’s executive order issued on Jan. 27 sought to ban people from seven Muslim majority countries from entering the United States. The order was swiftly struck down by the federal court with orders not to deport or detain travelers. Chaos prevailed at airports around the country on the weekend the day after Trump issued the ban. At Kennedy Airport in New York City, hundreds of demonstrators joined cab drivers and protested against the ban. Panic also spread among the thousands of immigrant New Yorkers. Fear spread to immigrants not covered by the ban and even immigrants who have green cards and visas. Ferdous Ahmed, a member of Electronic Data Processing Personnel Local 2627, was one of those New Yorkers. Shocked by what he was seeing on the evening news that weekend, Ahmed called the union’s Municipal Employees Legal Services (MELS) the [More...]