NEWSROOM

Union and City Start Contract Talks

November 27, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES DC 37 started bargaining talks with the city for a new economic agreement on Nov. 14 with both sides expressing hope to wrap up negotiations quickly. “I can’t overemphasize that we need a contract now,” DC 37 Executive Henry Garrido told Labor Commissioner Robert W. Linn at the opening bargaining session. “Our members deserve a raise as soon as possible.” Union wants a three-year contract. The union’s 13 demands include a three-year agreement with a fair wage increase. “We are looking to improve our standard of living,” David Paskin, DC 37’s director of research and negotiations said, commenting on the union’s overarching concern in these negotiations. Paskin noted that members feel under a lot of financial pressure because of high rents, rising food and transportation expenses, and skyrocketing drug prices. Members are also anxious about their [More...]

A Bridge Maintainer’s Mitzvah

November 21, 2017 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS For years Anthony Pisciotta, a Bridge and Tunnel Maintainer in Local 1931, drove past Bayside Cemetery every day. He saw the long neglected Jewish burial ground near Kennedy Airport that was overgrown with knee-high weeds and tangles of brush and trees. Pisciotta found felled tombstones scrawled with graffiti, mausoleums and coffins busted open and robbed of valuables. The grounds were littered with garbage and desecrated and exposed corpses. “I was incensed at what had become of this final resting place,” said Pisciotta, who lives in the Bronx. “I could complain or I could improve the situation.” The synagogue that owns the Bayside graveyard, Shaare Zedek, had stopped hiring groundskeepers years ago. So Pisciotta, though not Jewish, performed a mitzvah, a good deed. He began a restoration project that quickly became his consuming passion. Pisciotta’s [More...]

Metropolitan Museum of Art Workers Win Health-Care Dispute

November 20, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Thirty-four guards at the Metropolitan Museum of Art will have extra cash on hand for the holidays thanks to the resolution of a payroll dispute between the union and management. Each guard is due $1,200 as the museum acknowledged its failure to meet its obligation to compensate workers who declined to sign up for health-care coverage because they enrolled in an outside plan. Earlier this year, Metropolitan Museum of Art Local 1503 President Rawle Campbell started to investigate the problem after three members — Maria Mantzavinou, Lara Pink and Vera Quehaja — brought the matter to his attention. They had noticed their paychecks didn’t list the payments for the health-care waiver. Pink said the personnel department told her the payments weren’t made because the federal government adopted a new policy requiring recipients to request the opt-out every year. [More...]

Lifeguards Mark Four Years Without Drownings

November 15, 2017 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS City Lifeguards in Local 461 and their Supervisors in Local 508 are credited for achieving an outstanding public safety record as they complete their fourth consecutive season with no fatalities or drownings at public pools and beaches while Lifeguards were on duty. “These first responders protect millions of residents and tourists who visit New York City’s beaches and pools daily during the summer,” said Local 508 President Peter Stein. The locals’ record is especially impressive when considering on average, 10 people die every day from unintentional drowning in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control names it the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury or death. “As first responders Lifeguards, most of whom are still in their teens when hired, have a tremendous responsibility beyond their years,” Stein said. “Most kids’ first jobs [More...]

When Terror Struck, DC 37 Members Responded

November 7, 2017 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS DC 37 members were crucial first responders to the deadly rampage in lower Manhattan on Oct. 31 that claimed eight lives and sent eleven injured people to the hospital. Mayor Bill de Blasio called the incident “an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians.” Officials called it the deadliest terrorist attack in New York since thousands of lives were lost when the World Trade Center towers were destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001. Local 983 Urban Park Rangers in Hudson River Park first spotted a rental truck speeding southbound on the bicycle and jogging paths at Houston and West St. around 3 p.m. “They made the first calls to 9-1-1,” said Local 983 President Joe Puleo. The driver mercilessly plowed into pedestrians and cyclists along the West Street path. Victims laid strewn and broken among crumpled Citibikes. “In the [More...]

New City Program Places Homeless with Host Families

November 5, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES An innovative new city program backed by the union will help the homeless to leave their shelters to live with a host family. The city will run the program through its Pathways to Housing service, which addresses homelessness by combining housing with treatment for mental and physical health, substance abuse, education and employment. The new Pathway Home Program will encourage homeless individuals and families to live with friends or family members (host families). Host families will receive $1,200 to $1,800 a month in compensation, depending on their household size. In October, DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido and Commissioner Steven Banks of the Dept. of Social Services sent a joint letter to the union’s members about the Pathway Home Program. The union is partnering with the city to alert members who might be interested in serving as a host family. The [More...]

A Union Mission to Puerto Rico

November 4, 2017 // 0 Comments

By HENRY GARRIDO Putting aside the Trump administration’s lackluster response to the devastation from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, we all should be proud of the dedication of the government workers who are providing crucial humanitarian aid on the island. Thousands of federal, state and local public employees from around the country have volunteered for the disaster relief effort. Six members of DC 37 — a nurse and five construction workers—were among 320 union workers who left New York City on Oct. 4 on a flight to Puerto Rico in a humanitarian mission sponsored by the AFL-CIO. The workers on the United Airlines union-made Boeing 777-300ER flight included doctors, nurses, electricians, carpenters, masons, engineers and truck drivers. The city’s outpouring of support for Puerto Rico reflects our special ties with the 3.5 million people on the island. The 723,621 Puerto Ricans [More...]

Legislative Conference Explores Critical Issues Facing the Union

November 3, 2017 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO The fight to keep pay loans out of New York, the financial crisis at the city’s public hospitals, the federal budget’s impact on New York City and the effect of a ruling by U.S. Supreme Court next year in the Janus v. AFSCME case were topics of discussion at DC 37’s 42nd Annual Legislative Conference. “Even though pay day loans are banned here, it doesn’t mean they’re not trying to get back in,” said Assemblywomen Yuh-Line Niou, who represents Manhattan’s 65th District. Niou was one of the speakers at the Oct. 28 conference at DC 37 headquarters. She acknowledged the work the union has done to protect union members against pay loans and pointed to New York State as a model for other states to follow in the fight to protect consumers. “DC 37 has been on the front lines fighting to protect New Yorkers against predatory lending,” Niou said. Sally [More...]

Mayor de Blasio Speaks Out on the Millionaires’ Tax to Save Subways

November 3, 2017 // 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: DC 37 members last week came out in support of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s fight for a millionaires’ tax to help fix the country’s largest subway system. Also joining the fight was Vermont U.S. Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. The mayor’s remarks from the press conference at a lower Manhattan subway station are excerpted here… Standing in the presence of Bernie Sanders means a lot to me, because… he has said things that needed to be said. He said something simple; the economy is rigged against working people. And it’s time to take action to change that and we have to do that in every city, in every state and across our nation in the halls of Congress. We have to understand that a millionaire’s tax to fix the MTA is another way of responding to the inequality that plagues our society… Now, we happen to be here in a subway station [More...]

Family Paid Leave Fight Examined in “Zero Weeks” Documentary

November 1, 2017 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO Paid family leave is offered to workers all over the world from Iraq to Mexico and Brazil. Papua New Guinea and the United States are on a very short list of countries that don’t offer the benefit to their workers. “Why is it that the rest of the world has figured this out and we haven’t,” asks one of the many people interviewed in a new documentary examining the failure to provide the benefit for millions of American workers. Only 14 percent have paid family leave. The documentary, “Zero Weeks: America’s Family Leave Crisis,” is set to premiere in Manhattan on Saturday, Nov. 11 at the SVA Theater at 333 W. 23rd St. The film examines the struggle of American workers as they juggle full-time jobs with taking care of sick parents, spouses and children. One woman talks about having to get cancer treatment during her lunch break. The documentary [More...]