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Union Mourns Intern Killed in Car Accident

January 16, 2019 // 0 Comments

By DIANE W. WILLIAMS The AFSCME family is stunned and saddened by the tragic death of 21-year-old Nadia Mourtaj, a 2018 summer intern in DC 37’s Organizing Department. Nadia and her sister Zeyneb, 15, were in a car accident on Dec. 31, in Charles County, Md. Zeyneb was killed on impact and Nadia died nine days later. They are survived by their mother, Sara Ghebre, and father, Abdelilah Mourtaj. “Nadia was a bright star whose enthusiasm for life and the labor movement was contagious,” said DC 37 organizer Nichole Laing, who helped train the young activist seen in this union video. After Nadia completed the internship, Organizing Dept. Director Barbara Terrelonge said, “Nadia visited New York City in September, marching with DC 37 in the annual Labor Day Parade.” “There were many reasons why I chose Nadia for AFSCME’s program, but what stood out to me was her extensive [More...]

AFSCME Members Join Federal Workers in Rally to End Government Shutdown

January 11, 2019 // 0 Comments

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders and Janice Fridie (District Council 20). Photo Credit: Lorenzo Soto. AFSCME members today joined furloughed federal workers in Washington, D.C., to call for an end to the government shutdown. Altogether, thousands of people marched from the headquarters of the AFL-CIO in downtown D.C. to the White House, demanding that 800,000 federal workers return to their jobs and receive their paychecks. “This shutdown is hurting our families and our communities,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders. “Public health is jeopardized. Consumer protection is compromised. Many national parks are overrun with garbage. Food assistance for low-income families is at risk.” Saunders was one of two dozen speakers outside the AFL-CIO who urged President Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to reopen the government. AFSCME represents about 3,000 federal workers. Janice [More...]

All aboard! Holiday Trains are a favorite at NY Botanical Garden

December 27, 2018 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Under a canopy of verdant tropical flora, the annual Holiday Train Show is in full bloom at the New York Botanical Garden. The exhibit features 175 Lilliputian landmarks, ferries and famous bridges, all under the watchful eyes of Local 374 Quasi-Public Employees at the famed Bronx cultural institution. The NYBG staff of maintainers, attendant guards, custodians, and gardeners and others work behind the scenes to help make this traditional holiday display, unveiled in 1992, one of the most successful cultural exhibits in the city. The collection includes 25 G-scale trains and trolleys that travel over a half-mile of tracks through a cityscape built to rival any Pixar animation. This year children thrill to see a train’s caboose whiz past replicas of the Freedom Tower and the Oculus of Lower Manhattan, the latest models in the Botanical Gardens’ growing collection [More...]

Local 372 Calls Upon Governor Cuomo to Sign Pension Bill

December 23, 2018 // 0 Comments

Leaders of Local 372 are calling for Gov. Cuomo’s signature on a bill that would automatically enroll about 17,000 part-time, temporary employees in the Board of Education Retirement System (BERS) after they pass 90 days of employment. “This legislation would solve a widespread problem that hurts our most vulnerable workers – the loss of years’ worth of valuable retirement benefits that they were legally entitled to,” said Local 372 President Shaun Francois I. The way the system now operates, workers known as “optional employees” can opt-in to BERS, but unless they explicitly express their desire to do so, they are out of the system by default and accrue no benefits. And that’s been a source of financial pain for many of these employees, whose annual salaries average $25,500. “Many members mistakenly believe they are automatically enrolled in the pension system, and [More...]

Pension System to Adopt New Investment Strategy as Fossil Fuel Divestment Moves Ahead

December 21, 2018 // 0 Comments

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Comptroller Scott M. Stringer on Thursday, Dec. 20, announced the next big step in the New York City pension funds’ action to address the risk posed by climate change by divesting from fossil fuel reserve owners – an unprecedented process and the first-of-its-kind in the United States. A request for proposal (RFP) released today seeks advisers to analyze, evaluate, and recommend prudent fossil fuel divestment strategies for the New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS), the Teachers Retirement System (TRS), and the Board of Education Retirement System (BERS). Together, the three pension systems representing 70 percent of the total assets of the city’s $200 billion pension funds. The RFP will result in a comprehensive analysis of the city pension funds’ holdings and the risks the fossil fuel industry poses to pension assets. This [More...]

CUNY Members Overwhelmingly Approve New Contract

December 19, 2018 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Members at the City University of New York voted by more than 98 percent in favor of a 52-month new contract that provides a raise of more than 8 percent with no givebacks. The contract–which covers 10,000 members–includes a new paid family leave benefit, which will go into effect in 2019. “It’s a good contract,” said information technology assistant Anthony Chambers, a Local 2627 shop steward. “It’s in line with what the other city workers got, it’s equitable.” “We are proud to have negotiated a no-giveback contract, with a decent wage increase, that protects our benefits and provides a great new benefit,” said DC 37 executive director Henry Garrido. He expressed his appreciation to the union’s negotiations committee and staff for working hard on the contract. DC 37 and the City University of New York reached agreement in [More...]

A Local 768 Member’s Grievance Leads to Promotions and Higher Pay for Coworkers

December 18, 2018 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS A victory for one advanced an entire unit of Local 768 members when NYC Health+Hospitals promoted nine Lincoln Hospital Social Workers to Level 2 and paid them over $20,000 collectively. The promotions and pay increases resulted from the settlement of an out-of-title grievance filed by a Social Worker Level 1 who stood up for a promotion and back pay. ‘I was feeling underappreciated and that I was not being taken seriously,” said Alyson Helfand, a Lincoln Hospital Social Worker Level 1 since 2015. “I explored my options for help with getting the appropriate compensation for the level for the responsibility I have in overseeing projects and carrying a very large caseload for two years.” Senior Council Rep Janine Thomas filed Helfand’s out-of-title grievance in March 2017. “A promotion is not up to the immediate supervisor,” Thomas explained. “If a [More...]

Union Will Hold a Tax Workshop in January

December 17, 2018 // 0 Comments

Are you looking for help with your taxes? The union’s Municipal Employees Legal Services will host a tax workshop in January. The workshop will be held at DC 37 union headquarters, Thursday, Jan. 10, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., in Rooms, 2, 3 and 4. This workshop will focus on changes resulting from the Trump tax law, which was approved in 2017. The topics covered by the workshop include: Earned Income Credit Child Tax Credit Education Credit Affordable Care Act Requirements Standard and Itemized Deductions and Elimination of Exemptions. For more information, call MELS at 212-815-1111. The DC 37 Blog is an official online publication of District Council 37, AFSCME, which represents 121,000 municipal employees in New York City and surrounding [More...]

Shop Stewards Trained for Key Role in Union Building at Local 3005

December 15, 2018 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS The first training for shop stewards of Local 3005 was an intense condensed one-day session at union headquarters on Dec. 12. “Our agenda specifically catered to what we needed our stewards to know to better service our membership,” said Local 3005 President Jeff Oshins. “When we formed Local 3005, the leaders set the goal to establish a shop steward program and to engage members to become more active in their union,” Sessions said. “We looked for volunteers. Our search was an easy one: We had no problem as dozens of members reached out to the new leadership in response to our call to action that we put out at our first general membership meeting back in September. I am proud to say six months later we were able to get our first training off the ground.” The one-day program gave the 10 shop stewards an overview of their responsibilities and how to [More...]

The CUNY Contract Blitz

December 11, 2018 // 0 Comments

DC 37 Council Rep Leo Morris informs CUNY workers at John Jay College about their proposed contract, which calls for a 8.24 percent wage increase over 52 months. The union many meetings around the city to explain the terms of the contract to members. Photo: Clarence Elie-Rivera. By GREGORY N. HEIRES DC 37’s citywide CUNY campaign is providing the union’s 10,000 members working in the city’s public university system the chance to learn about their proposed contract and to ask questions about bread-and-butter issues affecting them. A 45-member union team is carrying out the information blitz to ensure members are able to make an informed vote on the tentative economic agreement. Union representatives have addressed members at campus, local executive board and general membership meetings, and a conference of an Asian labor coalition. Besides informing members about the provisions of [More...]