PUBLIC EMPLOYEE PRESS

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...]

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...]

The Right-wing Bradley Foundation Plots to Destroy Unions

October 13, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES A right-wing network of foundations and front groups has spent decades trying to wipe out unions. One of those anti-union foundations is the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. A few years ago, the foundation helped Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker successfully attack public employees and withstand a union-led recall effort. Walker’s chief targets were the teachers union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, DC 37’s national union. Today, the “Wisconsin Model” — whose core goals are weakening collective bargaining, defunding unions, restricting workplace rights, promoting school vouchers, and backing right-to-work legislation — provides the blueprint for anti-labor and anti-government initiatives around the country. “We are up against a conservative network that is sinking millions and millions of dollars into [More...]

Union Organizes Against Constitutional Convention

October 10, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES As the Nov. 7 elections  approach, DC 37 is stepping up its work with a coalition fighting against a ballot question on whether the state should hold a constitutional convention. Established earlier this year, New Yorkers Against Corruption is spreading the word about the danger of holding a convention, which would open the door for special interests to chip away at crucial protections and rights enshrined in the state constitution. The group’s campaign includes a media outreach and door-to-door canvassing. “A lot is at risk,” said Jordan Marks, the group’s campaign manager. “Voting rights. Criminal justice. Environmental protections. Women’s health and a lot more.” Besides working with the coalition, the union is also focusing on informing members about the constitutional convention. Polls show that the convention is not on the radar screen of most [More...]

Justice for Dreamers

October 4, 2017 // 0 Comments

By HENRY GARRIDO Many of us were morally outraged by President Donald J. Trump’s decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA protects undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children from deportation and allows them to work and study here. The day after Trump’s Sept. 5 announcement, I joined New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, the attorneys general of Massachusetts and Washington, young immigrants, nonprofit groups and private companies at a press conference to denounce the repeal. At the press conference, Schneiderman announced that he and eleven other state attorneys general would contest the Trump administration in court, charging that the DACA shutdown violated federal executive policy-making rules. Many immigrants understandably felt Trump’s decision to phase out DACA disrespected their community as well as [More...]

Don’t Like Your Health Plan? October is the Time to Switch

October 2, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES If you wish to change your health-care plan, now is the time to act. The city’s annual health-care “reopener” runs from Oct. 2 to Oct. 31. For city employees who change plans, coverage is effective on the date of their first paycheck in 2018. Retirees can only change their plan in even-numbered years. But they are allowed to change plans in an odd-numbered year if they exercise a one-time exception to that rule. Retiree alert! Beware of aggressive marketing During the annual open enrollment period, retirees are inundated with material from insurance companies and other groups that administer Medicare Part D, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplemental plans. Edward W. Hysyk, executive vice president of the DC 37 Retirees Association, urged retirees to sit tight and be very cautious about changing their plan. “The health-care coverage we receive from DC 37 [More...]

Delegates Elect Deborah A. Pitts as DC 37’s Secretary

September 27, 2017 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO Deborah A. Pitts, president of Finance Administrative Employees and City Investigators Local 1113, was elected on Sept. 26 to serve as secretary of the District Council 37 Executive Board. Union delegates elected Pitts at their monthly meeting. Pitts defeated Local 375 member, former 1st Vice President, and DC 37 delegate Michelle Keller-Ng. The election was held to fill the secretary’s seat on the union’s executive board, made vacant by the retirement earlier this year of Local 957 President Walthene Primus. “It is an honor to serve DC 37 and our members–that’s the most important thing for me, helping our members,” said Pitts. Pitts also serves as the chair of the DC 37 Black History Committee, which every February coordinates a month of activities for members. Pitts has spent more than 30 years as a union activist, and she has been active with the [More...]

DC 37 Gets Ready for Contract Bargaining

September 26, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES The union is preparing to start bargaining with the city for a new economic agreement this fall. Union delegates are expected to vote on demands at their monthly meeting on Sept. 26. The demands will be in part guided by an on-line survey in June of members covered by the union’s master contract. The union’s Negotiating Committee was scheduled to vote on the demands in late August. “We are hoping to enter negotiations in earnest as soon as possible,” DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido said. “We would like to see a quick settlement, but we also know the road to a new contract has historically often been a bumpy one filled with obstacles.” The 2010-17 economic agreement was originally set to expire on July 2. But earlier this year, members voted overwhelmingly to extend the economic agreement to Sept. 25 to help the union’s welfare plan shore up its [More...]