PUBLIC EMPLOYEE PRESS

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...]

DC 37 Prepares for U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Against Public Employee Unions UPDATE: Court Will Hear Case

September 20, 2017 // 1 Comment

By MIKE LEE On Sept. 28, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to move forward on perhaps the most important case facing the labor movement in our lifetime. This case, Janus v. AFSCME, is expected to be heard during the court’s upcoming October term with a decision no later than next June. Janus is the latest attempt by anti-union forces to take away public workers’ hard-won freedoms to organize, negotiate for fair pay and working conditions, as well as to strip them of their benefits. Janus seeks to overturn the ability of unions to collect fees from agency fee payers, who enjoy the benefits of union representation without membership. A ruling may force public service workers’ unions into such a right-to-work environment. For the rich and powerful 1 percenters and corporate CEOs, a legal victory in Janus will hurt a union’s ability to fight on behalf of workers by allowing agency [More...]

DC 37 Annuity Fund Shows Strong Growth

August 25, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Since its inception, the District Council 37 AFSCME Annuity Fund has grown annually by nearly 6 percent. “The annuity is a painless and cost-effective way to save for retirement,” said Audrey Browne, the associate administrator and counsel at the DC 37 Health & Security Plan, which oversees the annuity. The annuity was established in 1999 after DC 37 won the optional benefit in an economic agreement. Each DC 37 member from a local that opted to participate received a $522 one-time contribution from the city for the annuity. The $522 in seed money for individual accounts has grown to $1,467 since 1999. The annual interest rate of the fund is at a healthy 5.99 percent. In July, investors in U.S. Treasury notes and bonds could count on a 1.99 percent in earnings over 10 years, according to the website of the financial services company Edward P. Jones & Co., [More...]

Inmates at Rikers Island Jail Say “Thanks!” to a Dedicated Library Worker

August 19, 2017 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Stacks of handwritten thank-you notes for the New York Public Library’s mobile library and literacy program at Rikers Island underscore the value of the services Local 1930 member Louise Stamp provides to hundreds of incarcerated men awaiting trial. In their letters, the men at Rikers express profound respect for Stamp, a Library Administrative Assistant in Correctional Services at the George R. Vierno Center on Rikers Island and a vice president of Local 1930. “I would love to give thanks to a very blessed and brave woman for faithfully bringing books to men like me…locked up on Rikers Island 24/7. Ms. Stamp you are forever loved and appreciated,” one detainee wrote. “Many take the time to complain, I thought it was necessary to give thanks to Ms. Stamp and the NYPL,” said another detainee, who even offered money to support the unique library [More...]

Parks Worker Facing Deportation Released from Detention

August 12, 2017 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Jose Molina is back on the job restoring Bronx ball fields for the New York City Parks and Recreation Dept. after the Local 983 member was detained almost a month after reporting to Immigration Court at 26 Federal Plaza. Four years of liberty ended for no apparent reason, his lawyers said, after Molina dropped off his passport July 13 and told his deportation officer of his next court date in May 2018. He was moved to the Varick Street federal detention center for deportation. DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido , Local 983 President Joe Puleo, City Council members Carlos Menchaca and Fernando Cabrera, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and other elected officials and immigration advocates called for Molina’s immediate release. Molina was freed on Aug. 8. Molina, a dedicated Associate Parks Service Worker, is glad to clear another legal hurdle in his fight [More...]