POLITICAL ACTION

A Review of 2016 (Part 1): Building a Dynamic Union

January 10, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES In 2016, DC 37 advanced its mission to become a more dynamic and grassroots-oriented union.Despite the anti-union era in the country, DC 37 made significant strides by recruiting new activists while strengthening its workplace presence, deepening ties to the community and developing more political clout. “The transformation of our union will take a long time,” DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido said. “But so far, we have made a lot of progress, and next year we will continue down this path. We are talking about a change in culture at DC 37.” Union activists and elected leaders had a busy year in 2016. Workers at the City University of New York participated in fight-back campaign to win a new contract. Members helped block Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to cut $300 million in state support for the city’s public health-care system and nearly $500 million [More...]

“Recreation Centers Strengthen Communities.”

January 2, 2017 // 0 Comments

I am a Recreation Supervisor at St. Mary’s in the Bronx. I’ve worked for the Parks and Recreation Department since 1999. My job is to make sure the center meets the needs of the community. As a kid I frequented the rec center in Morningside Heights. I have lasting memories of playing sports there and hanging with my friends. We built lifetime friendships and had good role models. Those experiences define me, so when I was figuring out what I wanted to do it helped me choose a career in public service. People of all ages—from 18 months to seniors—come to St. Mary’s and feel welcome and safe. They learn to swim, dance and play sports. We run basketball and billiards tournaments and our dance program has about 450 kids enrolled. We offer free after-school programs and field trips for youth under 17. We offer a range of low-cost memberships for adults, seniors and people with [More...]

DC 37 Plans Legislative Agenda for 2017

December 28, 2016 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO The financial crisis at NYC Health+Hospitals, reducing the number of provisional employees and mobilizing against the proposed constitutional convention were the top priorities laid out by DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido at the union’s 41st annual Legislative Conference. A vote on whether to hold a constitutional conventional will be held in November 2017. The New York State Constitution mandates a vote every 20 years to decide whether to convene a constitutional convention. DC 37 does not support a constitutional convention. “We say no because it’s an opportunity to use public workers as scapegoats,” said Wanda Williams, legislative director of the Political Action and Legislation Dept., at the conference. “Our pensions are protected now, but that could change with a constitutional convention.” Supporters say they would like to convene a [More...]

Trump: A Wake-Up Call for Unions

December 25, 2016 // 0 Comments

By HENRY GARRIDO The election of Donald J. Trump as president distresses us because we fear his policies will allow the decades-long nationwide attack on working people to continue. District Council 37 and its national union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, worked tirelessly for Hillary Clinton because we were convinced that she was the candidate who would best support the interests of our members. We were shocked and deeply saddened by her loss on Nov. 8. But rather than allowing her defeat to leave us licking our wounds and turning us into outliers in the political process, we view this setback as a wake-up call. Trump’s election is an indication of our need to step up our own effort to make DC 37 a more dynamic and powerful union. DC 37’s history is to never quit. The disturbing rightward shift in the country shows how important it is to stick [More...]

Unions and Community Activists Pressure Cuomo to Sign Safety-Net Legislation

December 20, 2016 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS As the December 31 deadline fast approaches, a coalition of health-care activists, elected leaders and working men and women call for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill that would give safety-net hospitals a fairer share of funds to care for the neediest New Yorkers. “Local 1549 and DC 37 have been on the frontlines fighting for decades to preserve and protect public hospitals in New York,” said Eddie Rodriguez, president of Local 1549 and District Council 37. “We urge all union members, members of the community and patients to tell the governor to sign this critical safety-net legislation that would increase funds for public hospitals and insure that our communities continue to receive vital health-care services,” Rodriquez said. The grassroots coalition held a press conference at Harlem Hospital Nov. 15, urging the governor to enact the enhanced safety-net [More...]

Union Rallies to Support Universal Free School Lunch

December 17, 2016 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO Union activists added another 8,000 post cards for Mayor Bill de Blasio to receive during the holiday season. But instead of a Christmas greeting, their message called for free universal lunch for all of the city’s public school students. Executive Vice President Donald Nesbit of Local 372, which represents cafeteria workers, delivered more than a dozen bags of post cards to City Hall on Dec. 15. The post cards were signed by people who want to see public schools offer free lunch to all students regardless of their ability to pay. The mayor supported universal free lunch during his campaign; now activists want him to offer free lunch as he promised. Nesbit was joined by City Council members Mathieu Eugene and Margaret Chin and activists from Lunch 4 Learning, a coalition that has been working with DC 37 and many other groups, to make free and healthy meals [More...]

DC 37 Works with a Coalition to Push for Universal Free Lunch in Public Schools

November 17, 2016 // 0 Comments

Sign the petition! Call on Mayor de Blaiso to ensure a free healthy lunch for all NYC schoolchildren! By ALFREDO ALVARADO What do schools in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Detroit and Dallas offer their students that New York City does not? The answer: a free hot lunch. In those cities, students and their parents are not required to fill out forms to verify their incomes and eligibility to receive a free lunch. All students are eligible and, more importantly, are free from being singled out by other students for eating a free lunch. To address the issue and make sure every student receives a hot lunch, a coalition of food activists in New York City is advocating for universal free school lunch. “In our school lunchrooms, many students don’t get on line because they are afraid to get caught eating ‘free-free’ as it’s known in our world,” explained Aminata Abdouramane, a Lunch 4 [More...]

Union Aims to Mobilize Upstate Workers

November 16, 2016 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS The union’s Blue Collar Division and the Organizing Dept. will be in Kingston, N.Y., on Dec. 13 to bring the DC37/AFSCME Strong campaign to Dept. of Environmental Protection employees represented by the union. Two union meetings—one from 10 a.m. to noon and the other from 1 to 3 p.m. — will be at DEP’s Kingston lab. The sessions will help members get to know their union better  and learn about its benefits. The meetings also aim to spark greater participation and activism, as well as to encourage agency-fee payers to join the union. Agency-fee payers are workers who are covered by the union’s contract and receive benefits but haven’t signed a membership card. Organizers will offer training so members can have positive conversations about the union with their coworkers. The upstate meetings follow a major campaign by the union to reach out to members [More...]

Community Leaders Call on Cuomo to Sign-Safety Net Bill

November 15, 2016 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Governor Cuomo, sign the Safety-Net Hospital bill! At a noon press conference at Harlem Hospital on Nov. 15, a coalition of community leaders, working men and women, and elected leaders called for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill that would give safety-net hospitals a fairer share of funds to care for the neediest New Yorkers.  “The money should follow the patient,” said Barbara Edmonds, director of field operations for DC 37. “All it takes is for Governor Cuomo to sign this bill and we’ll be that much closer to improving health care for everyone in our state — regardless of whether they live in urban or rural communities.” Last spring, the New York State Assembly and Senate unanimously passed the enhanced safety-net hospital bill (A9476A/S.6948-A). The bill defines safety-net hospitals and creates a chance for a more equitable funding formula for [More...]

Unions Get Ready for Fighting to Protect Worker Rights Under the Trump Administration

November 10, 2016 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO Lee Saunders, president of the 1.6 million member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, has vowed to hold Donald J. Trump’s feet to the fire when the Republican president-elect moves into the White House on Jan. 20. “We will do what we do best to hold President-elect Trump accountable on his promise to restore the American Dream,” said Saunders, the leader of District Council 37’s national union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). “We will organize and advocate for solutions for all working people, from affordable health care for all, to reducing student debt, to rebuilding America’s infrastructure,” Saunders said. Organizing to protect to the Affordable Care Act from being dismantled by Trump is a top priority. The ACA provides health care for 20 million Americans. During a campaign stop [More...]