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Book Review: “Latino Americans”

January 2, 2018 // 0 Comments

By KEN NASH Latino Americans,” a 6-hour PBS documentary, links our present to our past, showing that much of what is now the United States was settled by Mexicans (after they subdued the Native Americans). They then were gradually conquered by European Americans in California, Texas, and the Southwest. In the process, their land rights were trampled on and other forms of discrimination reduced Americans of Latino ancestry to second-class citizenship for centuries. Despite this, Latino Americans fought in our wars, frequently heroically, but their contributions, often celebrated for a moment, were soon forgotten. When they returned from World War II, they faced the same discrimination and poverty despite fighting against fascism abroad. But they fought back with newly founded Latino veterans organizations. The 1960s saw a new upsurge of Latin American activism throughout the country [More...]

Communities and Unions

December 28, 2017 // 0 Comments

At DC 37, we want to shatter the myth, perpetrated by anti-labor forces, that unions are insular institutions and a “special interest” group. That’s why we continue to deepen our ties to communities where members live and work. A major step forward was to establish a new Office of Community Partnerships. How’s this embrace of “social unionism” being realized at DC 37? • In partnership with community advocates, we fought for and won universal free lunch, which now covers all 1.1 million children in our public school system. • In our 2016 City University of New York contract campaign, we were part of the CUNY Rising coalition that helped secure more than $300 million in state funding for our public university system. We are working with education advocates to make Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s free-tuition program truly universal. • In the fight-back campaign with NYCHA #NoCut [More...]

The Worldwide Need to Support Municipal Workers

December 27, 2017 // 0 Comments

By ROSA PANVANELLI Imagine a city with no access to safe water and sanitation, where bins overflow and rubbish piles up. A city without affordable child care or transportation, where children have no safe outdoor public spaces to play in and there are no green parks to enjoy. A city where pavements have cracks and holes, road traffic is a nightmare and pedestrians and cyclists are not safe. Without these, and many other essential urban services, cities collapse, local economies cannot run and inhabitants suffer a lower quality of life. And when people are in trouble, they turn to their closest level of government — their city. After Ecuador’s 2016 devastating earthquake, while national government was still assessing the casualties and damage, municipal workers were already digging through the rubble. Diego Celorio, a water worker in Pedernales, saw people trapped in a car still [More...]

Building Stronger Unions, Building Stronger Communities

December 26, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES The decline of unions since the 1970s accounts for about a third of the growth in inequality in the United States — a gap that now mirrors the sharp economic divide of the Great Depression, according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute. During this period, wages of working families have largely stagnated as virtually all of production gains have gone to the wealthy and corporations. This reality points to an important truth: When unions are strong, all working families — not merely union households — are generally better off. The positive impact of unions on our society is explored in “Strong Unions, Stronger Communities,” a recent report issued by DC 37’s parent union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). “The strength of labor unions is critical to fixing the rigged economy and political system by [More...]

South Asian Labor Group Sets Aggressive Political Agenda for 2018 Elections

December 20, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES A South Asian American labor group plans to aggressively build its membership and fight for a Democratic takeover of the U.S. Congress in the midterm elections in 2018. Participants at the Alliance of South Asian American Labor’s 10th annual convention on Dec. 9 celebrated their growing political strength and membership. But they also sharply decried the attack on immigrants, middle-class families and the poor emanating from the White House and U.S. Congress. The group expects to work with coalitions and to take part in voter registration drives and get-out-the-vote efforts in 2018. Speakers highlighted the victories of South Asians in the November election in New Jersey, where ASAAL helped elect Democrat Phil Murphy as governor. Ravi Bhalla won the mayoral in Hoboken, becoming the first Sikh, a South Asian, elected as mayor in New Jersey and one of a few elected [More...]

“I Hope Members Grasp a Fuller Picture of What a Union Does for Them and the Community.”

December 11, 2017 // 0 Comments

Patricia Peterson, retired Senior Police Administrative Aide, Local 1549 By DIANE S. WILLIAMS After 38 years with, the New York Police Department, I retired in February 2017. I was a Senior Police Administrative Aide in the 33rd precinct in Washington Heights since 1994 where I was responsible for crime analysis, reviewing complaints and classifying them as homicides, shootings, break-ins, noting any trends detectives and commanding officers should know about. A friend invited me to my first union meeting in 1988. I had questions I wanted answered, so I went. I became a Local 1549 shop steward and, later, a delegate. I shared information with my coworkers because not everyone can attend every union meeting. This year I was invited to become a Volunteer Member Organizer. It gives me purpose to visit worksites and talk to members about the importance of belonging to a union. I share my [More...]

A Progressive Housing Plan

December 8, 2017 // 0 Comments

Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced that the city is on track to build and protect 200,000 affordable homes by 2022 — two years ahead of schedule — and is taking on a new goal of 300,000 affordable apartments by 2026. The city has secured 77,651 affordable homes, enough for more than 200,000 New Yorkers, since de Blasio took office, according to the mayor’s office. The city also boasts more housing for low-income New Yorkers than ever before, and more protections to keep New Yorkers in their homes. “We are building an engine that will keep families in safe, decent and affordable homes for decades to come,” the mayor said. “We will keep this a city for seniors, veterans, working families and the middle class.” All this is welcome news, indeed — and more evidence of the mayor’s focus on making the city livable for all of its residents. Back in January 2014, the mayor [More...]

Want to Get Back to Normal? Strong Unions are Key

December 7, 2017 // 0 Comments

By LEE SAUNDERS Daily flirtations with nuclear war. Suspending freedom of the press. Fifty-nine people executed during a country music concert. Neo-Nazis and white supremacists marching openly in the streets. American citizens begging for their government’s help after a storm wiped their hopes and dreams off the map, only to then be threatened with revocation of that aid because Wall Street wants its money. Foreign powers sabotage our elections; our leaders sabotage our health care because of an ill-conceived campaign promise. Saying “This isn’t normal” has become clichéd, but finding solutions to get us back to normal isn’t yet commonplace. We don’t have to look too far to find those solutions. They are right beneath our feet. At their best, labor unions provide the stability that allows democracy to flourish. When working people organize, they can call out corruption and [More...]

Union Fights State Workers’ Compensation Changes

December 4, 2017 // 0 Comments

By MIKE LEE The union is taking part in an all-out effort to fight proposed changes to the workers’ compensation system in New York — changes that affect all workers injured on the job. The NYS Workers Compensation Board has proposed medical treatment guidelines and regulations that would eliminate monetary awards for dozens of arm and leg injuries, while also denying workers the right to have an independent medical examination. The change would also deny benefits and care to workers injured on the job who fail to answer all the questions posed by an employer’s medical examiner. Workers’ compensation, which has been on the books in New York for a century, is threatened by right-wing business interests, such as the Business Council, that pressured the state Workers’ Compensation Board to issue proposed changes to longstanding regulations earlier this year. The board’s action [More...]

“We’re Making a Big Difference in the Lives of Women.”

December 2, 2017 // 0 Comments

  Joanne Schmidt, Family Public Health Nurse, Local 436 Most of my time is spent in the field visiting our clients, with a day to do paperwork in the office. They live all over the city, in shelters, in Riker’s Island or they live with foster families. I work with first-time mothers. They can be anywhere from as young as 12 years old to 41-year-old women. I help them with developing their parenting skills and give them orientation regarding lactation support. I make a lot of referrals on their behalf for social and mental health services at clinics. We make a lot of referrals to the Coalition for the Homeless. There’s really no typical person that I deal with. Their main concern is finding permanent housing, then finding a job. A lot of them are interested in continuing their education but that takes a back seat to finding a job and a place to stay — those are the priorities. [More...]