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...]

DC 37-backed Law will Help Provisional Workers Become Civil Servants

December 22, 2016 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Under a new law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in late November thousands of provisional city employees will have the opportunity to become civil servants with layoff, seniority, and disciplinary  job protections. The law allows the city to extend a plan for reducing the ranks of the 22,000 provisional workers on its payroll. By law, municipalities are only supposed to employ provisional workers for up to nine months. At that point, the workers must be hired into a permanent position or be let go. “This is a tremendous achievement for the union,” DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido said. “It will eliminate the specter of job loss that is always in the back of the mind of provisional workers.” The city began trimming its provisional workforce after a 2007 court ruling, which upheld the civil service rule that restricts municipalities from employing [More...]

Laborers Overwhelmingly Approve New Contract

December 21, 2016 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Members of Laborers Local 924 voted 261 to 9 in favor a new contract that provides a 5.34 percent pay rate increase and restores benefits taken away by the city after it carried out a 2012 court order for substantial hourly rate increases. The settlement ends a 15-year period in which Laborers worked without a contract. The independent American Arbitration Associated announced the results of the mail-ballot vote on Dec. 19. “The members have spoken with 96 percent of the voters backing the contract,” said Local 924 President Kyle Simmons. “We’re very happy with the outcome. Our members agreed with local leaders, who advised our people that the contract is a good deal.”. The vote marks the end of a 15-year struggle. The prolonged on again, off again contract bargaining was rooted in a disagreement over the comptroller’s finding in 2002 [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...]

The Soul of the NYPD: A Rabbi for the Ages

December 19, 2016 // 0 Comments

This piece originally appeared as an editorial in the New York Daily News on Dec. 18.  Rabbi Kass is a member of  DC  37 who has served on the DC 37 Jewish Heritage Committee for many years. Marvel at the collective fortitude and bravery of the NYPD — and then thank a moral force behind the force, slight as ever in his brass-buttoned uniform. For 50 years, Rabbi Dr. Alvin Kass has served as an NYPD chaplain, and is today chief chaplain, leading an interfaith nine-clergy squad that provides constant support and succor to officers assigned to confront the very worst of humanity one day and show up again for work the next. In a ceremony on Friday before the entirety of NYPD officialdom, Commissioner Jimmy O’Neill promoted Kass with an unprecedented-for-a-chaplain third star in recognition of his half-century of service ministering, as all police chaplains do, to officers of all [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...]

Mail Ballot Vote Count for Laborer’s New Contract Set for Dec. 19

December 16, 2016 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Laborers Local 924’s tentative new contract calls for a 5.34 percent pay rate increase and restores benefits taken away by the city after it carried out a 2012 court order for substantial hourly rate increases. The settlement ends a 15-year period in which Laborers worked without a contract. “It has been a long struggle and we are glad the fight is finally over,” Local 924 President Kyle Simmons said. Years of going without a contract put a great economic squeeze on Laborers. With their pay frozen — until the court-ordered increase in 2012— many workers were forced to run up credit card bills and borrow from their pensions to get by. The economic squeeze forced some workers into bankruptcy and even caused marriages to fall apart. The settlement — signed Nov. 15 — restores 11 paid holidays, some vacation days, four bereavement days, and paid jury duty [More...]

Worksite Activists Gear Up for a Busy 2017

December 13, 2016 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO District Council 37’s Organizing Dept. is preparing for the challenges ahead. The department’s focus for 2017 will be to continue developing the union’s presence at worksites and engaging members at agencies throughout the city. During 2016, organizing activists began recruiting volunteers for the union’s new Member Action Teams. “The MAT volunteers are the foundation of this movement that we’re building,” Organizing Director Barbara Terrelonge said. Unlike union shop stewards, MAT volunteers are not elected,  and come from various locals. “This is a grassroots effort and it takes place at the workplace,” Terrelonge said. This year, union organizers recruited volunteers at lunch-time meetings at City University of New York campuses, the Dept. of Education and NYC Health+Hospitals. The organizers held 48 meetings at CUNY, where they conducted [More...]

DC 37 Sets Union Day & Activist Training for 2017

December 8, 2016 // 0 Comments

The DC 37 Organizing Department is jump starting the New Year with a Union Day event and a series of activist training sessions for 2017 to strengthen the power of our collective voice and equip members with the tools necessary to move forward together. Union Day will be held on Jan. 5, 2017, at 9 Metro Tech Center in Brooklyn for DC 37 members who work at the Fire Dept. of New York and the New York City Police Dept. General activist training sessions, scheduled for every month beginning in February 2017, will be held at DC 37 union headquarters. A second session will be scheduled about two weeks after the first session. To register for the training or for more information, call DC 37 Organizing at (212) 815-1095.  “These training sessions and Union Day are part of an effort to strengthen the union from the grassroots,” said Barbara Terrelonge, director of the DC 37 [More...]