Union Sets Its Agenda at Legislative Conference

October 31, 2016 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO The financial crisis at NYC Health + Hospitals, reducing the number of provisional employees and educating members about the proposed constitutional convention vote, which will be on the ballot in Nov. 2017, were the top priorities laid out by  Executive Director Henry Garrido at the union’s 41st annual Legislative Conference. The Oct. 29 conference, organized by the DC 37 Political Action and Legislation Dept., bought together union leaders and invited speakers Dawn M. Pinnock, deputy commissioner of the Dept. of Citywide Administrative Services, and state Sen. Gustavo Rivera to begin addressing these critical issues. 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 [More...]

The Supreme Court and the 2016 Presidential Election

October 28, 2016 // 0 Comments

Over time, replacing Justic Antonin Scalia with a justice that is less of a right-wing ideologue has the potential to reshape many areas of American law — and, in particular, much of the law surrounding the rights and lives of working people. By KENNETH QUINNELL The 2016 election could end up being one of the most important elections in terms of shaping the U.S. Supreme Court in American history. After Justice Antonin Scalia’s death earlier this year, Republicans in the U.S. Senate stalled President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland. As of the beginning of the next president’s term, three of the nine justices will be older than 80. Another will be 78. It is possibile the next president could appoint a majority to the court. Over time, replacing Scalia with a justice that is less of a right-wing ideologue has the potential to reshape many areas of American law — and, [More...]

Workers Honored for Transforming Crotona Park in the Bronx

October 27, 2016 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS The Parks Dept. honored 15 City Parks Workers and City Seasonal Aides in Local 1505 as employees of the month last August. “These members took Crotona Park from trashy to classy as they implemented a six-month trash management pilot program that transformed the South Bronx park,” said President Dilcy Benn. Crotona Park spans over 127 acres. Parks workers maintain its outdoor pool, tennis and basketball courts, grills, stone footbridges, baseball and soccer fields, expansive lake and ampitheater. This year the Crotona Park crews set out to keep the grounds extra clean and engage the community through outreach and education. The Local 1505 members  provide round-the-clock safety, cleanup and trash removal, and mow and maintain the verdant park that is a backyard for many Bronx residents. Crew chief Vincent Towles said, “We let the residents know we’re here, [More...]

DC 37 Activists Visit Philadelphia to Get-Out-the-Vote for Clinton

October 24, 2016 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO National polls are showing Hillary Clinton pulling away in her race for the White House by as many as a dozen points. But the former secretary of state and her union supporters are taking nothing for granted. Clinton reached out to voters in Raleigh, N.C., over the weekend while DC 37 activists joined a get-out-vote blitz to make sure she wins in Pennsylvania, where DC 37’s parent union–the American Federation of State and County Employees–is carrying a major GOTV campaign. Two busloads of activists from District Council 37 left their union headquarters in lower Manhattan early Saturday morning and headed for Philadelphia for a day of knocking on doors to make sure everyone gets to the polls on Nov. 8. After two hours on the road, the buses pulled into the parking lot of the Working America headquarters on Germantown Avenue. Working America is a [More...]

Open Enrollment for health plans is underway

October 21, 2016 // 0 Comments

Don’t like your health care plan? The time to switch your coverage is underway. For city employees, the fall transfer period of the city’s Health Benefits Program runs from Oct. 22 to Nov. 11. The transfer period for retirees is from Nov.1 to Nov. 30. The change is effective on Jan. 1, 2017, for retirees and in the first payroll period of the month for members. If you want to switch plans, you should visit the Office of Labor Relations section on the city’s website at nyc.gov/hbp. In addition to general information about the New York City Health Benefits Program, the OLR site has a form you need to process for your change in health-care coverage. City employees have the opportunity to change their plan every year during the fall open enrollment period. With a one-time exception, retirees may only change their plans during even-numbered years. The open enrollment period for the [More...]

MELS: A Pioneering Union Law Firm

October 18, 2016 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO Sept. 15 marked the 39th anniversary of the Municipal Employees Legal Services, one of District Council 37’s most successful programs. Established in 1977, MELS is one of the few pre-paid legal services offered to union members in the country. “When DC 37 started, I thought more unions would follow suit,” said MELS Chief Counsel and Director Joan Beranbaum, who was one of the first attorneys hired by MELS. “But that hasn’t been the case.” After starting as a pilot program, MELS is still going strong, offering eligible union members free legal services to assist them in a variety of issues from help with filing for a divorce, writing a will and becoming a citizen. The plan does not handle criminal cases. Members who are going up against an unscrupulous landlord can get assistance and be represented by a MELS attorney in Housing Court. Buying a home for [More...]

Gold Medal Parents: Union Family Values Spur Olympic Glory

October 12, 2016 // 0 Comments

By MIKE LEE During the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Dalilah Muhammad, a long-time resident of Rochdale, Queens, became the first American woman to win the 400-meter hurdles in a dramatic race, held during a driving rainstorm at Olympic Stadium. Muhammad led from the first hurdle and finished for the gold medal at 53.1 seconds. Her victory came on the heels of a series of championship victories, several after coming back from an injury last year. Her determination to achieve this track and field accomplishment acts as an inspiration for anyone with a wish and a goal in mind. Upon her return home, Dalilah was honored in a parade in Southeast Queens. On Sept. 12, at Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens, Dalilah was recognized along with three other Olympians from the borough. In her speech thanking Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and other dignitaries for the award, Dalilah [More...]

Chaplains Win a Step-Pay Plan in New Deal

October 11, 2016 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Local 299 successfully negotiated with the city to use the additional compensation fund – established under the 2010-17 contract – to improve the step-pay plan of nearly 100 Chaplains. In parallel discussions, the union won a one-time 8 percent raise above the annual contractual hikes for supervising Chaplains, who will soon have a new civil service title. Until now, Chaplains who took on supervisory duties were promoted to an in-house title that reflected their additional responsibilities but without providing extra pay. “The lack of recognition of our Administrative Chaplains has been a long-standing sore point that the union and management were never able to fix,” Local 299 President Jackie Rowe-Adams said. “The positive tone of negotiations over the additional compensation created a climate that allowed us to finally resolve this [More...]

Community Health Liaison Worker at NYC H+H Wins $13,500 in Out-of-Title Grievances

October 7, 2016 // 0 Comments

By MIKE LEE For more than 12 years, SSEU Local 371 member Denise Kittrell has worked for NYC Health+Hospitals as a Community Liaison Worker I at the Sydenham Health Center in Harlem. Beginning in 2012, management began assigning out-of-title duties to Kittrell. Management mandated that she perform HIV swab testing and counseling, thus blurring the lines of her position and egregiously increasing her workload. Ms. Kittrell filed a grievance, and the union successfully won her $3,500, as well as a cease-and-desist order prohibiting NYC H+H from assigning Kittrell duties beyond her community liaison work. As they say, some people don’t listen and in this case, the exploitation of Kittrell’s hard work at the Sydenham Health Center continued. Management ignored the initial decision, and immediately ordered Kittrell to again perform HIV swab testing and counseling. Within a month, in [More...]

Building Labor’s Fortress

October 7, 2016 // 0 Comments

While union membership declined nationwide in the last 15 years, New York City has seen a growth of organized workers that is already showing a positive impact on city and state politics. This resurgence of city unions is discussed in the annual report, “State of the Unions: 2016,” published by the Murphy Institute at the City University of New York. In their research, the authors of the annual report, Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce, found that the organized workforce in New York City has increased significantly, from 21.5 percent to 25.5 percent since 2012. The authors attribute the growth to the recovery of construction and hospitality industries that took a direct hit in the economic crisis 0f 2008. But there are also several other factors that have bolstered union power in the city. A major contribution has been the Fight for $15 movement, which DC 37 has been a part of since [More...]