New York City Scraps Veolia Contract

May 5, 2016 // 1 Comment

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS In a victory for providers and consumers of public services, city officials say a multi-million dollar contract with a private French conglomerate to manage the city’s 14 waste­water treatment plants will not be renewed. The contract with Veolia, a $27 billion company based in Paris, is set to expire in June. The contract came with a couple of one-year extension options that will not be exercised, city officials told DC 37. Union leaders and privatization oppo­nents hailed the decision. “We are pleased that the city has decided to bring this contract to an end,” said Jim Tucciarelli, president of Sewage Treatment and Senior Sewage Treatment Workers Local 1320, whose members operate the Dept. of Environmental Protection’s wastewater treatment plants and collections facilities. DC 37 locals worked with their national union, AFSCME, and advocacy groups, such [More...]

Juan Gonzalez: Iron Man of the News Room

May 4, 2016 // 1 Comment

By TOM ROBBINS (Editor’s Note: After 29 years as a columnist for the New York Daily News, Juan Gonzalez retired from the paper in April to teach at Rutgers University. He will continue to write an occasional column. We asked his colleague and kindred spirit Tom Robbins, a recent Pulitzer Prize finalist for his coverage of violence in New York’s prisons, to reflect on Gonzalez’s contributions to our city and to the craft of journalism.) In the fall of 1987, Juan Gonzalez came up to New York from Philadelphia where he had been working as a reporter for a few years. He came at the invitation of an old editor, F. Gillman Spencer III. The son of one of Philadelphia’s wealthy Main Line families, Spencer was a true traitor to his class. As editor at the Philadelphia Daily News, he had loved the way Gonzalez, a former street organizer from East Harlem and East New York by way of Ponce, [More...]

Retiree Activist Loses Home in Fire

April 29, 2016 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO For 30 years, Sallie Robertson worked a busy Brooklyn intersection as a Local 372 School Crossing Guard helping the students from St. Francis of Assisi Elementary School cross Nostrand Avenue. Robertson, now a DC 37 retiree long active in union campaigns, was highly regarded by the parents, teachers and students from the school. When she retired in June 2008, the Midwood Block Association held a farewell party in her honor. Robertson has enjoyed her retirement, spending time with her grandchildren and volunteering with the union’s Retirees Association. But on March 29, while doing laundry in her home in St. Albans, Queens, a spark ignited in her dryer and started a serious fire. Robertson, her aunt and grandchildren quickly left the house as the fire spread to the main floor of her three-story residence. None of them were harmed, but considerable damage was done to [More...]

Union Backs Mayor’s Call for $2 Billion Infusion of New Funds for the City’s Public Hospitals

April 26, 2016 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS In a show of commitment to NYC Health + Hospitals, Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed a $2 billion infusion of aid to stop a financial hemorrhage that for decades has plagued the nation’s largest public health-care system. “We applaud the mayor for his leadership and ongoing commitment to provide and improve vital services for all who live in our city,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido. “Clearly, no service is more vital than health care — and no public health-care system has been more diligent than Health + Hospitals.” The de Blasio administration’s H+H proposal released on April 26 includes $100 million for capital investments, adds $700 million to reduce the H+H’s budget shortfall in 2016, and has land sales and affordable housing tie-ins. It is part of the mayor’s executive budget subject to the City Council’s vote. “Most [More...]

DC 37 Activists Help Clinton Win New York’s Democratic Presidential Primary

April 20, 2016 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO Democratic Party presidential challenger Bernie Saunders filled Washington Square Park and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park with thousands of his supporters who were feeling the Bern, but it was Hillary Clinton who rocked the vote in the primary election, winning a decisive victory over the senator from Vermont. Clinton received 58 percent of the vote while Sanders received 42 percent. “Our path has just gotten clearer,” said the former U.S. senator and secretary of state, in her victory speech as the polls were closing in the April 19 New York primary election. With five more primary elections to be held before primary season ends on June 7, Clinton now has two thirds of the pledged delegates. A total of 2,383 delegates are needed to secure the nomination. With her path to the Democratic Party nomination almost certain, Clinton reached out to Saunders supporters [More...]

Health Advocates Demand More State and Federal Funding for Public Hospitals

April 18, 2016 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO DC 37 leaders joined health care activists and Public Advocate Letitia James, City Council member Vanessa Gibson and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer to demand the federal and state governments provide more funding for the city’s cash strapped network of public hospitals. NYC Health + Hospitals face a $2 billion deficit in 2019. “Our state and federal government must do their part to ensure New Yorkers access to high quality comprehensive health care,” said Brewer during a press conference April 14 in front of City Hall. The activists also cautioned against any attempts by the city to resolve the hospital’s budget crisis by privatizing services. “Privatizing these desperately needed resources will not solve our problems,” said James. “And it has proven to cost taxpayers more money.” Ralph Palladino, 2nd VP of Local 1549 and a longtime health [More...]

Bill Clarke Always Delivers

April 17, 2016 // 0 Comments

  By ALFREDO ALVARADO City workers are familiar with employees who anxiously wait for that special date when they’ll retire. They count the days left and announce it to anyone who will listen and have the date circled on their calendar. Bill Clark has been on the job since 1959, turned 76 on Feb.10 but doesn’t mention retirement. For almost six decades he’s worked as a Loader and Handler for the Dept. of Education, delivering meals and kitchen supplies all over the city to make sure hungry school children are feed. Williams leaves his Bronx apartment every morning before dawn when it’s pitch black for the train ride to the industrial section of Long Island City in Queens to DOE headquarters. He joins a crew of 20 Loaders and Handlers to start loading the trucks at 6 a.m. then hit the road to make their deliveries. Given his seniority, the 76-year-old Clark could stay in a [More...]

New York City’s Retirement System Pulls Out of Hedge Funds

April 14, 2016 // 0 Comments

After months of urging by District Council 37 and others, the New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS) voted today to pull its hedge fund investments, now totaling more than $1.4 billion. DC 37 Executive Director and NYCERS trustee Henry Garrido introduced the resolution to divest, noting the funds charge enormous fees for high-risk investments yet yield tepid results. “As stewards of the retirement security of public employees of modest means, our role is not to facilitate luxury purchases for high-rolling hedge fund managers,” Garrido said. “It is incumbent upon the trustees to ensure that the pension funds are invested securely and responsibly. Today, we took a necessary step to do just that.” The NYCERS vote follows similar actions to pull hedge fund investments by pension funds in California and Illinois. An American Federation of Teachers analysis of 11 [More...]

A Call to Close the Gender Wage Gap

April 13, 2016 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS DC 37 joined Public Advocate Leticia James, City Comptroller Scott Stringer and the advocacy group PowHer New York at the 10th annual Equal Pay Day rally at City Hall on Tuesday April 12. Supporting equal pay for women was soccer champion Megan Rapinoe, who filed a complaint against the U.S. Soccer Federation for wage discrimination. Even as the women’s team won the World Cup, the league pays female players one-fourth what male soccer players earn. “We’re demanding economic justice because women are still in the red,” said Powher New York leader Beverly Neufeld. She and City Council members Laurie Combo and Helen Rosenthal sponsored the rally. In April, New York state lawmakers passed nine bills that help women, including equal pay, paid parental leave — which was first proposed in 1999 — and the $15 minimum wage. “These are all pieces of the puzzle [More...]

Hillary Clinton for President

April 13, 2016 // 1 Comment

We urge our members and retirees to cast their vote for Hillary Clinton in the April 19 Democratic primary in New York. Clinton is arguably the most qualified candidate for U.S. President in modern times. Throughout her long career in public service, she has always been a stalwart friend of labor, including our union. We do appreciate the personal integrity of Clinton’s opponent in the Democratic race, Sen. Bernie Sanders. His deep commitment to working people is unwavering. We credit him with putting economic inequality at the center of our national political discourse. But we believe Clinton is the stronger candidate because of her greater experience and electability. In their debates, Clinton and Sanders have engaged in a substantive and civil discussion of such issues as tax fairness, health care, the minimum wage, Social Security and U.S. military intervention in the Middle East. [More...]