New York City Leads Labor’s Resurgence

July 15, 2016 // 1 Comment

By VINCENT ALVAREZ New York City is a union town. It’s a chant heard at labor rallies all over the city, and it’s true – New York City was built and is continuing to be supported by unionized labor. While the classic image of a union member is a construction worker or a teacher, New York City’s labor movement is the most diverse and varied in the world. We are musicians, doctors, operating engineers, ironworkers, and of course dedicated public employees. Since the inception of the labor movement, it has been understood that a union job is a career that leads to the promise of economic stability, family-sustaining wages and benefits, and protection against unscrupulous employers. This still rings true, but the labor movement must work harder than ever to maintain these valuable tools for working people. The last 35 years have been challenging for the national labor movement. The [More...]

Parks Hero Saves Woman

July 14, 2016 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Parks Supervisor Larry Kalman was inspecting the fishing pier at Midland Beach, when a fellow Parks Dept. employee pointed to a woman walking out on the jetty. “She’s going to kill herself,” thought Kalman, a Local 1508 member who works in District 2 of the Dept. of Parks and Recreation Supervisor on Staten Island. Kalman jumped over the pier’s 4-foot railing into the sand, about a 6-foot drop, and started to go toward her. “I asked her was she OK? She yelled ‘F— off! I hate my life!’” On the morning of April 19, the distraught woman stormed to the end of the jetty and jumped. “She went under several feet,” Kalman said, “The water was dark and choppy” — a bone-chilling 45 degrees. “Suddenly she popped up. I reached for her and grabbed her arm. She gasped for air.” “I held on, but she fought back,” Kalman said. She screamed, [More...]

Union Pensions Are Key to the Security of Working People

July 14, 2016 // 0 Comments

By RAYMOND SANTANDER There is perhaps no greater benefit provided to union members than retirement security, which comes in the form of a defined benefit pension. Members receive the defined benefit, a traditional pension based on their years of service that provides a guaranteed monthy payment, when they retire after many years of dedicated public service — often a hazardous and physically (and emotionally) taxing service. The pension ensures our members a dignified retirement, where the pensioner need not be a burden to the public or a family member. Our retirees pension benefits are modest: about $21,000 to $22,000 per year on average (higher for more recent retirees). With Social Security, many of our retirees have retirement income of about $33,000 per year. This is hardly lavish, given that many of our retirees live in New York City. Our members both contribute their hard-earned [More...]

Queens Public Library – 100% Union!

July 14, 2016 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES The Queens Public Library is now wall-to-wall union. On June 6, Queens Library Guild Local 1321 President John Hyslop presented DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido with the last two membership cards the local needed to represent 100 percent of the workers eligible for membership. For months, Hyslop, Local 1321 Executive Vice President Margaret Gibson and other executive board members worked with union reps Cynthia Keyes-Padilla and Leo Morris to enroll members at the library’s 62 sites. “This was a great way to meet and talk with members, who we found were generally very supportive of the union’s mission,” Hyslop said. “What we learned will help us be more responsive to members’ needs.” Chris Wilgenkamp, director of technology and membership services, said the Local 1321 drive reflects precisely what the union hopes to accomplish with its DC [More...]

Workers Vote 100% to Join DC 37

July 13, 2016 // 0 Comments

By MOLLY CHARBONEAU Youth Care Workers at the Children’s Village on Staten Island voted overwhelmingly in May—despite management intimidation—to be represented by District Council 37. The resounding vote came after six months of workplace organizing. “Management didn’t respect or support the workforce,” said Donald Holton, the worker who contacted DC 37 to inquire about joining the union. “We wanted a fair shot with management and a a union to represent us,” Holton said. “So we let our fingers do the talking, and they got the point.” “Everyone knew we needed a union,” said Kiena Hicklen, another worker organizer, “but we didn’t know if we would be retaliated against by management, so it took some time.” The Children’s Village is a large nonprofit under contract with the Administration for Children’s Services and New York State’s Office of Children and [More...]

Union Family Buys New Home Through DC 37’s Municipal Employees Housing Program

July 13, 2016 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Ray Cabezas, owns a detached two-story house in a quiet Staten Island neighborhood thanks to his union.  He learned that DC 37 offered a chance at home ownership through its Municipal Employees Housing Program while at a Local 376 general membership meeting. “I was looking for a house when I heard about the union’s affordable housing program,” Cabezas said. A new Assistant Highway Repairer, Cabezas tapped his pension to make his dream of home ownership a reality. With help from MEHP, Cabezas invested in his family’s future and purchased their first home. “I was paying over $1,200 a month for an apartment I had lived in for 25 years. Back then my rent was just $575 a month. Rents will always rise, so I felt it was time to buy,” said Cabezas. “We had a bidding war with eight other interested buyers, but because MEHP had our mortgage pre-approved, the [More...]

The Night Shift

July 12, 2016 // 0 Comments

Lt. Frank Borello, EMS Lieutenant Local 3621 Photo: Clarence Elie-Rivera I would tell any person considering a career with Emergency Medical Services that it’s a great job because you have an opportunity to impact someone’s life in a positive way. I’ve helped deliver 13 babies, intervened with people having cardiac arrest and diabetic emergencies. It’s such a rewarding experience. One time a man was having a massive stroke. He couldn’t move the right side of his body and was having trouble speaking. He was combative and in denial. But that happens often. People have the right to make that decision and refuse to be taken to the hospital. It’s unpredictable what might happen when you show up. But his wife was with him, so she convinced him to let us take him to the hospital. He’s a business owner and one of his employees noticed he was acting strange and called 911. I spent [More...]

The Night Shift

July 11, 2016 // 0 Comments

Leslie Hurd, Computer Associate Level 3 Local 2627 Photo: Clarence Elie-Rivera I started working for the hospital system in 1978 at the central office in Manhattan. It was a good time to get the job. My kids were young, and working at night made it easier for me to help my wife. I still work for the central office, but I am now at its corporate data center at Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx. They were setting up the computer system at the time I came to work here. We had to teach the staff how to use the computer to input patient information and discharge them. Everything prior to that was done manually. We take care of the payroll system and we also do W-2 cards. We process and print the paychecks, which are sent downtown to be sorted out. You are talking about close to 30,000 checks! We have used the same IBM 4000 mainframe for 30 years. It’s obsolete. We are always the last to [More...]

The Night Shift

July 9, 2016 // 0 Comments

Denise Figueroa, Interpreter Local 1070 Photo: Clarence Elie-Rivera As a Night Court Interpreter in Bronx County Criminal Court Arraignments. I translate for persons of interest who have a language barrier so they understand the system. For nearly 28 years, I’ve been the link between the justice system and non-English speaking litigants. Since 2012, I’ve worked in Night Court — each borough has one. As a Spanish Interpreter, I assist by translating for people arrested for domestic violence, jumping the subway turnstile, traffic infractions, homicide, and other crimes. They must be arraigned within 24 hours. I don’t just assist arrested people; I translate for their family members, the police, Corrections Officers, the district attorney, lawyers, court officers, court reporters, clerks and the judge. My work helps them understand court proceedings, search warrants, orders of [More...]

Breakthrough on CUNY and EMS Contracts

July 8, 2016 // 0 Comments

This summer, thousands of DC 37 members will vote on two contracts that call for a pay increase of more than 10 percent. The union concluded negotiations for the tentative agreements —which cover more than 3,000 Emergency Medical Service workers and 12,000 DC 37 members at the City University of New York — in early June. Contract talks had stalled during the administration of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and continued to run into roadblock after roadblock before we were finally able to return to the bargaining table earlier this year to negotiate in earnest. I want to extend my thanks to CUNY and EMS workers for their patience as we negotiated these wage pacts. Member involvement and activism were key to the agreement we reached with CUNY. Members rallied, signed petitions and organized in the workplace. That level of engagement kept the pressure on. The contracts are modeled [More...]