Backed by DC 37, Salamanca wins Bronx City Council race

February 25, 2016 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO Rafael Salamanca won his special election on Feb. 23 to represent the 17th district in the City Council. Endorsed by DC 37, Salamanca defeated five candidates and received 40 percent of the vote. Salamanca, whose district includes Hunts Point, Longwood and Morrisania in the South Bronx, was endorsed by DC 37 at a press conference in January. “We trust he will be a champion for working people in the City Council,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido at the press conference. During his victory speech, Salamanca announced that his first priority is to reach out to residents of the New York City Housing Authority. “I’m going to visit those same developments I was visiting to get out the vote, to get those elevators fixed and the garbage removed. Those are a major concern for me and then bring that information to NYCHA,” Salamanca said. An experienced [More...]

Free tax preparation available for DC 37 members

February 23, 2016 // 0 Comments

Through the Free Tax Preparation program, DC 37 helped over 4,000 members in 2015 get $10 million in refunds FREE. This year, DC 37 is again partnering with Food Bank, which operates centers (each with a professional tax preparer) in all five boroughs, near members’ workplaces, homes or transportation hubs. For details, call 311 or click here. For a map of locations, click here. To qualify for FREE tax preparation and electronic filing: A person with dependent children must have earned less than $53,000 total family income, including spouse income. A person with no children must have earned less than $20,000 total family income, including spouse income. FREE self-preparation option: For filers with incomes up to $60,000, regardless of family size, FREE self-preparation with electronic filing and back up assistance is available at certain New York Public Library [More...]

Black History Month Finale to feature two showings of “Mandela”

February 19, 2016 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Join the DC 37 Black History Committee for the Black History Month special finale at union headquarters – a presentation of the play “Mandela” celebrating the 25th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s historic visit to New York City. Because of high demand for tickets, the committee decided to schedule a second show at 4 p.m. To reserve tickets for the 4 p.m. show, click here or call 718-930-0175 and leave a message. “Mandela,” written, produced and directed by two public employees, had a limited run in July to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Mandela’s three-day visit to New York. About five years ago Yolanda Brooks caught a bug, the theater bug, and with retired Firefighter John Ruiz she honed their mutual admiration for Nelson Mandela into a play about the freedom fighter’s historic 1990 visit to New York City. By day, the Public [More...]

Taking Big Pharma to Court

February 17, 2016 // 0 Comments

  The cost of brand prescription drugs is going up eight times faster than the general inflation rate. Some generic manufacturers started increasing the price of generic drugs by triple digits. Why is the cost of drugs going up so fast? The answer is simple: because the pharmaceutical companies think they can charge whatever they want to for drugs. But they’re wrong: Many engage in illegal practices that cost you and union benefit plans billions of dollars – and now they are being held accountable. To address these abuses, the DC 37 Health and Security Plan, which oversees the union’s popular prescription drug benefit, participates in nation wide class action litigation against the drug manufacturers that engage in unlawful practices. For instance: • Our plan sued a drug wholesaler that unlawfully inflated the price of many brand drugs. This suit settled for [More...]

The Big Pharma rip-off

February 12, 2016 // 0 Comments

  By HENRY GARRIDO Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO Americans don’t like Big Pharma. And there’s a good reason for that. Earlier this year, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 70 percent of Americans believe prescription drug prices are excessive. We also feel that way at the union, where the DC 37 Health and Security Plan has struggled to maintain our popular prescription drug benefit in the face of skyrocketing costs. Big Pharma suffered a public relations blow in September, when the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals announced a 5,000 percent price hike of Daraprim, a drug used to treat a parasitic infection affecting people with AIDS and some cancers. The tone-deaf CEO of Turing, Martin Shkreli, a former hedge fund manager, said he would cancel the increase after a consumer backlash. But so far the company has only announced it has set up a savings [More...]

CUNY under attack

February 10, 2016 // 0 Comments

By HENRY GARRIDO Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a state budget that would essentially starve the City University of New York. He proposes to have the state slash nearly $500 million in state funding for CUNY. Even before the governor spelled out his proposal in early January, CUNY was struggling with reduced state funding and had been forced to drop courses, cut laboratory supplies, take money out of student services, raise tuition and slash spending on adjunct professors. The governor’s proposal comes on top of his December veto of a bill that would have provided millions of dollars from Albany to help CUNY recover from the deep cuts of the Great Recession that began in 2008. That bipartisan bill would have also covered retroactive pay for our 10,000 members at CUNY and the faculty. DC 37 members and members of the [More...]

DC 37 urges Albany legislators to restore CUNY budget cuts and fund new contracts

February 9, 2016 // 0 Comments

By MIKE LEE At a news conference at the state capitol in Albany on Feb. 8, DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido, along with other union leaders and state legislators, called on the state Legislature to increase funding for the City University of New York. “If you believe that higher education is a priority then you are going to have to fund it in the proper way,” said Garrido at the news conference. “We believe that is a priority for not only who we represent, but also for the people in our communities who otherwise have no other opportunities to advance themselves.” In his proposed budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo shifts nearly $500 million in CUNY funding from the state to the city. DC 37 wants those funds restored in the budget in part because the cost shifting would impose in a new financial burden of the city. The union and other CUNY supporters also want to stop a $300 tuition [More...]

DC 37 demands full funding for CUNY

February 8, 2016 // 1 Comment

DC 37 members and leaders traveled to Albany today to call upon state legislators to provide full funding for the City University of New York. The union has also launched a petition drive asking signers to Tell Gov. Cuomo to Properly Fund CUNY. In January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo released his budget for 2016-17, which calls for shifting $485 million in funding for CUNY from the state to New York City, a change opposed by the union. DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido is scheduled to testify in the late afternoon about CUNY funding before the Assembly and Senate higher education committees, the Assembly Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. The following is Garrido’s prepared testimony: Good afternoon.  My name is Henry Garrido.  I’m the Executive Director of District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO.  I represent 122,000 dedicated public employees including [More...]

Union wins fight to gain new members at the School Construction Authority

February 5, 2016 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N.  HEIRES Forty-five professional and technical workers will be hired at the School Construction Authority thanks to an agreement between the union and the SCA. The agreement was reached because of a lawsuit filed by the Civil Service Technical Employees Guild Local 375 a year ago to force the SCA to meet its legal obligation to assign 40 percent of its design, drafting and inspection work to in-house staff. “The SCA’s failure to meet the 40 percent law has been a sore spot in our relationship with management for years,” Local 375 President Claude Fort said. “We are very happy to have reached a settlement. But it did take the lawsuit to get us here.” In the past, Local 375 had trouble tracking whether the SCA had met the 40 percent law since the authority’s reports on the breakdown of its staffing of in-house and contract workers were unclear and — to the more [More...]

First responders get support

February 3, 2016 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO Anyone convicted of assaulting the brave men and women who work as Emergency Medical Technicians or Paramedics will now be facing a stiff seven-year prison sentence. Most New Yorkers appreciate the valuable service they provide as first responders, but EMTs and Paramedics have increasingly been victims of assaults, often from the people they are trying to save. A recent study, published by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found that Paramedics had significantly higher odds of patient-initiated violence than Firefighters. Female EMTs reported higher odds of patient-initiated violence injuries than their male counterparts, and many of these attacks go unreported. EMT Betty Higdon and her partner responded to an emergency call and were taking a man to the hospital when he suddenly attacked her. “He punched me in the head, grabbed me by the neck and then [More...]