Save big with generic drugs

March 8, 2016 // 1 Comment

By GREGORY N. HEIRES The DC 37 Health & Security Plan instituted its generic-based prescription drug program two decades ago in response to the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs. Today, about 80 percent of the prescriptions covered by the plan are for generics. Over the years, as members have become more comfortable about using generic drugs, the greater usage of generics has helped the plan save millions of dollars. Still, with 20 percent of the prescriptions covering brand-name drugs, there is room for improvement. Despite the plan’s steps to control costs, drugs continue to eat up a growing portion of money that funds all of the plan’s benefits, which include education, counselling, vision, legal, podiatry, and dental services. Some members are under the mistaken belief that their dues fund their benefits. That is not true: the employer funds the benefits. Searching [More...]

Rally for a new contract and decent funding at CUNY on March 10

March 3, 2016 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES DC 37 will join community activists at a rally on March 10 to call for full funding and a fair contract for union members at the City University of New York. Please sign up TODAY for this important event. Protesters will gather at 5 p.m. outside Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Manhattan Office at 633 Third Ave. between 40th and 41st streets. Demonstrators will march from the governor’s office to the nearby Community Church of New York (40 East 35th St.), where the CUNY crisis and future action will be discussed. The rally is sponsored by the CUNY Rising Alliance, a coalition of community groups, civil rights organizations and non-profits. Currently, DC 37 is pressing the New York State Legislature to reject a $485 million cut in CUNY funding under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed executive budget. If approved, the plan would shift the responsibility for $485 [More...]

Update: DC 37 organizing meetings set for March

March 1, 2016 // 0 Comments

  The DC 37 Organizing Dept. is hosting a series of work site meetings in March to inform members about their many union benefits. The meetings begin at noon and last until 2 p.m., unless otherwise noted below. The meetings will be at City University of New York and NYC Health + Hospitals worksites. “These meetings are part of an effort to strengthen the union from the grassroots,” said Barbara Terrelonge, director of the DC 37 Organizing Dept. “With more active members, our union will be stronger, whether that involves our involvement in a contract fight, political activities or protecting coworkers in the workplace.” Come join us and get to know your union. Below is the meeting schedule. City University of New York lunch time meetings: March 4 @ College of Staten Island, (Green Dolphin Lounge) March 7 @ John Jay College of Criminal Justice, (Student Dining Hall E) [More...]

Excessive prices wallop union prescription drug plan

February 29, 2016 // 0 Comments

  By GREGORY N. HEIRES Years ago, the union’s dental benefit accounted for the greatest portion of the DC 37 Health & Security Plan’s budget. But today, the prescription drug benefit gobbles up nearly 80 percent of the plan’s annual spending, leaving fewer funds for other benefits, such dental, and vision and podiatry services. The relentless price increases of the unregulated drug industry now threaten to exhaust the plan’s reserves. “Prescription drugs are really hammering us,” said the plan’s administrator, Willie Chang. “We are exploring ways to improve the financial health of the drug benefit and how to protect it.” Earlier this year, the plan withdrew $10 million from its reserves in order to pay for the soaring cost of prescription drugs. It anticipates using at least $20 million more from the reserve before the end [More...]

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...]