Union Pushes For New Plan on Provisional Workforce

May 11, 2016 // 0 Comments

BY GREGORY N. HEIRES The union is pushing for a new plan to reduce the ranks of provisional employees by moving thousands of them into permanent positions. A high-level union negotiating team is working with the Dept. of Citywide Administrative Services and the Office of Labor Relations to gain job security and civil service status for the workers. DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido said he hopes the plan will be a breakthrough chapter in the city’s long saga of trying to pare down the number of provisional employees on its payroll. The city began this effort after a court ruling known as Long Beach which upheld the civil service rule that restricts municipalities from employing provisional workers for more than nine months. When provisional workers reach that time on the job, local governments are supposed to let them go or move them into permanent positions. “We want to work [More...]

Homeless

May 10, 2016 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Employed and homeless. This is not supposed to occur in the United States, the self-described richest country in the world. But put together a little bad luck, a low-wage job and years of frozen pay, and you have a recipe for falling down. Welcome to Deborah Mars’ world. She lives in a Bronx homeless shelter with her 15-year-old son, Kobie. They became homeless after a friend of Mars’ moved out of the apartment they shared to live on her own. A Custodian Assistant at City College of New York, Mars scratches by on her modest pay, which is less than $15 an hour. What’s more, she earns $150 less than she used to earn until 2011, when she started working during the day and lost her nighttime pay differential. Most of her pay is eaten up by transportation costs, daytime meals and the occasional dinner outside the shelter and school expenses, along with a storage [More...]

Bronx Book Lovers Organize

May 8, 2016 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO Dr. Ilana Breslau, a Senior Psychologist at North Central Bronx Hospital, works with patients dealing with mental health issues. She also leads groups that meet weekly to discuss women’s and substance abuse issues. During her eight years on the job, the Psychologists Local 1189 member has always tried to look for new ways to connect with her patients, sometimes even trying things not suggested in the textbooks she studied while earning her Ph.D. at Fairleigh Dickinson University. An avid reader since she was a child and a member of several book clubs, Breslau decided to start a book club for the patients at the Bronx hospital and last year launched the Outpatient Book Club. Through discussion of the characters and themes in the books, Breslau hoped the participants would relate to shared experiences and feel less isolated. “Reading about universal themes such as [More...]

Trump: A Zero for Working People

May 8, 2016 // 0 Comments

When an erratic billionaire and reality TV star known for bizarre, contradictory utterances, self-pitying victimization and overblown arrogance becomes a presidential candidate, you get a clown dressed as a prince while remaining a clown — a destructive one. A charlatan with a history of questionable business and personal decisions, Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate, lent his name to a fraudulent “university” that burdened its students with debt; filed multiple bankruptcies, leaving debt holders in the lurch, and has compiled, instead of accomplishments, decades of negative press in tabloids and gossip columns. All of this should have ended his campaign on its second day. Instead, Trump rode a tidal wave of anger that now engulfs the Republican Party. His campaign for president is predicated on blame; its central strategy is the art of the attack. He has [More...]

An Appeal For Unity

May 7, 2016 // 0 Comments

Hillary Clinton has virtually ensured her nomination as the Democratic candidate for president. The numbers tell the story: The delegate count after her recent victories in New York, Pennsylvania and other states make her a lock for the nomination. Though Sen. Bernie Sanders probably will not drop out of the primary race before the Democratic convention, we believe the time is now to end the rancor that has split progressives during this election season. After the vote in New York, Clinton appealed to Sanders’ backers. “To all the people who supported Senator Sanders, I believe there is much more that unites us than divides us,” she said. Indeed, both candidates want to curb inequality while supporting unions, creating jobs and reforming Wall Street. Polls currently indicate a quarter of Sanders’ backers say they would never vote for Clinton. Others say they may stay home on [More...]

Fighting For Fair Budgets

May 6, 2016 // 0 Comments

By HENRY GARRIDO Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO As part of a coalition we played an important role in stopping nearly $1 billion in combined cuts in the state budget to the City University of New York and the city’s public hospitals. The fight-back is an example of how we participate in the political process to protect our jobs and the services we provide. The campaign involved demonstrations, lobbying, and social media, including collecting thousands of signatures for an on-line petition. Now that the Albany fight is over, we focus our attention on the city’s budget. We expect a busy couple of months ahead as the City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio work out an agreement on the budget, which should be signed by the end of June. We have a number of priorities for the city’s fiscal 2017 budget that I want to share with you. ● We seek $65 million more [More...]

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...]