Union Benefit Fund Takes on Big Pharma

March 19, 2018 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES As pharmaceutical companies continue their rampant hikes of drug prices and ignore the dangers of their products, DC 37 and other unions’ benefit funds, states, counties and cities are turning to the courts to level the field for our members and the public at large. In recent months, DC 37’s Health & Security Plan has filed 18 lawsuits against the generic drug industry for illegal practices and price gouging. The skyrocketing cost of these drugs flies in the face of the supposed purpose of generic companies, which is to offer less expensive alternatives to brand-name drugs. These lawsuits contend that generic manufacturers conspired to artificially inflate prices in violation of federal and state law. Taking Big Pharma to court over opioids The union is also part of a separate lawsuit filed in December that seeks damages from opioid manufacturers and [More...]

Need Help? Contact the Union’s Personal Service Unit

March 11, 2018 // 0 Comments

DC 37’s Personal Service Unit is a professionally trained social work staff can help with emotional and family concerns, alcoholism, drug abuse, health prob­­lems and adjustment to retirement. Short-term individual and group counseling and referrals are available. Call 212-815-1260 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a screening evaluation. Below are programs and support groups offered by PSU: Are you coping with a chronic illlness? Join a two-session workshop in April Do you have high blood pressure? Asthma? Diabetes? The Personal Service Unit of DC 37’s Health and Security Plan is running a two-session workshop on April 11 and April 18. This workshop will focus on a productive discussion on accepting and coping with chronic illnesses. You will learn about lifestyle tools to encourage healthy management of your chronic illness. Expect useful exercises such as mindful breathing, guided [More...]

DC 37 Annuity Fund Shows Strong Growth

August 25, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Since its inception, the District Council 37 AFSCME Annuity Fund has grown annually by nearly 6 percent. “The annuity is a painless and cost-effective way to save for retirement,” said Audrey Browne, the associate administrator and counsel at the DC 37 Health & Security Plan, which oversees the annuity. The annuity was established in 1999 after DC 37 won the optional benefit in an economic agreement. Each DC 37 member from a local that opted to participate received a $522 one-time contribution from the city for the annuity. The $522 in seed money for individual accounts has grown to $1,467 since 1999. The annual interest rate of the fund is at a healthy 5.99 percent. In July, investors in U.S. Treasury notes and bonds could count on a 1.99 percent in earnings over 10 years, according to the website of the financial services company Edward P. Jones & Co., [More...]

Union Adopts Changes at Health Care Centers

June 27, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Beginning in July, the DC 37 health centers in Manhattan and Brooklyn will no longer provide podiatry services. In addition, the vision services in the Manhattan center will no longer be provided. Members and retirees must now get their optical care through the Health & Security Plan’s optical provider network or their own physician. For podiatry care, members and retirees should visit physicians who are on their insurance company’s network of podiatrists. The closings of the podiatry and vision offices at the health centers are part of H & S’s long-term plan to control costs in the face of the skyrocketing pharmaceutical prices. To secure the financial health of the drug and other benefits, the plan raised co-pays at the beginning of the year, and the union later negotiated with the city to provide an additional $200 in permanent funding for each [More...]

DC 37 Establishes a Workforce Development Program with Medgar Evers College

August 15, 2016 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO District Council 37 and Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn have agreed to collaborate and develop courses to help union members become better prepared to compete for job promotions and advance in their careers. With one-third of the municipal workforce expected to retire in a few years, DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido wants to make sure that union members are ready to compete for the best jobs that city government has to offer. The new Leadership Preparedness Program, an initiative by the union and Medgar Evers College, aims to address the wave of retirements and the challenges it poses to the city, Garrido said. “Together we expect to create courses that will help develop a well-educated and capable municipal workforce,” Garrido. Garrido wanted to make the courses available to the thousands of union members who live and work and Brooklyn. The main campus of [More...]

Housing Program Makes DC 37 “The Best Union Ever!”

July 21, 2016 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS “I was tired of renting an apartment that only made the rich richer, while I kept getting poorer,” said School Coordinator Robert Cameron. The Local 372 member didn’t think he could ever afford to buy, though he read in the Public Employee Press stories about union members who did. “I would daydream that one day I’d own,” said the 30-year Dept. of Education veteran. “But I don’t make a $90,000 or $100,000 a year salary.” “At an MEHP seminar, I heard the director Ruth Pena say, ‘Ownership is possible. I am here to help,’ I knew she was talking to me,” Cameron said. “Ms. Pena walked me through the process step by step. The union’s broad range of services helped me in so many ways. They calculated what I could afford and helped me stick to a budget.” Cameron attended a union housing fair and met MEHP representatives, along with dozens of [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...]

Local 372 Members Vote to Restore and Protect Benefits

July 1, 2016 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO After months of discussions between Local 372, District Council 37 and the city, an agreement was reached on a plan to supplement funding to the local’s depleted Severance Related Fund, restoring prescription drug, optical and dental coverage to the spouses and domestic partners of retired School Crossing Guards, Hourly School Lunch Workers, School Aides & Health Aides. No other part-time employees receive these benefits for their spouses and domestic partners. “We’ve been working since last year to create a way to restore and protect these significant benefits for the families of both current and future retirees,” said Local 372 President Shaun Francois I. The solution agreed upon and presented to the members for their approval was to shift 1.5 percent of their upcoming September wage hike to the fund. Local 372 announced on July 1 that the membership [More...]

DC 37 organizing meetings and trainings set for April

April 7, 2016 // 0 Comments

The DC 37 Organizing Dept. is continuing its series of work site meetings during April to inform members about their many union benefits. The meetings will take place during the hours noted below. The meetings will be at City University of New York and Dept. of Education work sites. The department will also hold two activist training sessions. [More...]

New York City and Municipal Unions Agree to Health-Benefit Changes

March 29, 2016 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Municipal unions and the city agreed to major benefit changes in February under a $3.4 billion plan to hold down health-care costs. The Municipal Labor Committee (MLC), which is comprised of public sector unions in the city and negotiates on health-care matters on their behalf, approved the benefit modification package on Feb. 22. The changes will go into effect July 1. DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido discussed the modifications – a series of co-pay changes – at the Delegates meeting on Feb. 23. Garrido noted that the agreement maintains the quality of the city’s health-care plans and avoids premium contributions. “We remain the only major municipality in the country with free coverage,” Garrido said. In addition to maintaining coverage and avoiding a premium contribution by the members, the agreement calls for the city to make a [More...]