economics

Building Political Power

February 9, 2018 // 0 Comments

By HENRY GARRIDO President Donald J. Trump’s tax plan is a dagger aimed at the heart of New York and at working families across the country. Make no mistake, this is also an attack on public employees and the services they provide. By increasing the deficit by more than $1 trillion, the plan is allowing Republicans to argue that the federal government needs to impose deep cuts to programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. These reactionary politicians in Washington, D.C. are dead-set on shredding the country’s safety net. They see this plan as the culmination of a decades-long project to roll back these services. The threat is immediate — and local. For example, here in our city, our public hospitals, already facing deep reductions in federal funding, anticipate additional cuts. Our retirement security is at risk as Republicans target Social Security and Medicare for [More...]

The Worldwide Need to Support Municipal Workers

December 27, 2017 // 0 Comments

By ROSA PANVANELLI Imagine a city with no access to safe water and sanitation, where bins overflow and rubbish piles up. A city without affordable child care or transportation, where children have no safe outdoor public spaces to play in and there are no green parks to enjoy. A city where pavements have cracks and holes, road traffic is a nightmare and pedestrians and cyclists are not safe. Without these, and many other essential urban services, cities collapse, local economies cannot run and inhabitants suffer a lower quality of life. And when people are in trouble, they turn to their closest level of government — their city. After Ecuador’s 2016 devastating earthquake, while national government was still assessing the casualties and damage, municipal workers were already digging through the rubble. Diego Celorio, a water worker in Pedernales, saw people trapped in a car still [More...]

A Progressive Housing Plan

December 8, 2017 // 0 Comments

Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced that the city is on track to build and protect 200,000 affordable homes by 2022 — two years ahead of schedule — and is taking on a new goal of 300,000 affordable apartments by 2026. The city has secured 77,651 affordable homes, enough for more than 200,000 New Yorkers, since de Blasio took office, according to the mayor’s office. The city also boasts more housing for low-income New Yorkers than ever before, and more protections to keep New Yorkers in their homes. “We are building an engine that will keep families in safe, decent and affordable homes for decades to come,” the mayor said. “We will keep this a city for seniors, veterans, working families and the middle class.” All this is welcome news, indeed — and more evidence of the mayor’s focus on making the city livable for all of its residents. Back in January 2014, the mayor [More...]

Want to Get Back to Normal? Strong Unions are Key

December 7, 2017 // 0 Comments

By LEE SAUNDERS Daily flirtations with nuclear war. Suspending freedom of the press. Fifty-nine people executed during a country music concert. Neo-Nazis and white supremacists marching openly in the streets. American citizens begging for their government’s help after a storm wiped their hopes and dreams off the map, only to then be threatened with revocation of that aid because Wall Street wants its money. Foreign powers sabotage our elections; our leaders sabotage our health care because of an ill-conceived campaign promise. Saying “This isn’t normal” has become clichéd, but finding solutions to get us back to normal isn’t yet commonplace. We don’t have to look too far to find those solutions. They are right beneath our feet. At their best, labor unions provide the stability that allows democracy to flourish. When working people organize, they can call out corruption and [More...]

Justice for Dreamers

October 4, 2017 // 0 Comments

By HENRY GARRIDO Many of us were morally outraged by President Donald J. Trump’s decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA protects undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children from deportation and allows them to work and study here. The day after Trump’s Sept. 5 announcement, I joined New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, the attorneys general of Massachusetts and Washington, young immigrants, nonprofit groups and private companies at a press conference to denounce the repeal. At the press conference, Schneiderman announced that he and eleven other state attorneys general would contest the Trump administration in court, charging that the DACA shutdown violated federal executive policy-making rules. Many immigrants understandably felt Trump’s decision to phase out DACA disrespected their community as well as [More...]

DC 37 Gets Ready for Contract Bargaining

September 26, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES The union is preparing to start bargaining with the city for a new economic agreement this fall. Union delegates are expected to vote on demands at their monthly meeting on Sept. 26. The demands will be in part guided by an on-line survey in June of members covered by the union’s master contract. The union’s Negotiating Committee was scheduled to vote on the demands in late August. “We are hoping to enter negotiations in earnest as soon as possible,” DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido said. “We would like to see a quick settlement, but we also know the road to a new contract has historically often been a bumpy one filled with obstacles.” The 2010-17 economic agreement was originally set to expire on July 2. But earlier this year, members voted overwhelmingly to extend the economic agreement to Sept. 25 to help the union’s welfare plan shore up its [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...]

Why Unions Matter for Everybody

July 10, 2017 // 0 Comments

By ELAINE BERNARD The decline in strength, density and influence of the labor movement must be a concern for all of us — whether we are union members or not. It has led to stagnating and declining wages and benefits of workers, undermining the entire community. So let’s look a little closer at what unions do, for members, for employers and for the entire community. When union workers talk about the benefit of their union, they think of a wide variety of rights, services and benefits that the union offers: job security, salary protection, paid vacation, the promotion of consistent and fair treatment; a voice in scheduling; recognition and a premium for overtime; a say in hiring and promotion; a united voice in dealing with the employer; an impartial process for resolving complaints; protection against unfair treatment; a role in setting and enforcing occupation health and safety [More...]

Public Employee Pensions Divest From Private Prisons

June 8, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES New York City has become the first municipality in the nation whose public pension system has divested from private prisons. The divestment comes as President Donald Trump plans to use private prisons to warehouse immigrants facing deportation. Trump received $500,000 in campaign contributions the two largest for-profit prison companies in the industry, GEO Group and CoreCivic. “Divesting is simply the right thing to do — financially and morally,” said city Comptroller Scott Stringer when he announced the divestiture at a news conference today. The city’s five public employee pension systems voted to divest from the industry in mid-May. Since then, the Comptroller’s Office and the pension funds have sold $48 million in stocks and bonds of three private prisons companies, GEO Group, CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corp. of American) and G4S. “For years, [More...]

Fighting Big Pharma

May 10, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Administrators of the union’s welfare plan are mounting a new legal offensive to keep the rising costs of generic drugs in check. If successful, the court cases would help “correct widespread corrupt practices in the pharmaceutical industry,” said Audrey Browne, associate administrator and counsel of the DC 37 Health & Security Plan, which oversees the union’s drug benefit for over three hundred thousand members, retirees and their dependents. The first lawsuit, scheduled to be heard in Philadelphia federal court, accuses generic drug manufacturers of conspiring to increase the price of a popular generic drug called propranolol, which is used to treat hypertension and prevent heart attacks. The suit seeks a rollback in prices and damages. Two other price rigging cases have also been filed in federal courts in New York and New Jersey against the generic [More...]