OCB Sides with Local 1505 in IPP Win

June 9, 2021 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS An impartial Board of Collective Bargaining determined that the City and the Parks Department Advocate’s Office violated the New York State collective bargaining law when it tried to dictate to Local 1505 and the union who could represent members. The Office of Collective Bargaining also shot down management’s attempt to modify the procedure for scheduling investigatory interviews. It dismissed two other charges. “I have had issues with the Advocate’s Office ever since I became president in 2008,” said Local 1505 President Dilcy Benn, who filed the improper practice petition in 2018. “President Benn came to the DC 37 Legal Department with clear evidence of mistreatment by the Parks Advocate’s Office. Put simply, Local 1505 members, facing disciplinary charges or pre-disciplinary investigations, were being subject to treatment different than other Parks [More...]


April 28, 2021 // 0 Comments

The Municipal Employees Legal Services team of lawyers and experts will host a webinar on Bankruptcy, An Opportunity For A Fresh Start, TONIGHT April 28, at 5:30 p.m. They will discuss the difference between Chapters 7 and 13 bankruptcy, garnishments and judgments, protecting your privacy, how to rebuild your credit, and more. Register at to get a meeting ID before the event. For more information, call the MELS Screening Unit at 212 815-1111 or email [More...]

Three MELS Webinars Now Online

December 25, 2020 // 0 Comments

The Municipal Employees Legal Services held webinars on Family Law (Oct. 28), Real Estate (Nov. 30), and Student Debt (Dec. 8) that each drew scores of concerned union members seeking legal advice. These webinars now are available online to members at “The pandemic has wreaked havoc on working families. COVID-19 has led to the interruption of non-custodial parent and grandparent visitation, impacted child support, and caused a spike in domestic violence,” said MELS Director Bill Whalen. The top three Family Law issues discussed by MELS lawyers were child support, visitation, and ACS Child Protective Services intervention in the home. Members can view the Family Law webinar replay at or view the slides at “Family issues can adversely impact one’s ability to function at work and more,” Whalen said. “No DC 37 member [More...]


November 30, 2020 // 0 Comments

The DC 37 Municipal Employees Legal Services, MELS, will host a Real Estate Webinar on Monday, Nov. 30, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Housing experts will discuss: Retaining and Working With A Realtor; Seller Concerns; Purchaser Concerns; Financing; Home Inspections, and more. The registration deadline is 4 p.m. today. MELS will then email all registrants a digital hyperlink that they can use to log into  the Webinar event. Please register at A Meeting ID will be e-mailed 24 hours before the event. For more information, call the MELS Screening Unit at 212 815-1111 or email [More...]

Cultural Trust Restores Union’s Legal Services

February 3, 2020 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Beginning March 1, DC 37 will resume offering legal services to members employed at and who have retired from New York City’s cultural institutions. “We are geared up and excited to offer much-needed legal services to these DC 37 members with no increase to their dues,” said William Whalen, the director of the Municipal Employees Legal Services. About 3,000 DC 37 members in six locals: 374, 1306, 1501, 1502, 1503, and 1559 and retirees will have access to MELS lawyers. These union members work at the American Museum of Natural History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Bronx Zoo, the Central Park Zoo, Wave Hill, the New York Aquarium, Brooklyn, Queens and NY Botanical Gardens, and other cultural sites. They should expect to receive a letter from DC 37 explaining the benefit shortly, Whalen said. After the 2008 stock market crash, the Cultural Trust lost a [More...]

MELS: A Pioneering Union Law Firm

October 18, 2016 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO Sept. 15 marked the 39th anniversary of the Municipal Employees Legal Services, one of District Council 37’s most successful programs. Established in 1977, MELS is one of the few pre-paid legal services offered to union members in the country. “When DC 37 started, I thought more unions would follow suit,” said MELS Chief Counsel and Director Joan Beranbaum, who was one of the first attorneys hired by MELS. “But that hasn’t been the case.” After starting as a pilot program, MELS is still going strong, offering eligible union members free legal services to assist them in a variety of issues from help with filing for a divorce, writing a will and becoming a citizen. The plan does not handle criminal cases. Members who are going up against an unscrupulous landlord can get assistance and be represented by a MELS attorney in Housing Court. Buying a home for [More...]