Local 374

All aboard! Holiday Trains are a favorite at NY Botanical Garden

December 27, 2018 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Under a canopy of verdant tropical flora, the annual Holiday Train Show is in full bloom at the New York Botanical Garden. The exhibit features 175 Lilliputian landmarks, ferries and famous bridges, all under the watchful eyes of Local 374 Quasi-Public Employees at the famed Bronx cultural institution. The NYBG staff of maintainers, attendant guards, custodians, and gardeners and others work behind the scenes to help make this traditional holiday display, unveiled in 1992, one of the most successful cultural exhibits in the city. The collection includes 25 G-scale trains and trolleys that travel over a half-mile of tracks through a cityscape built to rival any Pixar animation. This year children thrill to see a train’s caboose whiz past replicas of the Freedom Tower and the Oculus of Lower Manhattan, the latest models in the Botanical Gardens’ growing collection [More...]

Libraries Are What Unites Us

April 9, 2018 // 0 Comments

By DAN RATHER I love libraries. Always have and always will. They shaped my life from childhood onward. In my book What Unites Us, I dedicated a large section of the essay on books to libraries. And since tomorrow marks the beginning of #NationalLibraryWeek, I thought I would share an extended excerpt. I am grateful to all make libraries a continued part of our civic fabric. I recognize a quaintness in waxing nostalgic about libraries in an age when we have instantaneous access to more information than was contained in all the combined library collections of my youth. Still, libraries represent an aspirational notion of democracy. They were, and still are, civic institutions that welcome anyone who wishes to become a more informed and independent citizen. In books we can find expert and trustworthy scholarship on any subject imaginable. By reading books, we can continually challenge our [More...]

A Passionate Activist, Local 374 President Retires

January 20, 2018 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Cuthbert Dickenson, a passionate activist for workers’ and immigrants’ rights, retired as president of Quasi-Public Employees Local 374. Dickenson tirelessly represented Local 374 members for five terms. Local 374’s membership includes maintenance, custodial and security workers, Attendant Guards, Instructors, Custodians, Gardeners, Motor Vehicle Operators, Clerical Associates and Secretaries at public botanical gardens; blue-collar workers at the libraries in the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island. Dickenson said he was particularly proud of three major accomplishments during his career of servicing the members of Local 374: collaborating with New York Public Library management and the union’s Education Fund to develop a free trades apprenticeship program for Local 374 members who work at New York Public Library. unionizing workers at the Wave Hill public [More...]

Breaking point

July 3, 2017 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Sammy Kamara was 7 when his parents sent him to live with an uncle in Monrovia, Liberia, to learn English with hopes for a better life. The uncle betrayed Sammy’s parents, brutalized the child and gave him away. “I was really a house slave,” said Sammy Kamara, a Local 374 Maintainer at the New York Botanical Gardens. “I was the perfect child laborer. I was not paid a penny. I worked. I cleaned. I helped with the children.” “It was slavery. I could not move until master said ‘Move.’ If I made eye contact, they would whip me,” Kamara said. His 2015 memoir “Breaking Point: A Journey of Self-Awareness and Finding Purpose in Pain,” recounts his eight years as a slave in Monrovia and the Bronx, and finally freedom. Kamara has worked for the Botanical Gardens for 40 years and attended New York Theological Seminary. His book draws on the wisdom of U.S. [More...]

High Turnout for Library Jobs Fair at Union Headquarters

February 10, 2017 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO District Council 37 and the New York Public Library collaborated to sponsor a job fair to fill positions at the NYPL. Union and NYPL staff screened and interviewed 100 individuals at the Feb. 10 job fair held at DC 37 headquarters. After filling out applications, candidates were then interviewed by staff from the library’s Human Resources Dept. Among the positions the NYPL is looking to fill are Building Superintendent, Junior Library Custodian, Library Maintainer and Porter. “Our libraries are a great resource for New Yorkers, but we have to make sure they’re properly maintained. This increase in staff is long overdue,” said Cuthbert Dickenson, president of Quasi-Public Employees Local 374, which represents blue-collar and custodial titles. The NYPL and DC 37 will hold another job fair at the Bronx Library Center at 310 East Kingsbridge Road on March 3. [More...]

Agreement protects cultural workers pensions

September 1, 2016 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES The union reached a tentative agreement that protects the pensions of DC 37 members working at cultural institutions and other workers who are employed at day-care centers. On Aug. 11, DC 37 concluded talks on the five-year agreement with the employers’ representatives, the Cultural Institutions Group and the Day Care Council of New York, after months of tough negotiations to find a way to preserve the Cultural Institutions Retirement System (CIRS). “The members of our bargaining committee made the hard choices and took the responsible actions needed to protect our hard-won benefits for current employees and to preserve our pension benefits into the future,” DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido said. The agreement will maintain the benefits of the 9,000 current employees, including 1,200 DC 37 members enrolled in the pension system. They will still be able [More...]