Municipal Employees Legal Services

Join the Campaign to Support Tenant Rights

April 30, 2019 // 0 Comments

By RUDY OROZCO Affordable housing is one of the most critical issues in New York. As part of the Housing Justice for All coalition, DC 37 supports an Albany legislative agenda that would expand tenant rights, stabilize neighborhoods and eliminate the control corporate landlords have over housing throughout the state. The coalition is pushing the state legislature to pass nine bills before the session ends at the end of June. Each bill helps protect tenant rights by limiting the ability of landlords to gouge prices and raise rents exorbitantly. DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido noted our union’s progressive history and its commitment to helping all of New York’s working families. “We have always been concerned with more than wages, working conditions and pensions for our members,” he said.  “The fight for stronger tenant rights and more affordable housing is among our [More...]

Union Helps Homeless Member Start Over

February 11, 2019 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Morris Johnson lived in two rooms in a rambling old house he shared with longtime friends that he considered family. “We lived like close family. I paid my $550 rent every month,” said Johnson, a Local 420 Institutional Aide since 2005. The house where Johnson lived was in an East New York neighborhood bordered by elevated train lines, just down the hill from the Jackie Robinson Parkway and Brooklyn’s Evergreen Cemetery. It was Johnson’s home for more than a decade. Until it wasn’t. “I’m blindsided,” said Johnson, 65, who bikes to work each day at the Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene in Long Island City. “I came home to find the sheriff locked the house. The family– a mother and her three grown children — cut out,” Johnson said. In January the house was foreclosed, and seized by the bank. “They never said a word to me about their [More...]

Union Will Hold a Tax Workshop in January

December 17, 2018 // 0 Comments

Are you looking for help with your taxes? The union’s Municipal Employees Legal Services will host a tax workshop in January. The workshop will be held at DC 37 union headquarters, Thursday, Jan. 10, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., in Rooms, 2, 3 and 4. This workshop will focus on changes resulting from the Trump tax law, which was approved in 2017. The topics covered by the workshop include: Earned Income Credit Child Tax Credit Education Credit Affordable Care Act Requirements Standard and Itemized Deductions and Elimination of Exemptions. For more information, call MELS at 212-815-1111. The DC 37 Blog is an official online publication of District Council 37, AFSCME, which represents 121,000 municipal employees in New York City and surrounding [More...]

“The union is there when you need help. It provides job security.”

October 12, 2018 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Local 1549 member Geraldine Morina signed her union card in 1992, and since then she has remained a passionate activist. Morina, 63, is the local’s chapter chair at the Dept. of Transportation, where she enjoys being an advocate for her coworkers and a source of information about their workplace rights and union benefits. With a keen interest in politics, she keeps members updated on DC 37’s legislative and electoral priorities. “A lot of members are unaware of what the union provides,” said Morina, a clerical associate level 3. “I tell them they should view their membership as an investment. The union is there when you need help. It provides job security.” Through her own experience, Morina learned how joining the union makes a good investment. She once avoided being evicted from her apartment by going to the union’s Municipal Employees Legal Services [More...]

Union Helps Members Fight Off Unscrupulous Debt Collectors

August 8, 2018 // 0 Comments

    By ALFREDO ALVARADO  President Donald Trump has rolled back financial regulations of all kinds. And now, thanks to his policies, the slimly debt collection business is back. Debt buyers are companies that purchase debt from an original creditor, usually a credit card issuer or a bank. They then try to collect the amount owed. Usually, they sue the debtor without notification. When the unsuspecting consumer does not show up in court, a default judgement is entered, paving the way for his or her salary to be garnished. Sheldon Barasch, supervising attorney for the union’s Municipal Employees Legal Services, does not think highly of the debt collection business. “These debt settlement companies are a total scam,” he said. “We’ve seen this going on for many years.” The MELS Bankruptcy Unit handles as many as 1,000 of these cases annually. A 2009 MELS study found that [More...]

Trump’s Nationalistic Policies Worry Immigrant Members

March 31, 2017 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO President Donald J. Trump’s executive order issued on Jan. 27 sought to ban people from seven Muslim majority countries from entering the United States. The order was swiftly struck down by the federal court with orders not to deport or detain travelers. Chaos prevailed at airports around the country on the weekend the day after Trump issued the ban. At Kennedy Airport in New York City, hundreds of demonstrators joined cab drivers and protested against the ban. Panic also spread among the thousands of immigrant New Yorkers. Fear spread to immigrants not covered by the ban and even immigrants who have green cards and visas. Ferdous Ahmed, a member of Electronic Data Processing Personnel Local 2627, was one of those New Yorkers. Shocked by what he was seeing on the evening news that weekend, Ahmed called the union’s Municipal Employees Legal Services (MELS) the [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...]