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Remembering Dr. King

January 15, 2020 // 0 Comments

BY DIANE S. WILLIAMS On the 91st anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth January 15, we reflect on his life’s pursuit of liberty, justice, equality for all and service to others. Dr. King’s life was cut short in 1968 at the age of 39 in Memphis, Tennessee. At the invitation of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME, DC 37’s national union), Dr. King traveled to support Black sanitation workers who were striking for fair wages, safe working conditions and the right to belong to a union. AFSCME pressed Dr. King to speak to Local 1733 members who daily bore humiliations and earned poverty wages. The last speech he ever gave, in which he famously declared that he had “been to the mountaintop,” was to the striking workers at the Mason Temple in Memphis. He embraced labor’s cause as a microcosm of the struggles his upcoming Poor [More...]

2019: Growing Union Power

December 26, 2019 // 0 Comments

Membership Reaches 150,000 By GREGORY N. HEIRES From the halls of the U.S. Congress to the streets of New York City and workplaces in the five boroughs, DC 37 kept busy in 2019 looking out for the interests of members and retirees. The union’s success in carrying out its mission is becoming ever more important as working families struggle to survive in a political world that is all too often hostile to their well-being. Making History: Unification of DC 37 & DC 1707 DC 37 made history in 2019, which will be remembered as a year our membership skyrocketed. Nearly 25,000 members from the private sector joined the union in September under a unification agreement between District Councils 37 and 1707, both affiliates of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. As a result, DC 37 membership now tops 150,000 — the highest it’s ever been. The benefits of [More...]

2020: The Year Ahead

December 23, 2019 // 0 Comments

By HENRY GARRIDO A union’s power depends on the ability to grow and the flexibility to change. 2019 was a year of tremendous growth and change within District Council 37. With the addition of nearly 25,000 non-profit, care workers from the former DC 1707, our union now has a broader scope and the potential to organize more New Yorkers in both the public and private sectors. The benefits of unification quickly became apparent when we negotiated historic pay increases for members who are early childhood educators at community-based programs in an agreement that put them on the path to parity with their counterparts at the Department of Education. But numbers alone do not reveal a union’s strength, and strength alone does not reveal a union’s character. In 2019, we aimed to stay true to our mission of defending members and making our city more livable for all New Yorkers by: helping [More...]

Local 1559 Members Win Promotions and Pay Hike at American Museum of Natural History

December 6, 2019 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS DC 37 resolved pay disputes and retention issues for three members of Local 1559 after the management of the American Museum of Natural History agreed to promote the Preparators and pay them $27,000 collectively. As a result of a series of labor management meetings, the museum promoted one Preparator to Sr. Principal Preparator and raised his salary by $6,000, while two other Preparators were promoted to Principal Preparators and received salary increases of $12,000 and $9,000. “These members love their jobs but with starting salaries of just $34,800 a year for Preparators, the museum pays far less than the industry standard,” said DC 37 White Collar Division Council Rep Amena Black. Senior Preparator Jason Brougham helped organize the group and even penned a letter to a sympathetic museum board member outlining the workers’ concerns. “The letter persuaded [More...]

New Safety and Health Director a Fearless Advocate for Members

November 26, 2019 // 0 Comments

By MIKE LEE Deborah Williams, the new director of the DC 37 Safety & Health Dept., learned early in her career that stepping up and taking risks can be essential to effective advocacy. She has dedicated herself to ensuring the health and workplace safety of public sector workers – as an employee, activist and advocate – for more than 30 years. Before joining the staff of DC 37, Williams was the Health and Safety Coordinator/Director for SSEU Local 371. While there, she was also a force behind creating the Charles H. Ensley Scholarship Fund, in honor of the late labor activist and former Local president. It all began when Williams chose to speak out. While a HRA Caseworker at the Waverly Center in Manhattan in the 1990s, Williams decided to stand up for her clients when the city was threatening to privatize an HRA homecare services program. Certain that the proposed privatization [More...]

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Worker Wins Wage Hike and Back Pay

August 14, 2019 // 1 Comment

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS After eight months of labor-management meetings, DC 37 Local 374 has won a wage hike and retroactive pay that adds about $1,400 to the annual salary of a Brooklyn Botanic Garden employee. “I love this job and everyone who knows me knows that I love what I do,” said Claudia Navas, a Clerical 4 project coordinator who spreads the message that composting is good for the environment, leads workshops and offers technical advice. A team player, Navas shoulders extra responsibilities to help out when Brooklyn Botanic Garden is short-staffed. But when she asked to be compensated for her hard work, she unearthed a problem only her union could resolve. “I was surprised to learn that although I am the most senior employee, as a Clerical 4, I earned $1,285 less than my colleagues, who are all senior museum instructors. So I called my union,” Navas said. White Collar [More...]

Members Get Citizenship Info at Union-Sponsored Workshop

August 7, 2019 // 0 Comments

Union members received professional help towards obtaining U.S. citizenship earlier this summer in a workshop sponsored by the DC 37 Citizenship Committee and partner CUNY Citizenship Now! The workshop was promoted on the union’s social media outlets. Experienced immigration lawyers and professionals offered members and their families free confidential legal services, including naturalization application assistance, DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) renewal, and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) extensions. They reviewed documents and helped participants understand what they need to complete an application for U.S. citizenship. Juan Fernandez, president of Local 154 and committee chair said, “This is one of the many services the union provides to our members and the community in an ongoing effort to welcome immigrants and help them navigate the path to US [More...]

Day-Care Educators Win Pay Equity with City Teachers

August 6, 2019 // 0 Comments

  By GREGORY N. HEIRES By more than a 3-to-1 margin, members of Local 205 — early childhood educators who work for non-profit organizations — voted for a contract extension that puts them on a path to wage parity with their counterparts at the New York City Dept. of Education. The contract extension covers more than 4,000 members of the local and is the first demonstration of how the recently-announced unification of District Council 1707 and District Council 37 can increase the bargaining and political power of New York City public and private sector workers. “This is an historic achievement — after decades of hard work, early childhood educators are being recognized as true professionals,” noted Kim Medina, the executive director of DC 1707 who now becomes special assistant to the executive director for the new Non-Profit and Private Sector Division of District Council [More...]

Union, City Settles Preschool Teachers Pay Gap

July 12, 2019 // 0 Comments

After long marches, huge demonstrations and weeks of intense negotiations, the City of New York and the NYC Day Care Council have reached a tentative contract agreement that will benefit more than 4,000 members of Day Care Employees Local 205. At issue is the wide pay gap between teachers who work in community-run preschools — which enroll the bulk of students in the city’s free, universal pre-K program — and those who teach in public school classrooms overseen by the education department. The new agreement would steadily boost salaries for pre-K teachers over three years, eventually matching what starting teachers in public schools make. Mayor de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson called the agreement historic, and noted the past difficulties of recruiting and retaining educators at community-based centers. DC 1707 Executive Director Kim Medina praised the Mayor [More...]

Moving Forward

July 12, 2019 // 0 Comments

By HENRY GARRIDO Honoring the past is important. Building a future is essential. Perhaps nothing has exemplified the grit and determination of our union quite like our headquarters at 125 Barclay St. in lower Manhattan, which has been our prime location for generations. DC 37 headquarters has been the place where contracts have been negotiated… where elected officials have come to explain themselves… where our rich cultural diversity has been celebrated. It is where members’ rights have been affirmed — and where members’ problems have been solved. This is where DC 37’s past and present come together with a promise and commitment for a better future. During our decades at 125 Barclay St., we’ve had to leave the building twice for prolonged periods of time — the first time after the tragedy of 9/11 in 2001; and, more recently, after the devastation wrought by Superstorm [More...]