PEP Henry Garrido

Shocked but not surprised: Trump budget is more pain for working families

March 22, 2019 // 0 Comments

By HENRY GARRIDO I have said it before in this space: Budgets are not just numbers, dollars & cents. When presidents/governors/mayors present a budget, they are telling you what they value, who they value. What their priorities are – and what they are not. Donald Trump the candidate thundered on during the campaign about how he was going to make life better for millions of American families left behind by economic inequality and stagnant wages. To date, Donald Trump’s signature accomplishment is his so-called tax “reform.” As a candidate, Trump claimed his tax plan was going to help working families and target the rich. But the tax bill that President Trump signed into law “spread tax gains unevenly across income brackets, with high earners enjoying the biggest windfalls,” according to National Public Radio. Under his tax plan, rich real estate investors — including [More...]

The Midterm Elections and Us

November 20, 2018 // 0 Comments

By HENRY GARRIDO The midterm elections have shown that unions are a vital electoral force in our country and the United States is undergoing a political realignment that we hope will significantly improve the lives of working people. The recapturing of the U.S. House of Representatives by Democrats creates an important check on the excesses of the Trump administration. This allows us to push back against GOP lawmakers’ plan to gut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security; adopt trade agreements harmful to workers; dismantle Obamacare; repeal regulations, including worker protections, and pass more tax cuts to benefit corporations and the 1 percent. As we look ahead to President Trump’s campaign for a second term in 2020, we can expect a rocky road ahead. Many feel we face political warfare rather than compromise and constructive dialog over public policy. While it appears the [More...]

Our Pensions and Renewable Energy

October 9, 2018 // 0 Comments

By HENRY GARRIDO Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO NEW York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Comptroller Scott M. Stringer and other trustees of the city’s pension funds recently announced a new goal to double the funds’ investments in climate change solutions to $4 billion, or 2 percent of the city’s $195 billion pension portfolio, over the next three years. This plan builds upon an earlier announcement to divest city pension funds from fossil fuels within five years. Opponents have engaged in scare tactics. In recent months, the Daily News has published two hyperbolic op-ed pieces criticizing these moves and falsely assailing the motives behind them. On the internet, opponents exploit the anxieties of pensioners and urge them to sign a petition, essentially just saying no to the future. Safeguarding our retirement As a trustee of the New York City Employees [More...]

The Contract Vote’s Message

September 6, 2018 // 0 Comments

By HENRY GARRIDO Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO I was happy, to say the least, that our new economic agreement was overwhelmingly approved. A lot of work went into this contract. Many union locals encouraged members to share their ideas about negotiations. We reported on our progress in the union newspaper and blog. DC 37 carried out an on-line survey. Our bargaining team stuck together. And our staffers provided important background to back up our case. The contract provides for a decent wage increase; protects our prescription drug and other benefits; maintains our premium-free health-care plan; significantly boosts funding for our education program — which helps members advance their skills and enrich their lives — and includes our new employer-provided paid family leave benefit — something only about 15 percent of the U.S. workers enjoy. [More...]

Vote “Yes” on the Contract

July 10, 2018 // 0 Comments

By HENRY GARRIDO Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO After a marathon negotiating session in late June, we concluded talks with the city on a new economic agreement, which provides for fair wage increases worth more than 7 percent and a new paid parental leave benefit. The contract provides for a retroactive 2 percent raise on Sept. 26, 2017, a 2.25 percent increase on Sept. 26, 2018, and an additional 3 percent on Oct. 26, 2019. The contract’s term is from Sept. 26, 2017, to May 26, 2021. I want to let you know how we approached this round of negotiations differently from previous contract talks. We managed to negotiate the contract in less than a year, faster than in earlier negotiations. We won decent and fair salary increases, and yes, we believe the increases will keep up with the cost of living. But the key accomplishments are not merely these raises. We [More...]

Defend Our Jobs and Benefits

May 2, 2018 // 0 Comments

By HENRY GARRIDO Members of a DC 37 delegation were among the thousands of people who visited Memphis, Tenn., last month to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. We feel a personal connection to the tragedy on April 14, 1968, because the civil rights leader was in Memphis to support striking sanitation workers represented by our national union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. King described the goals of the civil rights movement and labor movement as intertwined. He recognized that unions built our middle class. “The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress,” King said. “Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave birth to unemployment insurance, old age pensions, government relief for the destitute, and, above all, new wage levels [More...]

The Court Attack

April 5, 2018 // 0 Comments

By HENRY GARRIDO In the next few months, we expect the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on Janus v. AFSCME, a court case that aims to cripple public employee unions. Janus argues that the mandatory collection of union dues violates the individual’s constitutional right to freedom of speech. A ruling against unions would entitle non-members to union benefits for free, placing a great financial burden on unions. But my concern here is not to get wrapped up in an abstract philosophical or legal discussion. I want to make clear what’s at stake and to talk about our long-term strategy for living in a post-Janus world if the court goes against us. What Janus is really about is politics and power. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is bankrolling the case. The foundation is tied to the State Policy Network, which brings together nearly 100 right-wing think tanks whose goal is to [More...]

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...]

Building Political Power

December 15, 2017 // 0 Comments

By HENRY GARRIDO We played an important role in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s re-election and the defeat of the constitutional convention ballot question, achievements that capped a busy year. Before sharing some of my concerns about our future challenges, I wish to discuss our political mobilization in some depth because in many ways it captures the spirit of change we want to inculcate at DC 37. We worked almost a year on “con con.” We began by providing you with background information on the proposal, which threatened our pensions and right to bargain collectively. In the summer, we shifted into high gear as volunteer activists from the organizing and the political action departments visited members and retirees in their homes to inform them about the ballot question. On Election Day, an army of activists also made home visits. The home visits mark a difference in how our union [More...]

A Union Mission to Puerto Rico

November 4, 2017 // 0 Comments

By HENRY GARRIDO Putting aside the Trump administration’s lackluster response to the devastation from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, we all should be proud of the dedication of the government workers who are providing crucial humanitarian aid on the island. Thousands of federal, state and local public employees from around the country have volunteered for the disaster relief effort. Six members of DC 37 — a nurse and five construction workers—were among 320 union workers who left New York City on Oct. 4 on a flight to Puerto Rico in a humanitarian mission sponsored by the AFL-CIO. The workers on the United Airlines union-made Boeing 777-300ER flight included doctors, nurses, electricians, carpenters, masons, engineers and truck drivers. The city’s outpouring of support for Puerto Rico reflects our special ties with the 3.5 million people on the island. The 723,621 Puerto Ricans [More...]