POLITICS

Local 1549 Members are Ready to Repel a Right-wing Effort to Kill Off Public Employee Unions

February 14, 2018 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Local 1549 members met to prepare a fight back against the efforts of right-wing groups to destroy public service unions and dismantle government services. During the conference held on Feb. 3, union leaders briefed members about the U.S. Supreme Court case, Janus v. AFSCME. This case threatens to financially starve public sector unions by allowing workers who are not members to receive services for free. “We face perhaps the greatest attack in the history of unions,” Local 1549 Executive Vice President Alma Roper said. “We need to stand up and be strong.” Ralph Palladino, the local’s 2nd vice president, spoke of the threat posed by the right-wing network and the efforts of the Trump administration and the Republican-dominated U.S. Congress to deeply scale back funding for Medicaid and other services. After passing a new tax law that provides major cuts [More...]

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: A Labor Leader

February 12, 2018 // 0 Comments

By LEE SAUNDERS The photograph is iconic. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., only 39 years old but the nation’s most prominent civil rights leader, lay fatally wounded on a motel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee. His lieutenants stood over his body, pointing frantically across the parking lot in the direction of the shooter. Dr. King was in Memphis to support the city’s sanitation workers — members of the union I’m proud to serve as president, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — who were striking in protest of poverty wages and dangerous, degrading working conditions. Their fight for dignity and respect was expressed with a simple, compelling slogan: “I Am a Man.” In his final campaign and throughout his life as an activist, Dr. King highlighted the struggle of all working people to get a fair shake. He’s best known, of course, for his civil [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...]

DC 37 Activists Join Thousands at the Women’s March NYC

January 22, 2018 // 0 Comments

By MIKE LEE An estimated 200,000 committed activists descended on midtown Manhattan on Jan. 20 to protest against the anti-women and anti-immigrant agenda of the Trump administration and the GOP-controlled U.S. Congress. Under a bright sun on a spring-like Saturday afternoon, DC 37 was there in force in the Women’s March NYC. Led by Civil Service Technical Guild Local 375, DC 37 activists participated in the march to voice their fierce opposition and resistance to the dark forces unleashed by the election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency in November 2016. The local March was highly-charged in the wake of the government shutdown and the deportation threat to hundreds of thousands of young immigrants, known as Dreamers. The #MeToo movement, which has encouraged women to stand up to abuse by men, was a key driving force of the nationwide protests. Millions marched from New York to [More...]

National Union Launches Campaign to Commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy

January 16, 2018 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Fifty years ago black sanitation workers in Memphis went on strike to demand fair wages and safe working conditions. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. joined the striking members of Local 1733 in response to a request from AFSCME’s then-president Jerry Wurf. The strikers asserted their humanity with an empowering slogan: “I Am a Man.” Wurf enlisted King—a young preacher whose nonviolent boycotts and protests fissured longstanding, illegal Jim Crow laws, and won him international acclaim as a Nobel Peace prize recipient. King roused striking workers to stand strong. His presence lent moral authority, depth and clarity to their struggle. As night fell on Memphis April 3, King stood in the Mason Temple pulpit and delivered his prophetic “Mountaintop” speech. The next day he was assassinated at the Lorraine Hotel. “Let us never forget,” Wurf said, “that Dr. [More...]

Book Review: “Latino Americans”

January 2, 2018 // 0 Comments

By KEN NASH Latino Americans,” a 6-hour PBS documentary, links our present to our past, showing that much of what is now the United States was settled by Mexicans (after they subdued the Native Americans). They then were gradually conquered by European Americans in California, Texas, and the Southwest. In the process, their land rights were trampled on and other forms of discrimination reduced Americans of Latino ancestry to second-class citizenship for centuries. Despite this, Latino Americans fought in our wars, frequently heroically, but their contributions, often celebrated for a moment, were soon forgotten. When they returned from World War II, they faced the same discrimination and poverty despite fighting against fascism abroad. But they fought back with newly founded Latino veterans organizations. The 1960s saw a new upsurge of Latin American activism throughout the country [More...]

South Asian Labor Group Sets Aggressive Political Agenda for 2018 Elections

December 20, 2017 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES A South Asian American labor group plans to aggressively build its membership and fight for a Democratic takeover of the U.S. Congress in the midterm elections in 2018. Participants at the Alliance of South Asian American Labor’s 10th annual convention on Dec. 9 celebrated their growing political strength and membership. But they also sharply decried the attack on immigrants, middle-class families and the poor emanating from the White House and U.S. Congress. The group expects to work with coalitions and to take part in voter registration drives and get-out-the-vote efforts in 2018. Speakers highlighted the victories of South Asians in the November election in New Jersey, where ASAAL helped elect Democrat Phil Murphy as governor. Ravi Bhalla won the mayoral in Hoboken, becoming the first Sikh, a South Asian, elected as mayor in New Jersey and one of a few elected [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...]

Want to Get Back to Normal? Strong Unions are Key

December 7, 2017 // 0 Comments

By LEE SAUNDERS Daily flirtations with nuclear war. Suspending freedom of the press. Fifty-nine people executed during a country music concert. Neo-Nazis and white supremacists marching openly in the streets. American citizens begging for their government’s help after a storm wiped their hopes and dreams off the map, only to then be threatened with revocation of that aid because Wall Street wants its money. Foreign powers sabotage our elections; our leaders sabotage our health care because of an ill-conceived campaign promise. Saying “This isn’t normal” has become clichéd, but finding solutions to get us back to normal isn’t yet commonplace. We don’t have to look too far to find those solutions. They are right beneath our feet. At their best, labor unions provide the stability that allows democracy to flourish. When working people organize, they can call out corruption and [More...]

Climate Activists Ready to Fight

December 6, 2017 // 0 Comments

By ALFREDO ALVARADO With President Donald J. Trump pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement and his appointment of a climate skeptic to lead the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the battle to protect the environment has gotten more contentious. Those developments and the hurricanes that have swept across the Caribbean were some of the topics discussed at a forum sponsored by the DC 37 Climate Justice Committee. The committee chair, Local 1501 President Jeremy Sanders, Jon Foster, founder of the committee, and the union’s Political Action and Legislation Dept. organized a panel of activists for a lively discussion and a short film on Oct. 5 at union headquarters. Eddie Bautista, one of the panelists and executive director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, said unions have stepped up their support for the transition to renewable energy and highlighted [More...]