POLITICS

Cuomo Signs Legislation Strengthening Workers’ Rights

April 13, 2018 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Governor Andrew M. Cuomo yesterday signed landmark legislation to strengthen the rights of working men and women in New York state. This new law increases access to and protects union membership in New York’s public-sector workplaces in anticipation of an adverse ruling in the pending Supreme Court case Janus v. AFSCME. Additionally, the law provides safeguards against the deliberate actions taken by the federal government that continue to undermine the efforts of organized labor across this country. Cuomo described the new law as a response to a long-term campaign by the extreme right to destroy unions. “Too often, and at the hands of this federal administration, we are seeing the labor movement going backwards. In New York it is a different story, and our efforts to protect working men and women are moving labor forward, making the workplace fairer and [More...]

Union Action: PEOPLE Power

April 11, 2018 // 0 Comments

By GREGORY N. HEIRES Our political system is dominated by corporations, lobbyists and wealthy individuals. As the 2016 election cycle wound down, five individual donors had spent more than $210 million on political contributions while labor, which represent nearly 15 million members, donated $132 million to super PACs and another $35 million on federal elections. Republican casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his wife alone contributed $52.9 million. The political strength of the labor movement depends a great deal on our “people power. Volunteers take part in the union’s get-out-to vote work, such as phone banking, attending rallies and going door-to-door to encourage members to vote. Across the country members help fortify our political strength by supporting the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees’ own political action fund — known as PEOPLE. John [More...]

Labor Confronts a Post-Janus Future

April 7, 2018 // 1 Comment

By GREGORY N. HEIRES The anti-union case before the U.S. Supreme Court — Janus v. AFSCME — has led to a lot of soul searching about improving labor’s way of doing business in the future. A ruling in favor of the plaintiff Mark Janus would allow non-members to receive union services for free without paying dues. This would deliver a tremendous financial blow to public employee unions, undermining their ability to provide services and use their political power to protect the interests of working families. On March 19, DC 37 hosted a meeting of labor leaders, public officials and academics convened by Public Advocate Letitia James that examined the implications of Janus v. AFSCME, which the right-wing hopes will defund unions and ultimately politically destroy them. “Let’s look at our own institutions,” said Vincent Alvarez, president of the AFL-CIO’s New York City Central [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...]

Union Organizing: a Civil Right

March 23, 2018 // 0 Comments

Now that the arguments were made — on both sides — in the Janus v. AFSCME case heard before the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 26, the waiting game for the ruling by the court begins. However, we want to make clear that our rights shall not be dictated by a majority of nine in a single legal case. Importantly, our right to organize, collectively bargain with our employers, and stand together as a solid bloc, is a civil right, one that cannot be denied or taken from us. A quote from the American Civil Liberties Union’s on its own stand on collective bargaining says it best: “Unions facilitate and enhance the ability of their members to exercise core civil liberties, such as the First Amendment rights of association, speech and petition.” The U.S. Constitution protects the right to association for individuals with common interests to unite and form organizations to fight — and [More...]

The Year of the Woman!

March 9, 2018 // 0 Comments

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS Labor kicked off Women’s History Month with a spirited forum urging women to resist, insist and persist in following their passion and achieving visibility and inclusion. “The energy in this room is amazing and what is about to happen will be magical. This is the Year of the Woman!” said Lelani Levin of SSEU Local 371, who co-chairs the Women’s Committee with Carmen Charles, president of Local 420. The diverse and outspoken panel included leaders from various fields: AFSCME Secretary Treasurer Elissa McBride, the Honorable Lisa Ottley, Dr. Una Clarke, City Council member Adrienne Adams, Dr. Sophia Lubin, Judaline Cassidy and Gessie Thompson. Jahmila Joseph, the union’s assistant associate director, enjoyed an “Oprah moment” as moderator of the discussion. “If you want something, go after it, if it’s not there make it yourself,” said Cassidy, a [More...]

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...]