Sign up For DC 37 News


Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

Leading the Way

A year in review


District Council 37 had a busy year in 2018.

We were everywhere!

We protested a major anti-union case before the U.S. Supreme Court. We visited Albany to fight for pro-union legislation and funding for city programs. Union representatives traveled to Memphis, Tenn., to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and recommit ourselves to the fight for social, political, and economic justice.

We visited members in their homes to urge them to vote in the historic mid-term elections. After helping to flip the U.S. House, we are now in a better position to fight back against the Trump administration’s anti-labor agenda.

Union organizers went to worksites throughout the year to discuss the value of unionism with members and to build a new cadre of leaders.

And we secured a new, no-giveback contract for about 100,000 members, along with a similar economic agreement for 10,000 workers represented by DC 37 locals at the City University of New York.

Throughout the year, members took advantage of the array of union services and benefits, including grievances, legal services, individual and group counseling, education, home purchases, pension counseling, workplace safety, and dental, vision and drug coverage.

In 2019, we pledge to continue our Leading the Way plan, improving member services, encouraging grassroots participation, strengthening ties to our communities, and ensuring that our city provides opportunities for all who live and work here.


The union’s new, 52-month contract calls for a total raise of 7.42 percent, protects our premium-free health coverage, secures additional funding to enrich training and skill-building programs for members, and protects our prescription drug benefit. One of the highlights of the economic agreement is a new paid family leave benefit.Members ratified the contract by a 98 percent vote.


Members who work at the City University of New York recently overwhelmingly approved a similar contract that was bargained within a remarkably short period of time. The union carried out a major campaign to inform our 10,000 members at CUNY about the contract.


2018 was a year of transformation for the DC 37 Education Fund, which launched a strategy to modernize and expand training opportunities for members. The union pressed the city to increase funding — for the first time in 47 years — from $25 per member to $100 per member, which will help pay for additional classes.

The fund made significant technological advances. Members can now register for classes online, which reduces the application process from months to days. They can track their courses, credentials, and career progress with new, personal “digital badges.”

New courses have been launched in the Bronx and Queens, expanding off-site services to reach members near their homes and work. New courses deal with such subjects as civil service test preparation, parliamentary procedure for union leaders, and Microsoft Office certification. In 2018, nearly 2,000 members attended 26 workshops and seminars.


Working with the DC 37 Housing Committee, the union’s housing program helped many members take out loans to purchase homes. The DC 37 Municipal Employees Housing Program helps members with home purchases, balloon mortgage problems, threats of eviction, affordable homes, information for first-time homebuyers, credit counseling, budgeting, and a city home purchasing program that provides a preference for municipal employees.

Politics and Social Justice

Midterm Elections: Politically active members, including Volunteer Member Organizers, worked with the Political Action and Legislative Dept. to support progressive candidates, including Congressional Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in races for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives. The nationwide effort fortified a roadblock against President Trump’s anti-labor policies. The union’s political mobilization also helped Democrats gain control of the New York Senate. We were happy to support NYC Public Advocate Letitia James’ successful campaign for state attorney general.

Resisting Trump: Union leaders and members backed the lawsuits of attorneys general around the country to prevent the Trump administration from including a question about citizenship in the 2020 census. The lawsuits charge that the question would drive immigrants underground and lead to the loss of billions of dollars in federal aid to city and states. (The federal government uses the census count to determine the amount of aid it provides.)

Local 1070 and Local 154 spearheaded a fight to keep ICE agents out of the courts.

Civil and Economic Rights: DC 37 participated in the nationwide I AM 2018 political and civic campaign launched on the 50th anniversary of assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Led by DC 37’s national union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, I AM 2018 sparked a new movement dedicated to realizing King’s struggle for a more just society.

Grassroots Action: Members participated in demonstrations in the city and the nation’s capital linked to the March for Our Lives, which brought out an estimated 800,000 people for rallies to call for tighter gun control laws.

The union’s Climate Justice Committee hosted forums and hit the streets in demonstrations to raise public awareness of climate change.

Building A Stronger Union

Throughout the year, DC 37 held town meetings to inform members about their benefits and workplace protections, address the nationwide right-wing legal and political campaigns against organized labor, answer questions about services, and take suggestions about how to make DC 37 a stronger union. Throughout, union representatives encouraged non-members to join DC 37 and help build a stronger union.

Volunteer Member Organizers (VMOs) continue to provide the backbone of our organizing efforts, helping build a greater presence in the community and at worksites, and encouraging non-members to join.

DC 37 organized unrepresented hospital workers and negotiated with the city to represent hundreds of employees misclassified as managers.

Several DC 37 locals, including Local 1549, Local 371, Local 3005, and Local 372, offered shop steward training to help coworkers address on-the-job problems. Providing ongoing training is an important service of locals because shop stewards are so often on the front lines of labor–management relations. Shop stewards are frequently members’ primary contacts for getting involved in DC 37 activities, whether it’s political activity, cultural events, contract campaigns, or work-related demonstrations.

To find out more about becoming a Volunteer Member Organizer, call the Organizing Dept. at (212) 815-1095. To become a grassroots political action volunteer, call the Dept. of Political Action and Legislation at (212) 815-1550.

Community Outreach

DC 37 worked with community groups on a number of issues.

The DC 37 Office of Community Outreach, established in 2017, deepened the union’s ties to community groups and carried out initiatives on voter registration, student debt, environmental issues, and immigration. To learn about our “Labor to Neighbor” program, call (212) 815-1502.

Throughout the year, more than 700 members attended 41 student debt workshops. Participants learned how to lower their school loan debt.

In addition, DC 37’s Labor and Faith initiative worked with other groups on the federal government’s crackdown on immigrants, public housing, climate change, and the state’s tuition-free college program.

The union’s community activists participated in demonstrations with other unions, including a major demonstration on immigration in Philadelphia, where Local 154 President Juan Fernandez spoke.

DC 37 Community Associations provided members the opportunity to solve problems in the neighborhoods where they live. In 2018, our community associations were active in neighborhoods around the city. The associations met quarterly to discuss common concerns and to plan action. Call (212) 815-1550 to find out how to get involved.

For information about becoming a shop steward, contact your local union. Also, call the DC 37 Education Dept. at (212) 815-1700 to learn about its training program.

Answering the Court Attack on Unions

DC 37 activists joined thousands of protestors at Foley Square in February as part of a nationwide Working People’s Day of Action to support struggling workers. The event was timed to coincide with the opening oral arguments in the Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees case before the U.S. Supreme Court, a case aimed at weakening public employee collective bargaining and organizing. A few months later, in a politically-charged decision, the court ruled against public employee unions, allowing non-members to receive union services without contributing dues.

Since the decision, DC 37 has encouraged thousands of former “agency fee payers” to sign up as members of the union. To date, only a few of the union’s 125,000-plus members have dropped their membership.

Anticipating a negative ruling, New York unions worked with Gov. Andrew Cuomo to craft legislation to preserve union protections for working men and women, allow public employee unions to meet with new hires to explain the benefits of union representation and urge them to sign membership cards.

Protecting Our Pensions

DC 37 helped drive the decision of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System to adopt a five-year plan to drop its investments in fossil fuel companies and instead invest $4 billion in financially secure “green” energy companies. DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido is a trustee of the retirement system.

Other Achievements

School Crossing Guard Promotions: Local 372 and DC 37 worked with the city and New York City Police Dept. to establish a career path for school crossing guards. Under an agreement, SCGs now have the opportunity to promote to a new Level 2 supervisor position. So far, 100 members have moved up to the new position, which pays about 10 percent more than an SCG’s salary.

Protecting Overtime: A grievance filed by three information technology workers in Local 2627 led CUNY to remove a cap on overtime payments. When workers hit that limit, they were offered compensation time. The main issue for the grievants was that overtime pay is pensionable, while comp time is not.

Paid Sick Leave for 9/11 Heroes: DC 37 supported Local 2507 and Local 3621 in their successful fight to get the city to grant unlimited paid sick leave to workers who responded to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack and participated in the cleanup. Until now, many EMS workers had to choose between their jobs and their health care after exhausting their sick days. For EMS workers in the union, the benefit was a matter of equity because police officers and firefighters have enjoyed the benefit for years.

Lifeguards: 2018 was the fifth year in a row in which no fatalities occurred while lifeguards and their supervisors worked at municipal pools and city beaches.

Thwarting Contracting Out: Workers represented by Local 1322 beat back the Dept. of Environment Protection’s plan to hire contractors for snow removal at an upstate Kingston facility and training center. After workers showed they could do the job more efficiently, the department agreed to adopt a plan to contract in the work. The plan provided a pay increase for the workers and saves the city money.

The Big Cleanup: Members played a central role in the recovery from four major snowstorms that hit New York City within a 10-day period last year. Workers put in 12- to 14-hour days, removing downed trees, clearing the streets, and answering emergency calls.

Puerto Rico: DC 37 continued its work to help Puerto Rico recover from the damage caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017. The union backed legislators who want the federal government to dramatically increase its assistance to the island. In 2017, several members volunteered to go to Puerto Rico to help with the recovery.

AFSCME Convention: Dozens of members attended our national union’s 43rd convention in the summer. With the theme “#RiseUp,” the convention served as a rallying cry for unions to mobilize against the nationwide attack by far-right interests and their political allies.