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Public Employee Press

DC 37 fights to maintain needed programs in city budget

Rodger Murray, SAPIS chapter chair of Local 372, spoke out in favor of funding for SAPIS Counselors at a hearing before the City Council in March.

Universal free lunch for all public school students and support for public housing and hospitals are atop DC 37’s list of priorities as the city formulates its budget for next year.

District Council 37 and Board of Education Employees Local 372 continue to push the City Council to make universal free lunch available to all public school students.

During a March 12 City Council meeting of the Committee on Education DC 37 Assistant Associate Director Jahmila Joseph and Local 372 Vice President Donald Nesbit said that it’s time to catch up with cities such as Chicago, Boston, Dallas and Detroit — which offer all their students a free and healthy lunch.

Ninety percent of all school lunch costs are covered by federal and state reimbursements. “This is not just good public policy; it is a wise investment,” Joseph said.

Donald Trump’s proposed $6 billion cut in federal spending to the Department of Housing and Urban Development threatens city public housing (see story on page 5). Public hospitals, which also face significant challenges caused by Trump’s federal budget plan, seek the funding necessary to continue to provide quality care in the city’s communities.

There are many bright spots in Mayor de Blasio’s $84.6 billion preliminary budget for the new fiscal year starting on July 1 – among them: an expansion of the Summer Youth Employment Program from 60,000 slots to 65,000, improved internet service for schools; and an investment in infrastructure that includes paving 1,300 miles of roads and repairing bridges.

The mayor also allocated $6.3 million to hire 200 additional School Crossing Guards and 100 Crossing Guard Supervisors. The guards are represented by DC 37 and Board of Education Employees Local 372.

The City Council’s Finance Committee held public hearings on the proposed budget attended by union leaders, who gave their input.

Joe Puleo, president of Local 983, represents Urban Park Rangers and wants to see not only more personnel in the city parks but also better equipment.

“We need more vehicles, and some of our buildings are in dire need of maintenance,” Puleo said at the March hearing. Puleo would like to see enough money in the budget to at least double the Parks workforce from 350 to 700.

Local 1757 President Fran Schloss called for the hiring of additional assessors and assistant assessors at a Finance Committee hearing on March 2. The city is losing millions of dollars in revenue because of short-staffing for site inspections, she said.

Local 372’s Donald Nesbit advocated for more funds to be allocated towards installing and maintain proper air conditioning in the school kitchens, where the lunches are prepared.

“The kitchens where our members work can reach over 150 degrees; it’s like working in a furnace!” he said.

At a March 2 hearing, Local 1549 2nd Vice President Ralph Palladino told the committee there are still 500 uniformed personnel doing work that should be done by members of Local 1549 at the New York Police Dept. Assigning non-uniformed workers to the job would save the city as much as $30 million.

The Finance Committee’s budget hearings ended on March 22. The mayor’s fiscal year 2018 budget for fiscal 2018 must be approved by June 30.