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Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

3 free college degree programs for Local 372 members


DC 37 is helping Local 372 members with three, unique degree programs the union has negotiated with Monroe College and LaGuardia College’s Food Service Management Program.

“We have an incredible education benefit that allows members to earn degrees, that when paired with their work experience, prepares them to move up the career ladder in the Department of Education and earn better salaries,” said Local 372 and DC 37 President Shaun D. Francois I.

Francois and Henry Garrido, DC 37’s executive director, along with the union’s Education Fund and Research and Negotiations Department, are working to retain and improve this benefit that provides three different choices for members in qualifying Local 372 titles to earn a free college education.

“Currently 20 Local 372 members are enrolled in the LaGuardia program and working toward their degrees. Three Local 372 members graduated in June, one with honors!” said Ed Fund Assistant Director Patty Punch.

The DC 37 Education Fund has high school equivalency courses and refresher classes to prep students for the Nutrition and Culinary Management Program. For more than 40 years, eligible members working in DOE’s School Food Services have attended CUNY’s LaGuardia Community College in Queens to earn an associate’s degree.

“DC 37 won this fully-funded benefit at the bargaining table and we intend to keep it, so we urge our members to take full advantage and use it,” Francois said.

Graduates can apply for manager positions in School Food Services. Local 372 members who want to apply but need pre-college advisement, a high school equivalency diploma, or to improve their skills for college readiness, can enroll in DC 37 free classes at

Punch said the union is negotiating for a similar program at Monroe College to accommodate members who live uptown and in the Bronx that will lead to an associate’s degree in hospitality management with a culinary concentration. The program will include hands-on lab work at the state-of-the-art facility on Monroe College’s main campus. Credits are given for life experience and students can transfer college credits.

The union is also in labor-management meetings to renew its Career Training Program (CTP) for paraprofessionals and family workers that formerly was hosted by the College of New Rochelle. Eligible members can pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in Human Services from Monroe College at a downtown location and can take up to 18 credits per year. Promotions and salary steps are commensurate with college credits earned.

Francois said, “We continue to work to improve this union benefit that has a longstanding tradition of helping members realize their college goals and live up to their potential.”

For additional information on these programs and more, please email ppunch@dc37net.