By ALFREDO ALVARADO
The new chair of the DC 37 Health/Disability Advisory Committee, Local 372 President Shaun D. Francois I, welcomed members to their April 3 meeting at the union. Francois was appointed to chair the committee after Eileen Muller retired. Muller was also president of Brooklyn Library Guild Local 1482.
One of the issues the committee plans to address is Access-A-Ride. “Members have raised a concern about the quality of service they provide,” said Francois. Access-A-Ride is operated by private carriers under contract to the city and provides transportation service for New Yorkers who are not able to get around using the subway or bus. Many union members and activists depend on the service to attend meetings at DC 37. “We want to build a better relationship with this company,” said Francois.
The union’s Health/Disability Advisory Committee advocates on behalf of individuals with health issues and works to educate members about these concerns. “We’re going to work hard to make sure everyone is aware that because you’re disabled does not necessarily mean you’re unable,” said the new chair at his first meeting.
Autism is another health concern the committee plans to address. Nicole Thornton, a representative from Autism Speaks NYC, will be the guest speaker at the committee’s June 12 meeting. “A lot of our members have children who are dealing with autism, so we want to make sure they get some assistance and Autism Speaks NYC is a great resource,” the committee chair added. Identifying resources to help members cope with disability issues is also another goal of the committee.
Francois plans invite activists and professionals who deal with mental health and disability issues to the committee’s monthly meetings. “We extended an invitation for Chirlane McCray to come and speak, we know these issues are important to her,” said Francois of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife.
The committee will be meeting once a month on the second Tuesday of the month at DC 37 headquarters in Manhattan.