“The union is there when you need help. It provides job security.”
By GREGORY N. HEIRES
Local 1549 member Geraldine Morina signed her union card in 1992, and since then she has remained a passionate activist.
Morina, 63, is the local’s chapter chair at the Dept. of Transportation, where she enjoys being an advocate for her coworkers and a source of information about their workplace rights and union benefits. With a keen interest in politics, she keeps members updated on DC 37’s legislative and electoral priorities.
“A lot of members are unaware of what the union provides,” said Morina, a clerical associate level 3. “I tell them they should view their membership as an investment. The union is there when you need help. It provides job security.”
Through her own experience, Morina learned how joining the union makes a good investment. She once avoided being evicted from her apartment by going to the union’s Municipal Employees Legal Services (MELS) for help.
Morina wears many hats. She chairs the local’s Constitution and Bylaws Committee, serves on the executive board and is a member of Local 1549’s political action and finance committees.
As chapter chair, Morina acts as the local’s contract enforcer at not only DOT but also the Dept. of Parks and Recreation and the Taxi and Limousine Commission. Her tasks also include distributing fliers, urging coworkers to get involved, encouraging workers to sign union cards and urging members to participate in political activities.
Morina is quick to call the union when a member comes to her with a legitimate complaint about a violation of the citywide workplace contract.
“Helping members—I get joy out of that,” Morina said. “When I see the way they are treating people is not right, I want to do something about that.”
Currently, Morina is helping Sr. Council Rep Eddie Douglass on a reverse out-of-title grievance at DOT. Such grievances are used when a non-member is working in a Local 1549 position and getting paid more.
“I am never going to leave 1549,” said Morina, who expects to retire in three years, knowing that she will have the security of a traditional pension protected by the union.
The DC 37 Blog is an online publication of District Council 37, AFSCME, which represents 125,000 municipal employees in New York City. This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of Public Employee Press.
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