The past two years brought us to this moment, where our collective power is more critical than ever in shaping the future of New York’s working class.
Both rounds of the New York State primaries are complete, and with the strength of DC 37 behind them, dozens of pro-labor candidates are on the ballot for the Nov. 8 General Election. Our success at the polls is a reaffirmation of our union’s influence and bolsters our efforts to drive pro-labor legislation at all levels of government.
In Albany this year, we lobbied Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Legislature for hazard pay and the state responded by creating a fund for bonuses for our frontline health care workers. We won pay increases for our home health care workforce, significant child care subsidies for at-risk families, and needed funding for the CUNY programs in which many of our members are enrolled.
We also urged legislators to help reduce health care costs for union members. For too long, New York City’s private hospitals have made backroom deals with insurance companies to prioritize their profits over our people. This places a considerable burden on union members and their families, and enormous pressure on the Health and Security Funds of DC 37 and other City unions.
To fight this corruption, we joined our sisters and brothers in fellow unions to form the Coalition for Affordable Hospitals. Due to our intensive lobbying efforts, the State legislature passed the HEAL Act, which requires transparency in hospital billing and pricing. The HEAL Act now sits on the governor’s desk. Recently, the Coalition sent the governor a letter urging her to sign the bill.
We heard from our employees in state and local agencies that changes were needed to the formula in which vesting is calculated, and we worked to secure reforms in Tier 6. Due to our advocacy, Tier 6 members are now vested to earn a pension after five years of service instead of 10. Because of this agreement, we have a pathway toward further reforms next year.
In this year’s City budget, we beat back cuts in funding and layoffs in the Parks Department and public libraries. We worked with our allies on the City Council to secure funding for public housing, child care subsidies, and improvements to our school kitchens.
After the U.S. Supreme Court’s outrageous decisions against women’s health care with the dismantling of Roe v. Wade, and the state’s longstanding gun safety laws in NYSRPA v. Bruen, we immediately took to the streets in protest and directly engaged with elected leaders.
Our activism garnered immediate results. Thanks to the leadership of the governor and Attorney General Letitia James, the state blunted the impact of both Supreme Court decisions by passing laws to protect women’s access to reproductive health care and privacy, and quickly implemented regulations to protect our communities from the specter of gun violence the Bruen decision would make worse.
In 2019, DC 37 played a decisive role in the effort to pass the Climate Mobilization Act, also known as Local Law 97. This is the cornerstone of our campaign to fight climate change and make New York a sustainable, healthy city for working class families.
Our union plays a significant part in preparing a climate-ready NYC. The DC 37 Green Jobs Training Initiative, administered through the DC 37 Education Fund, trains workers to operate and maintain services in sustainable building, engineering, and technical maintenance. This is an opportunity to create a well-trained — and unionized — green workforce to meet the transformative goals set by Local Law 97.
This fall, we begin collective bargaining negotiations with Mayor Eric Adams’ administration to secure a new contract for our City workers. Thank you for speaking up at our June rally and taking the time to respond to our survey to share your priorities. Your input is critical to finalizing the union’s demands, as is your participation in our political action.
You have gone too long without a fair wage increase and appropriate protections in place to keep you safe while you put your life on the line again and again for this city. The next few months will be a brutal fight, but rest assured, we will be relentless at the bargaining table for you, our members.
Without us, this city never would have recovered as it has from the pandemic, but we’re weary of receiving recognition without meaningful action. It is incumbent upon the mayor and his administration to provide necessary resources for our members to rebuild and confront the ever-increasing cost of living.
While we have accomplished much this year, there is too much on the line for DC 37 to lose momentum. Our voice is our power, our force is our strength, our members are the lifeblood of this city.
This union moves in only one direction: forward, together.