By MIKE LEE
DC 37’s legendary “Green Machine” did it again.
Thanks to the tireless effort by the union’s hundreds of volunteers activated by the Political Action Department, DC 37-endorsed candidates stormed to victory in several key New York City Council races in the June 27 Democratic Party primary.
Significantly, community activist Chris Banks defeated incumbent Council Member Charles Barron in Brooklyn’s 42nd Council District, which includes East New York, New Lots, Remsen Village, Spring Creek, and Starrett City.
Through a massive Get Out the Vote effort that included door knocking in the field and phone banking fellow union members, DC 37 went all out for Banks who won the primary over Barron 50% to 43%.
In the campaign’s final days, Banks personally thanked DC 37 canvassers for their help in what later became his stunning victory.
Since 2001, Barron has served in the City Council and the New York State Assembly. Banks’ victory in the primary was a message that the time has come for new leadership in the district, and that union support was critical in securing the win.
“It’s clear from the primary results that our efforts in the field motivated turnout at the polls for the candidates we endorsed,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido. “Our members entrust us to help elect officials who support working families and their interests, and we dedicated our resources to carry out that charge.”
“It’s About Us, Together”
Since the late spring, the union’s Political Action Department sprang into action to mobilize DC 37 members and retirees as Volunteer Member Organizers (VMOs) in a grassroots effort to engage potential voters.
Hundreds of VMOs spread out to specific locations throughout New York City, except Staten Island that had no elections, knocking on apartment doors, leafletting, and visiting homes to encourage DC 37 to vote for the union’s candidates. Other volunteers worked the phones at DC 37 headquarters in downtown Manhattan.
The VMOs were passionate about their work, with some working long hours canvassing neighborhoods to speak one-on-one with potential voters and to drop off campaign literature.
In the Bronx’s 14th District, while volunteering in support of incumbent City Council Member Pierina Sanchez, VMOs spoke about why they believed volunteering was essential to support the union’s candidates.
Michael Bedford, a retired NYC Municipal Hospitals Employees Union Local 420 member and activist, spoke of his motive to get involved in the campaign.
“I am always union, and though retired, I remain union,” Bedford said. “It’s about us together, backing the people who support us.”
Before his retirement, Bedford worked as a Supply Technician at Bellevue Hospital’s Surgery Department. “This union is not just me or you,” he said. “It is about us, together.”
Sharina Campbell, a retired Local 372 Board of Education Employees School Crossing Guard, School Lunch Helper, and Postal Service Worker, volunteered with DC 37.
“Since I worked for the post office, I used to do political work with their union,” Campbell said. “Now that I’m retired, I want to work in support of DC 37 and I’m willing, ready, and able. The people we elect are our voice, so we must have good people to represent us.”
Labor Strong 2023
Along with the efforts of the DC 37 volunteer member organizers, the union’s partnership with the Labor Strong coalition had an impact in several important primary elections.
The Labor Strong coalition includes five of the most influential unions in New York City: DC 37, SEIU 32BJ, Communications Workers of America, the New York State Nurses Association, and the Hotel Trades Council.
In 2021, the coalition’s endorsements helped elect Mayor Eric Adams and other prominent New York City officials, including the most politically progressive New York City Council.
This year, DC 37’s and Labor Strong’s support was crucial in winning several critical City Council primaries, including those for Carmen De La Rosa, Marjorie Velazquez, and Pierina Sanchez.
With the stage set for the Nov. 7 General Election, the union’s Volunteer Member Organizers will be back in action, knocking doors and working the phones to build on our union power.
To get involved in the DC 37 Community Alliance, scan the QR code below or contact the DC 37 Political Action Department at email@example.com