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  Public Employee Press

PEP Feb 2001
Table of Contents
  La Voz

Public Employee Press


Bahnken honored

Patrick J. Bahnken, president of Emergency Medical Service Technicians and Paramedics Local 2507, was named “Union Leader of the Year” for 2000 by the Council of Jewish Organizations in Civil Service. COJO President Lou Weiser presented the award Oct. 8.

The plaque cited Bahnken for “outstanding leadership in protecting the rights and benefits of his members and the community they serve.”

“I felt truly honored to have been selected by COJO for this award, an honor which has also been given to other prominent civil service leaders,” Bahnken said.

Union founder Dorothy Epstein now a member of SSEU Local 371

Dorothy Epstein, a founder of unionism in the Dept. of Social Services in the 1930s and an organizer ever since, became an honorary member of SSEU Local 371 on Nov. 15.

During the Great Depression, the union she helped create brought substantial representation of minorities, women and socialists to the 1936 founding convention of AFSCME, DC 37’s parent union. After her union was destroyed by McCarthyism in the early 1950s, members from its Welfare Dept. unit formed DC 37’s Local 371 and others helped build the independent Social Service Employees Union. The two merged in 1969 as SSEU Local 371. The local’s 300 delegates voted unanimously to honor Ms. Epstein, and President Charles Ensley presented a plaque citing her as “a crusader for seven decades in the fight for labor rights, civil rights and senior rights.”

“My heart and my energies have always been in sync with a militant labor movement,” she said.

Ms. Epstein told the delegates, “There is still a lot of work to be done, but with wonderful people like yourselves and your president, we will win a better day of full social justice.”

Local 768 award to Albert Willingham, shop steward and editor

Albert Willingham, a Local 768 Shop Steward and editor of the local’s newsletter, received the Helen Smith Award for union leadership and exemplary dedication at the annual Helen Smith Scholarship Dinner Dance on Nov 18.

Local President and DC 37 Secretary Helen Greene said that the award is given every year to a member who has exhibited the kind of leadership and union dedication that former President Helen Smith strived for in her years as head of Local 768.

“Albert Willingham has not only worked hard for the members all year, but he has gone beyond the call of duty as Shop Steward as well,” Greene said. Mr. Willingham works at Queens Hospital, where he is a Mental Health Assistant.

Greene said the award was established nine years ago to recognize the important role the late Ms. Smith had in forming the local.

Labor journalism judges give high rating to PEP’s focus on members

DC 37’s Public Employee Press won second prize for general excellence among union newspapers in the annual contest sponsored by the International Labor Communications Association. PEP’s George Cohen won the contest’s First Award for photography. DC 37 Administrator Lee Saunders presented the award to the staff of PEP at the Nov. 28 delegates meeting. “They are doing a tremendous job of keeping our members informed,” he said.

PEP was selected by the contest judges from 1,297 entries by 156 unions. The award was based on issues published in 1999. The judges wrote: “This publication has come alive, much like the union itself. New activism and commitment really comes through in these pages. Energizing.”

PEP Editor Bill Schleicher said the staff enjoys “putting out a newspaper that focuses on the membership in a union that focuses on the membership. DC 37 is back and PEP is back and we are proud to be your newspaper.”

Civil Service Technical Guild celebrates Diwali, the Indian “Festival of Lights”

As part of an ongoing tribute to the diversity of its members, Civil Service Technical Guild Local 375 celebrated the Indian holiday of Diwali, the “Festival of Lights,” on Nov. 15.

“Diwali is celebrated in the fall throughout India as a national festival crossing religious lines,” said Local 375 President Uma Kutwal.

“Because our local has so many members of Indian heritage, we wanted to have our own Diwali celebration.”

The Local 375 Diwali event featured a program of folk music presented by members’ children in traditional Indian dress, and a delicious buffet of Indian food.

Annual honor goes to TA official

At the celebration, the local also honors a prominent individual of Indian descent. This year’s honoree was Mysore Nagaraja, the chief engineer and a vice president at the Transit Authority, where he oversees the TA’s $17 billion capital program.

The Deputy General Counsel of India, R.V. Warjri, also attended and delivered the universal message of Diwali as the “victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance.”

The event was organized by the Local 375 Diwali Celebration Committee, chaired by Bobby Shah of DEP.


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