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  Public Employee Press

PEP Feb 2004
Table of Contents
  La Voz
  Public Employee Press

We are family, and our family needs a raises

  "I am not here just for those who voted for me, I am here for every member in every local ."  

Executive Director
District Council 37, AFSCME

We made history at District Council 37 last month. We held the first fully democratic and fully contested election in the history of our union. Regardless of who was elected, this union and its members won.

Long gone are the days when elections at DC 37 were questionable. We have begun a new, vibrant tradition that will take root and grow.

DC 37 has been made stronger by this election. As in any democratic contest, issues are raised, questions debated and choices made. Like a family, our debates can get heated. But like a family, after we make a decision we all should come together. Every elected candidate must now think about what is best for the membership as a whole. We all must now work as one to improve the lives of the union’s membership. After all, that’s what we are here for.

I see my re-election as executive director as an expression of faith and confidence in my leadership. I assure all 125,000 members and 50,000 retirees that this great union — the largest union of municipal employees anywhere — will never let you down. As I told the delegates on election night, I am not just here just for those who voted for me, I am here for every member in every local.

I want to thank all the people who voted for me and the other officers. Words can never fully express how we feel about your support.

Our election was a perfect example of how union democracy is supposed to work. A rank-and-file Credentials Committee certified the delegates. A rank-and-file Election Committee set the rules in accordance with the constitutions of DC 37 and AFSCME, our national union. And under the direction of the Election Committee, the American Arbitration Association, which is well known for impartiality and skilled in handling ballots, counted the votes.

The delegates also elected our Executive Board. The new board includes members from both of the slates that ran for office. I see this as a tremendous opportunity for all of us to work together. I am calling on the board, the delegates and all of us to put aside past differences and work in unison for the benefit of our members. The members have spoken, and any divisiveness now will only play into management’s hands.

Now that the membership has heartily endorsed this administration, I am looking forward to finishing the work I started in my first term. We are already having some tremendous successes.

Our White Papers on contracting out and city waste are like a tree that fell in the forest with a huge, reverberating crash. According to the mayor’s latest budget proposal, the city will stop contracting out for office temps in at least a half-dozen agencies and will increase the civil service payroll by about 1,800.

Our political action program triumphed again in November as our volunteers achieved victory for 100 percent of the candidates we campaigned for.

Build the pressure for a pay increase
The big jobs ahead will take 100 percent unity and hard work from all of us at District Council 37. We are in what I hope is the final stage of contract negotiations (see page 5 of Public Employee Press, February 2004 issue). Although the city’s recent offer was not one we could accept, I have called for immediate, intensive negotiations.

We have already been too long without a pay raise. Food, transit fares, rent, tuition — everything we pay for — has gone up. Everything has gone up except our paychecks. We have to keep building the pressure until we get a fair contract.

DC 37 has emerged from our election with strong leadership, and our family spirit of unity will make us even more powerful.


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