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AFSCME DC37: ‘Blazing The Trail’ For The Rest Of Labor To Follow On Climate Justice

Published Sunday, April 14, 2019
by Joe Maniscalco/
AFSCME DC37: ‘Blazing The Trail’ For The Rest Of Labor To Follow On Climate Justice

(NEW YORK CITY) – American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District Council (DC) 37 AFSCME, the largest Municipal Union in town, is being hailed for championing contentious Green New Deal Legislation that is currently before the New York City Council - and “blazing the trail” for the rest of Organized Labor to follow

“This issue of climate change is ‘something that affects all of us,’” Working Families Party (WFP) National Director Maurice Mitchell told LaborPress at City Hall Park last week. “And the role of Organized Labor ‘is to be on the forefront of issues that impact their Rank-and-File and Working People in general’ – ‘and there’s no clearer issue than climate change.’  We think what the leadership at DC 37 is taking (on), ‘we anticipate many, many more Locals will be finding the opportunity to align with.’”

Mitchell’s comments come amidst increasing rancor surrounding Intro. 1253 - a City Council Bill seeking to retrofit the dirtiest polluting buildings in the city and thereby reducing Gotham’s overall Green House Gas Emissions by 7%. 

The effort enjoys the support of at least two-thirds of the City Council and the Mayor’s Office, but sits in the crosshairs of REBNY - the Real Estate Board of New York, which has been trying to stave off and/or water down similar legislation for 10 years.

Also last week, a coalition of property owners - including REBNY - fired off a letter to Council Member Costa Constantinides (Democrat-22nd District), the Chair of the Committee on the Environment and primary sponsor of Intro. 1253, which strongly objected to the bill in its current incarnation

Several Labor Unions - 32BJ Service Employees International Union (SEIU), International Brotherhood Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 3 and U.A. Plumbers Local 1 among them - were also signatories of the letter. 

But at a rally ahead of Intro. 1253’s official introduction to the City Council last week, DC37 Executive Director Henry Garrido said New York should be the leader in combatting climate change before it’s too late: “We at DC37 ‘believe leadership is about doing what is right, not doing what is popular.’  We saw the effects of Hurricane Sandy (in 2012).  ‘We will make sure that all of our Union’s political support is behind this bill.’  ‘We want to ensure that the bill is passed as is - and not whittled down to be some empty gesture.’”

According to the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, fewer than a dozen years remain before the built up Green House Gases in the atmosphere becomes irreversible and the catastrophic consequences unavoidable.  

“Our city is ‘uniquely vulnerable’ to climate change,” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (Democrat-3rd District) said.  “We saw what happened during Hurricane Sandy.  ‘We saw that our city was underwater in many places and that it can happen again this fall when hurricane season comes.’  ‘We have to act now.’”

New York City is attempting to cut Green House Gas Admissions by 80% over the next 30 years.  In 2016, two-thirds of the 52 million metric tons of Greenhouse Gasses pumped into the skies over New York City came from its buildings

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