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To Collaborate On Health Care & Child Care Issues, AFSCME DC 1707 Merges Into AFSCME DC 37 ‘In Order To Pool Forces & Consolidate Operations’

Published Thursday, September 26, 2019
by Crystal Lewis/The Chief Leader
To Collaborate On Health Care & Child Care Issues, AFSCME DC 1707 Merges Into AFSCME DC 37 ‘In Order To Pool Forces & Consolidate Operations’

(NEW YORK CITY) - “We’re building a ‘bolder’ Union,” American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District Council 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido announced regarding the decision to bring AFSCME District Council 1707 under its banner. “It ‘makes sense for us to learn from each other and grow with each other.’”

DC 37, which represents 125,000 New York City Employees, began talks earlier this year with the Union that represents 20,000 Non-Profit Workers in the Early-Childhood Education and Home Health-Care Industries.

The idea was sparked by both Unions’ National Affiliate, AFSCME.

Garrido said that there was a growing trend across the country of Unions consolidating power.

There were several reasons it made sense to unify with DC 1707, he said, including a shared interest in the future of the Cultural Institutions Retirement System, which provides retirement benefits to DC 37-represented Staff at organizations such as the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the American Museum of Natural History.

The pension system, which also provides benefits to Day Care Employees, became underfunded during former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Administration after hundreds of early-childhood centers were either privatized or closed.

“We were ‘both in a situation where we were concerned our Members’ pensions would be affected,’” Garrido explained.

DC 1707 Executive Director Kim Medina said another reason to join forces was the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus decision, which determined Public Employee Unions can no longer collect Agency Fee payments from non-members.

Unions across the country feared the ruling would hurt their funding: in Right-To-Work (for less) States, which have laws that prevent Union Membership and paying dues from being conditions of employment, participation in Unions has declined.

“There’s ‘strength in numbers,’” she said following a tentative deal between her Union and the Day Care Council of New York that ended a decades-long gap in starting salaries between certified Teachers who work at community-based day-care centers and those who work for the Department of Education.

DC 1707 had aggressively campaigned for an end to the pay disparity: Certified Teachers who worked at community-based centers had a starting salary of $42,000, $17,000 less than Staff working for the DOE.

Garrido assisted in the negotiations for a deal that would boost 300 Teachers’ salaries by up to $20,000 by October 1st, 2021.

Another 3,900 non-certified Teachers and Support Staff would receive a 2.75% wage increase and a $1,800 signing bonus.

“Immediately after we partnered, ‘we’ve already granted the Workers a victory,’” he said.

Medina will remain DC 1707’s Executive Director and the Union is staying at its headquarters in Midtown West.

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