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PEP Jul-Aug 2013
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Public Employee Press

Partners for a better New York
Labor, faith, community


PEP photos by James McCray, Hy-Sync Productions  

COALITION-BUILDING IS VITAL, DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts tells New York AFSCME Labor, Faith and Community Outreach Program conference participants
May 4 at District Council 1707.

The strength of any organization alone is limited, but in a broad coalition we can mount a stronger fight against the privatization that wipes out our jobs as it destroys health care and other community services," DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts told participants at the May 4 conference of the New York AFSCME Labor, Faith and Community Outreach Program.

Almost 200 activists from community and faithbased groups and DC 37, DC 1707 and the Civil Service Employees Association joined at the Saturday conference and training session at DC 1707. The outreach program is an initiative of DC 37's parent national union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which has supported the living wage campaign and justice for upstate farm workers.

"It is important for us to build coalitions with a wide range of New Yorkers, whether they are union members or not," said Roberts, "to unite the struggles of our members, the community and the patients and service recipients."

People power

Eddie Rodriguez
Local 1549 President

Naomi Walker

Rev. Terrence Melvin

DC 1707 Executive Director Raglan George told the activists that "We might not have the money, but we have the power because we have the people."

DC 37 and Local 1549 President Eddie Rodriguez introduced keynote speaker Naomi Walker, an assistant to AFSCME President Lee Saunders. "We need as many friends as possible in the fight against privatization," she said.

New York State AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer the Rev. Terrence Melvin gave a fiery actionfocused speech and CSEA Region 2 Executive Director Lester Crockett urged the coalition to fight together for quality health care.

AFSCME's Yolanda Medina, affiliate staff facilitators and political action staff "played an important role in putting this program together and getting members involved," said DC 37 Field Operations Director Barbara Edmonds.

"Our eventual goal is to build strong relationships among union members and leaders and worshippers in religious institutions to work together for the common good to protect the vital public services we provide and create the Beloved Community that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for."

For more information or to get involved, members can email laborfaithcomgroup@gmail.com or click on the Labor, Faith, and Community Outreach Program icon at the DC 37 website, www.dc37.net.

The conference included workshops led by DC 37 Political Director Wanda Williams and DC 37 and AFSCME staff on registering voters and grassroots outreach to elect a mayor who will represent all New Yorkers instead of favoring the wealthy 1 percent. Rabbi Michael Feinberg of the Greater New York Labor Religion Coalition and AFSCME's Kevin Hanes led a training session on improving communication skills.

"Our message is simple: Build a better New York for everyone," said Hanes.

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