Tax season is here! There are several free resources available to you to help with this year's tax filing. The IRS filing deadline is April 18.
DC 37's Municipal Employees Legal Services hosted a virtual Tax Tips webinar on Jan. 25. The session is now available online
for DC 37 members.
The Food Bank for NYC offers free, contactless tax preparation services for low-income New Yorkers. Get the refunds and credits you may be entitled to, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Call 646-981-6111, Mon. to Fri., 10 AM to 4 PM, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) is excited to coordinate the City’s annual Tax Season Initiative. New Yorkers who earned $80,000 or less in 2022, can use NYC Free Tax Prep to file with the help of IRS-certified volunteer preparers. For information about free Tax Prep services and eligibility for tax credits, visit nyc.gov/taxprep or call 311.
Uterine cancer is now recognized as a 9/11-related cancer, giving affected women access to World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program
and Victim Compensation Fund benefits, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced.
The decision follows more than a year of research, discussion, and opportunities for public comment. It makes uterine cancer the 69th
9/11-related cancer — and the first to be added to the 9/11 registry in nearly a decade. Despite evidence linking the disease to 9/11 toxins,
uterine cancer had been the only cancer that wasn’t covered.
The final rule takes effect immediately, allowing the WTC Health Program — a federal program that provides no-cost medical monitoring
and treatment for certified WTC-related health conditions — to begin covering treatment services as soon as possible for patients with certified
WTC-related uterine cancers. The program, administered by the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, is authorized for
the next 67 years (through 2090).
Hundreds of women currently enrolled in the program have uterine cancer — a number that is expected to increase as women who don’t
have another qualifying 9/11-related illness become eligible to enroll. Families of those who have died of 9/11-related uterine cancer are also
eligible to seek compensation.
In the past few years, lawmakers, 9/11 survivors and responders, and advocacy groups have advocated for the addition of uterine cancer to
the list of covered conditions. After extensive efforts and a recognition of the scientific data which supports the link between exposure to 9/11 toxins and uterine cancer, on Jan. 18, 2023, the WTCHP took the necessary step of adding uterine cancer as a 9/11-related condition. As such, 9/11 toxin exposure victims who are either experiencing symptoms of uterine cancer or have already been diagnosed with this condition, can seek medical monitoring and treatment funded by the WTCHP.
Prior to the WTCHP announcement, uterine cancer was the only cancer type that was not considered to be a 9/11-related health condition
because early on, most 9/11 first responders who participated in research studies were males. Unfortunately, uterine cancer was not on
the radar screen until the past five-to-10 years.
Now that the WTCHP covers all cancer types, no 9/11 survivor or responder who is suffering from uterine cancer – or any other cancer –
should be denied medical benefits under the WTCHP.
Sara Director, a 9/11 legal advocate and partner at Barasch & McGarry who represents numerous survivors and fought for the rule change, was
quoted as calling the decision “a huge victory” for women who survived 9/11, as well as those who lived and worked in the area around Ground
Zero in the weeks and months after the attack.
The two-decade delay in recognizing 9/11-related uterine cancer has been costly for affected women who have had to pay for expensive
Now that uterine cancer is on the list of 9/11-related health conditions, qualifying individuals who file claims with the WTCHP to seek medical
benefits may also be eligible to seek and obtain compensation under the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) that provides
financial compensation to responders and survivors who have suffered extensively because of their conditions.
Some individuals with 9/11-related conditions cannot work, thus leaving a financial hole that may not otherwise exist (absent the diagnosis of
a 9/11-related health condition). Moreover, the physical and mental pain and suffering associated with a 9/11-related condition warrants an
award of financial compensation The families of those who died from 9/11 related uterine cancer can now seek compensation for their losses
A statement from the WTCHP last May on the proposed rule change explained that exclusion of this particular cancer was due to “insufficient
evidence” to support adding it to the list of covered conditions. However, an advisory committee this past November unanimously approved the
recommendation to add uterine cancer to the list of diseases covered by the program for first responders and those close to the attacks.
Anyone seeking more information or a program application should go to www.cdc.gov/wtc/application
Under the Local 983 Constitution, the Local 983 Election Committee has the job of making arrangements for the local's elections and supervising those elections. We, the Local 983 Election Committee, are writing to update you about the status of the Local 983 election. While this update is a bit lengthy, we do believe the members of Local 983 are entitled to know why the election for officers has been delayed. Due to the risk of COVID, the Local 983 Election Committee decided to conduct the election both virtually and in person on June 14, 2022. Under this plan, members would have been able to choose the method of voting that best worked for them individually -- vote in person, on the internet, or via phone. This would have given members who didn’t want to vote in person due to the risks of COVID the chance to still vote.
Local 983 members Jolifer Noe, Carmen Rodriguez, Nativa Palmer, Eric Auguste, and Richard Rivera argued that allowing members to vote remotely violated the Local 983 Constitution. They sued the Election Committee and the union, and asked a judge to stop the election. They asked the judge to compel the Election Committee and the union to allow only in-person voting. The Election Committee was opposed to this, and, among other things, argued that the Local 983 Constitution did not require in-person voting.
The judge disagreed with the Election Committee and ruled that the Local 983 Constitution required in-person voting. He also dismissed the Committee’s concerns about the risks that in-person voting presented to our members. In a June 10 Order, he directed the Election Committee to provide him with an “Election Plan” that was consistent with his order, which also said that the Election Committee could not hold the election until the judge “vacates” his June 10 order.
The Election Committee disagreed strongly with the judge’s June 10 Order. We thought that (a) the Local 983 Constitution does not require in-person voting, and (b) that forcing members to run the risk of COVID exposure if they want to exercise their right to vote was wrong, not required by the Local 983 Constitution, and not required by the law.
The Election Committee’s lawyers appealed the June 10 Order, asking the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court to “stay” the June 10 order until it ruled on the appeal. On June 23, a judge from the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court issued a brief order that said the judge who issued the June 10 Order could not set a date for the Local 983 election.
On July 19, a panel of five Appellate Division of the Supreme Court judges issued an order saying that the judge who issued the June 10 order could not set a date for the election until the Election Committee’s appeal was decided.
The rest of the June 10 Order remains in effect, and the Election Committee is obligated to follow it. The June 10 Order requires the Election Committee to prepare an Election Plan, submit it to the people who sued, and then submit it to the Court. The Committee did just that and an Election Plan set an August 18 election date.
As the June 10 Order states that only in-person voting was allowed, and because the Election Committee has a duty to follow that order, the Election Plan said there could only be in-person voting.
To be clear, the Election Plan we submitted was done with the strong objection of the Election Committee, which believes that the court had no power to restrict voting to in-person only. We believe that by disallowing any other form of voting, and by compelling in-person voting, the court is putting members at risk of exposing themselves to COVID if they want to vote. However, because the Election Committee has a duty to follow the June 10 Order, we issued an Election Plan that obeyed that order.
While the Election Committee submitted the Election Plan, it did so “without prejudice to its pending appeal and pending motion under CPLR Section 5519.” In plain talk, that means that the Election Committee submitted the Election Plan because the court ordered us to do so in the June 10 Order, but we did not give up our legal arguments that the June 10 Order was wrongly decided. Since both the June 23 and July 19 orders of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court said that the lower court cannot set a date for the election, as of today, no election date has been set.
On July 20, the lawyer representing Jolifer Noe, Carmen Rodriguez, Nativa Palmer, Eric Auguste, and Richard Rivera asked the judge who issued the June 10 order to force the Election Committee to hold the election on August 18, and to force members to vote in-person if they want to vote.
The Election Committee opposed that request for two reasons:
The Election Committee still thinks it is wrong to force members to vote in-person because doing so will put members at risk of COVID exposure. We think that members should be able to vote remotely if they want to; it’s the safer option and it’s not forbidden by the Local 983 or AFSCME constitutions.
The July 19 order of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court's forbids the judge from setting an election date until it decides on the Election Committee’s appeal of the June 10 order, and that has not yet happened.
On July 26, the judge who issued the June 10 order heard arguments from the lawyers, agreed with the Election Committee, and decided that he did not have the power to order an election be held on August 18.
What does this all mean for you, the Local 983 member?
First, it means that there is no date set for the election. If anyone tells you that there is a date for the election, they’re wrong.
Second, it means that the Election Committee is still fighting for you, the members, to be allowed to vote remotely, and fighting against the attempt by Jolifer Noe, Carmen Rodriguez, Nativa Palmer, Eric Auguste, and Richard Rivera to force members to vote in-person. The Election Committee is doing this because we do not want a single member to catch COVID while waiting online to vote. We believe the Local 983 and AFSCME constitutions do not forbid remote voting.
Finally, it means that the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court will decide whether the judge who issued the June 10 order was right to do so. Until then, no election date will be set.
We will update you when we get more information.
Local 983 Election Committee
Local 983 is working with a Washington, D.C. law firm to recover damages for Local 983 members for overtime violations by the City. This firm has sued the City many times to recover money damages for overtime violations. Under the overtime law, each person must individually sign up to join the lawsuit. Don’t miss out!
To join, please complete the consent retainer found by Clicking Here >>
The income thresholds for Child Care Facilitated Enrollment have increased to 300% of Federal Poverty Levels (FPL) and now have much lower co-pays. The increase means more DC 37 members may be eligible for subsidized daycare programs for working families in New York City and Suffolk County, Long Island.
The increased FPL for the Child Care Facilitated Enrollment Project is retroactive to April 2022. On June 1, 2022, the cap on parental co-pays was lowered to one percent of a family’s income over the FPL. An updated fact sheet with the new income thresholds is available at dc37.net/about/services/childcare_subsidies. NYC residents can apply HERE.
Funds are available for income-eligible, working families who reside in the counties served by WDI, including Suffolk County, Long Island. The subsidy can be applied to licensed, registered, or legally exempt daycare, after-school, or summer camp programs. Apply at wdiny.org/childcare or call 631.743.0914.
The New York State Paid Family Leave benefit is expanded to included care for siblings as eligible dependents for leave. The PFL benefit is 12 weeks. The maximum weekly paid benefit is $971.61 or $1,943 bi-weekly. The contribution rate dropped from .511% of payroll to .455% of payroll. This union-negotiated benefit is available to nearly all DC 37 members, including members in the nonprofit and private sector locals.
For information visit paidfamilyleave.ny.gov/2023. Access the 2023 PFL benefits calculator HERE. For information on childcare and other programs for NYC residents, speak to your union rep or click HERE.
01.04.2023 - The New York City Council has introduced legislation (Int 0874-2023) to amend the Administrative Code that would allow for choice in retiree health care plans and is scheduled to hold a hearing on the legislation on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023. Unless this legislation passes, the arbitrator's binding decision to make the Medicare Advantage Plus Plan the one and only plan for retirees will take effect in July of this year. By passing the legislation, the Municipal Labor Committee can negotiate the rights of retirees to choose a plan from various plans that meets their needs.
12.15.2022 - As anticipated, a third-party arbitrator issued his decision in mid-December regarding your health benefits and the fund that pays for them. He verified that the Healthcare Stabilization Fund has run out of money, and directed the City and the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC) to finalize the terms of a Medicare Advantage Plan offered by Aetna to prepare for its implementation. The arbitrator’s decision also eliminates all options for retirees except HIP VIP and Medicare Advantage. That’s why I have warned for months that the Administrative Code must change in order to protect retirees’ choice in their healthcare plans. The time to act on Administrative Code 12-126 is now.
Additional highlights of the decision:
● The City and MLC should proceed to negotiate appropriate terms for a Medicare Advantage plan with Aetna within the next 25 calendar days.
● If the MLC does not approve the Aetna Medicare Advantage plan, the matter would revert to the arbitrator for consideration of how benefits provided for by the Stabilization Fund are to be paid for, including the imposition of premiums on actives and pre-65 retirees.
● The City Council has 45 calendar days to amend the Administrative Code to permit retirees to buy into Senior Care, or Senior Care will no longer be an offering.
We’re at a critical juncture with a severe timeline, and we need your help to put pressure on those who have the power to protect city workers and retirees from shouldering premiums and losing the power of choice. It is clearer than ever that we need the City Council to update Administrative Code 12-126.
Actions You Can Take Now:
1) Call your City Council Member. Enter your address here to find your Council Member’s District Office phone number. Call and tell them: Protect premium-free healthcare for City employees and amend Administrative Code 12-126!
2) Write a letter to your Council Member. Click this link to send a pre-populated email to their office.
3) Share this message with your union sisters and brothers. Encourage them to join us and take action to protect our benefits.
You should also be aware that certain groups are spreading misinformation to convince you to contribute money to their cause. We have received multiple reports of active and retired DC 37 members being solicited for donations.
With your support and advocacy, we will navigate this next month Union Strong and come out even stronger on the other side.
If your dream is to become a park ranger, now's your chance! The city is hiring 50 Urban Park Rangers to help bring fun and educational nature and wildlife programs to our parks. Plus, the hat is really cool. Apply Here >>
The 2022 New York State Budget Bill was signed into law by Governor Hochul on April 9, 2022. Within Chapter 56 of this bill, three parts (Part HH, Part SS and Part TT) amend NYS Retirement and Social Security Law (RSSL), and impact certain NYCERS members and retirees. Read More >>
July 12, 2022 - laborpress.org
A 2003 EPA Inspector General report held the EPA accountable for mischaracterizing the air quality in lower Manhattan as "safe to breathe." A growing coalition of unions and survivors say it's time for the City of New York to come clean with what then Mayor Rudy Giuliani knew and when he knew it about the toxic air that has killed thousands and sickened tens of thousands. Read More >>
Feb. 19, 2023 - nypost.com
A lethargic, possibly cold-shocked 4-foot-long alligator was hauled from Brooklyn’s Prospect Park Lake early Sunday.
Read More >>
Watch Video Recap >>
Local 983 joined more than 100 union activists and health care advocates, NYC Council Member Julie Menin, and other elected officials on Dec. 7 to rally in support of the Healthcare Accountability and Consumer Protection Act. The rally at City Hall is part of an ongoing campaign to reduce health care and hospital costs for working families by the Coalition for Affordable Hospitals. The just-introduced City Council’s Healthcare Accountability and Consumer Protection Act would increase oversight over what the New York City’s private hospital systems charge for medical procedures. The creation of a first-in-the-nation Office of Healthcare Accountability would mandate that every NYC hospital publish the price for all medical procedures, audit city expenditures on employee-related health care costs, and grade hospitals on their compliance with pricing transparency measures. Actress Susan Sarandon, an outspoken advocate for reforming health care, met with Local 983 President Joe Puleo.
Dec. 7, 2022
Local 983 and PlayFair rallied on the steps of City Hall on Dec. 7 for capital reform. The union supports legislation introduced by Council Member Shekar Krishnan, Chair of the Parks Committee, that would reduce project durations by 25%. This is a critical first step toward citywide reform. President Joe Puleo addressed the crowd by saying “we need more Parks workers. We need the manpower, and we need our men and women to get out there every day and do what they do best. The Parks Department is the largest landowner in the city of New York but it only gets a fraction of 1% of the budget. All we’re asking for is 1%.”
July 1, 2022 - laborpress.org
The first person that Victoria Cooley, 34, a seasonal aid with the New York City Parks Department, called when she was told this week that June 30 was her last day was Joe Puleo, president of DC 37’s Local 983, which represents her and several thousand blue collar as well as skilled trades workers that work for the city.
During a phone interview, Puleo told LaborPress Cooley was one of 200 entry level workers that were slated to be terminated at the end of the fiscal year before July 1. They had originally been hired as part of Mayor de Blasio New Deal-inspired City Cleanup Corp that was funded with American Rescue Plan funds from Washington that were temporary. Read More >>
In August, President Biden announced a plan to provide one-time, pandemic-connected debt relief to more than 40 million Americans with federal student loans.
Since making the application available, more than 26 million borrowers provided the information needed to be considered for debt relief. Already, the Department of Education has approved 16 million of those applications.
But lawsuits filed by Republican elected officials and special interests are challenging the program, stopping our ability to discharge debt and accept additional applications. We are confident in our legal authority to carry out this program, which is why the Department of Justice has asked the Supreme Court to lift the lower court’s injunction against the program and suggested that if the Court does not do so, it could take up this case.
It is unfair to ask tens of millions of borrowers to resume payments on their student debt when they would be eligible for relief– if not for these lawsuits. Therefore, the pause on student loan payments and collections has been extended.
The student loan payment pause is extended until 60 days after the Department is permitted to implement the debt relief program, or the litigation is resolved. If the program has not been implemented and the litigation has not been resolved by June 30, 2023, payments will resume 60 days after that. Borrowers will be notified before payments restart.
Visit StudentAid.gov to explore more affordable repayment options, other debt forgiveness programs, and more.
President Joe Biden announced on Aug. 24 an income-based student debt relief program that forgives up to $20,000 in student loan debt. He also extended the CARES Act student loan forbearance through Jan. 1, 2023.
The U.S. Department of Education will forgive up to $20,000 in outstanding student debt for borrowers who received Pell Grants and up to $10,000 in student debt for those who did not receive Pell Grants. Loan forgiveness will not be treated as taxable income.
Individuals who earn less than $125,000 and couples who earn up to $250,000, in years 2020 and 2021 only, qualify for student debt relief. The U.S. Department of Education has income information on file for about 8 million borrowers who may qualify to have their college debts canceled automatically. Other borrowers will have to apply using a new, simplified application that is in development.
Students currently enrolled in college who have student loans and parents with Parent PLUS loans are eligible to apply for student debt forgiveness.
Borrowers with outstanding undergraduate loans can apply to cap their student loan payments at 5 percent of their monthly income.
The Department of Education’s website should be ready to accept applications for student debt relief in December 2022.
The pause on direct student loan payments, interest accrual and collection activity on direct student loans in default will remain in place through Jan. 1, 2023, when payments will resume. The administration indicated this would be the final payment pause extension.
Gov. Kathy Hochul recently signed legislation to expand and simplify public employee access to the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. The law establishes uniformity around what qualifies as full-time employment for the purposes of accessing PSLF and allows public service employers to certify employment on behalf of workers.
PSLF is a federal program that incentivizes public service work by canceling a portion of borrowers' federal student loans. The program requires borrowers to be full-time employees of an eligible public service employer and make 120 qualifying payments towards their student loan, after which the remainder of their federal student loan debt is forgiven. Any student loan debt that is forgiven under this program will not be subject to tax under New York State tax law.
The new law (Chapter 562) addresses barriers to accessing PSLF by:
Clarifying the legal definitions of key terms such as, "certifying employment," "employee," "full-time," "public service employer," "public service loan forgiveness form," and "Public service loan forgiveness program;"
Setting a standard hourly threshold for full-time employment at 30 hours per week for the purposes of accessing PSLF and clarifying standardized prep time to be included in such calculation for faculty and teachers; and
Allowing public service employers to certify employment on behalf of individuals or groups of employees directly with the U.S. Department of Education.
By Diane S. Williams
If you’ve ever given a shout out, thank Ralph McDaniels, host and creator of New York City’s most successful public television show, Video Music Box (VMB).
McDaniels, who is also known as ‘Uncle Ralph,’ is the Queens Public Library hip-hop coordinator and historian, and a member of Queens Library Guild Local 1321. He hosts live DJ vinyl sessions on Instagram and Facebook to introduce the next generation to hip-hop culture. Read More >>
Article by Pete Levine - Photo by Ranger Shantel Mena
Oct. 17, 2022 - afscme.org
Ask most people what they think of when they think of a park ranger, and you’ll probably get a romantic image of a lone figure perched high above a Western vista, scanning for smoke.
But just as our wildernesses need trained professionals to safeguard them and engage the patrons who visit them, so do our cities’ parks. And those professionals – like urban park ranger and AFSCME Never Quit Service Award winner Harry Aguilar – bring their own unique set of skills to the job.
About a year ago, 26-year-old Aguilar was hired alongside fellow Local 983 (DC 37) member Salvatore Asaro as part of a new cohort of New York City urban park rangers. Assigned to the borough of Queens, Asaro quickly noticed that Aguilar brought something special to the role, particularly when it came to connecting with the public. Read More >>
AFSCME honors members who demonstrate true dedication to their work. Watch the Video >>
We are asking our traffic family to come together once again to help one of our own, TEA 3 Roderick Holder, who was suspended by NYPD while towing in the 42 PCT area. Brother Holder declined a direct order to tow a vehicle under a Bogus NO Parking Anytime sign nailed to a tree. If you would like to contribute to help our union brother, call our Local 983 Bronx Tow Shop Steward Sandra Lynch at 917.796.2645. Any amount will be appreciated. Donations are not for legal assistance as Local 983 has already assigned him legal counsel. In Solidarity!
Covid-19 News and Updates >>
Union Settles Illegal Transfer of TEA III >>
50th NYC Marathon Gets a boost from Public Workers >>
Bloomberg’s Olympic Swimming Pool Is Crumbling, Leaving Queens High and Dry >>
Parks Workers Help Homeless Sisters Get Safe Shelter >>
Parks Worker Saves Kid from Coney Island Jetty >>
ACHR Michael Sasso Helps Staten Island Driver in Fatal Crash >>
Local 983 Enrolls 1K+ New Parks CSAs >>