Points of Unity

June 30th, 2020


We are a group of public servants unionized under the umbrella federation of District Council 37 in New York City. Within our caucus, various civil service titles, city agencies, and DC37 locals are represented. As progressives in a city that houses Wall Street, we reject the prioritization of profit over people’s needs, which we see as the central organizing concept of the capitalist world in which we live.  We are the workers of the city, and that means that the city cannot work without us.

Our caucus exists to achieve these goals:

  1. Create a fighting labor movement
    When it comes to negotiations over contracts & workplace conditions, we believe that negotiations should prioritize the participation and the voices of rank and file members. In addition, collective bargaining and negotiations should not be the sole means of winning our demands. Alternatively, we endorse the full range of strategies developed throughout the course of the union movement to win our demands. These tactics prioritize the mobilization of the membership into discussions to collectively decide on what our demands are and how to FIGHT for them.  We want to build unity between locals and unions on the job and in negotiations. 
  1. Increase Democracy & Transparency
    We strive for more democratic decision-making and increased transparency in the union.  We work in a massive union that represents the workers of one of the largest cities in the world. In this massive government, it is easy for the little people to be ignored.  We want to empower the rank & file workers within the union and in our agencies so that we can better perform our jobs and advocate for our workplaces.
    1. We also call on all city agencies to open their books to workers and the public to make clear how the people’s resources are being utilized.
    2. We plan to democratize DC37 and turn it into an organization that fights on behalf of its members and the communities we serve. We demand more accessible mass membership meetings that allow for virtual attendance, start times an hour after work hours, (and childcare opportunities for members), and have sign language interpreters. These meetings should be for within & across the locals to further debate and discuss the direction of our unions, the labor movement, and social issues in our communities. Union democracy means union outreach to the rank and file, election of all union officers, union salaries equal to the workers they represent, and term limits to ensure new, dynamic leadership.
  1. Pursue Social Justice Unionism
    We reject the business & service union model which currently makes many union members think that DC37 exists only to provide benefits & services. We ground ourselves in the militant struggles of the past which were waged to establish the right of working people to form unions and the formation of DC37 specifically. We reject a narrow focus on workplace & contract negotiations and see ourselves as part of the wider working class and oppressed people’s fights for equal rights and justice. This caucus was formed during the COVID-19 crisis, and so we also come forward in support of a universal healthcare system, for the benefit of all our coworkers as well as our clients, visitors, students, and fellow city residents. We reject the city’s attempts to pit public sector workers against the communities we serve. Towards this end, as we form our caucus in the midst of a nationwide uprising against racist police murder we are duty bound to call for COPS OUT OF OUR UNION FEDERATIONS & OUR SCHOOLS!
  1. For the repeal of Section 210 of the Taylor Law
    Following a series of labor unrest in 1960s New York, the Taylor Law was put into effect to codify public sector employees rights to form a union among other gains. However, union leaders also struck a devil’s bargain with the state to prohibit public sector workers from striking, thereby stripping their labor movement of its most powerful weapon: the ability to withhold labor. As such we are for the repeal of the prohibition on public employees from striking.
  1. A Living Wage for Full-Time Employees

So many of our members are required to live within the five boroughs of the city of New York, while at the same time the city pays so many of us poverty wages. This results in many of our Union siblings living in homeless shelters or struggling to stay in their homes in communities they’ve helped build. This must end. Full-time, unionized employees deserve a living wage. 

  1. No to austerity, make Wall Street pay for the crises
    During a capitalist crisis of recession, the government seeks to balance the budget on the backs of working people by reducing our wages, benefits, pensions, and by cutting back on public services. These austerity measures fall the hardest on people of color, especially Black people, women, children, immigrants, and the poor. As part of a powerful union movement, we demand a system of progressive taxation, an end to tax breaks to real estate developers, and the enforcement of the Stock Transfer Tax as a way to raise revenue and ensure that those in the financial & real estate industries responsible for the crises are also responsible for paying for the crisis.The privatization of public services and outsourcing of public work has to stop.  Relying on the marketplace to provide basic needs is an attack on public sector workers and the people of the city.  We need more city workers, not less.   We will stand up against the efforts to cut our social safety net and privatize the public sector.
  1. Workers’ Struggle has no Borders
    We are for a united front with other workers, in and out of unions, within the city, in the state, in the US & across the world.

The DC 37 Progressive Caucus welcomes those who agree with our points of unity. We are also open to coalition building with others  to make our union, city & world a better place, including with those who are yet to agree with our principles.

Leadership Structure

We first prioritize establishing strong, working relationships with each other prior to publishing by-laws. We acknowledge that our caucus falls within an umbrella federation of many locals of varying sizes. Although this poses communication and collaboration challenges it can best be bridged through the practice of our common struggle rather than through abstract rules.

That said, we understand that to coordinate our work we will need identified leaders to carry out certain tasks. As such we are establishing an interim Organizing Committee (OC) of 9 members from across the locals who will serve for a 6 month period. The interim OC shall consist of Officers & at large members who will determine their roles while elected, but will generally include the following officers: 

  • Chair or Co-Chairs – serves chair of the Organizing Committee (OC)
  • Secretary – responsible for taking and circulating minutes during meetings
  • Communications Coordinator – manages social media/website, press contacts
  • Research Analyst – updates on major news headlines, data release, drafts documents
  • Events Coordinator – organizes events/direct action, builds relationships with ally organizations/groups

To best involve the wider membership in deciding the direction of the caucus, the OC will decide upon a series of Committees in which members can work and will designate committee heads who report back to the OC and the wider body at scheduled meetings.

We strive to have an Organizing Committee that represents the breadth of experiences of the larger union. It is our goal to elevate to positions of power in this Caucus those voices who are traditionally left out. Specifically, but not limited to: women, non-binary, trans, and gender non-conforming members; members who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color; members with different citizenship status; members with disabilities; and members from a variety of workplaces. While it might take time to reach these goals, we will strive to meet them every election cycle.

The caucus will meet biweekly on Thursdays at 6 pm via Zoom or in person when permitted.