Local 237 Members are “All In" for Change

January 27, 2014: A growing reform group is running for office in New York Local 237, the Teamsters’ largest local union.

Local 237 represents more than 24,000 New York City public employees, including school safety officers, public housing workers, city hospital staff, and more.

The local was once a powerful political force in New York City and its contracts help set the tone for public sector wages and benefits in the City and beyond.

But rank-and-file members aren’t feeling much of that power lately. “The Local 237 leadership is out of touch,” says Local 237 member Debra Crenshaw, who works at the NYC Housing Authority.

“The Business Agents meet with management without even talking to the member first. When members see that they feel like the union is in bed with management.”

All Members for Change is the growing reform group that’s building a movement of members to run in this fall’s local union election.

“Lack of any real union representation on the job is the common issue we hear across the City,” says Jakwan Rivers, the leader of All Members for Change and a 17-year Local 237 member and former Business Agent and steward. “We want to put the members first and restore confidence that Local 237 Teamsters can win.”

Rivers headed a slate to challenge incumbents in the last election, and lost by 281 votes. “Our first change would be to improve representation and grievance handling. Members will get a call from a union rep within 48 hours of filing, and members will be involved every step of the way.”

Across the union, members say union reps either leave members to fend for themselves against management, or only show up on the job to cut bad deals with the boss.

Housing Authority departments are understaffed and management is forcing members to work 15 to 18 days straight—a clear violation of the contract—with no fight-back from the union.

School safety agents are called into to work details usually reserved for Homeland Security or the NYPD, like the New York City Marathon. But, without “uniform status” the school safety agents get paid less and fewer benefits for this same work.

“Members are frustrated with the union,” says Rivers. “But they’re also hungry for change and we’re getting a great response so far. Our challenge is to organize that hunger into a force that can turn Local 237 around.”

“We want to empower New York City public workers again,” says School Safety Agent Richard Muniz. “Our contracts are being trampled on. When members do file grievances, the union and management make a weak settlement behind the members’ backs. We’ll get members involved to enforce our contracts and win back power on the job.”


Improve Representation

“Lack of any real union representation on the job is the common issue we hear across the City.

“Our first change would be to improve representation and grievance handling. Members will get a call from a union rep within 48 hours of filing, and members will be involved every step of the way.”

Jakwan Rivers, NYC Housing Authority


Officials are Out of Touch

“The Local 237 leadership is out of touch.

“The Business Agents meet with management without even talking to the member first.
When members see that they feel like the union is in bed with management.”

Debra Crenshaw, NYC Housing Authority


Restore Confidence

“We want to empower New York City public workers again.

“When members do file grievances, the union and management make a weak settlement behind the members’ backs. We’ll get members involved to enforce our contracts and win back power on the job.”

Richard Muniz, School Safety Agent