Is Dist. Council 37 Back to Old Ways?

As NYC prepares for negotiations with its unions, the bosses of the largest one are honing their bargaining skills — in Las Vegas.

District Council 37 is paying the freight for nearly 400 of its members to the sun-drenched gaming mecca for the convention of its parent union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.  The trip comes six months after the Intl. ended its three-year trusteeship of DC 37.  The NYC local was rocked by a scandal in which more than 20 officials were convicted of embezzlement and other crimes.  The presidents of two of the council’s 56 locals were convicted of stealing more than $1 million.  Several council officials were also convicted of stuffing ballot boxes in 1996 to ensure approval of an unpopular contract.

Oliver Gray, Assoc. Dir. of DC 37, insisted that contrary to reports by other union members, the Local was not paying hundreds of dollars per room, but had negotiated a rate of $119 a night per room.  Gray also claimed that the week long Las Vegas meeting is essential to union business, in part because the union locals had to discuss how to manage in tough economic times.

The Intl. union concedes that the convention will not be all business though.  It has advised union members that they can get a variety of discounts though the union, including tours of Red Rock Canyon and the Hoover Dam, shopping trips, and a visit to the Liberace Museum.  [Newsday 6/28/02]