Editor’s Note: DC1707 Executive Director Kim Medina will be honored along with CWA Local 1180 President Gloria Middleton; CWA Local 1180 President Emeritus Arthur Cheliotes; NYPD Det. Michael Lollo and IUEC Local 1 Business Manager & President Lenny Legotte at LaborPress’ 8th Annual Heroes of Labor Awards on Thursday, October 3.
NEW YORK, N.Y.—When Kim Medina was elected executive director of District Council 1707 AFSCME in May 2017, she told LaborPress that she hoped the 22,000-member union would become “a lot more progressive, and in some areas, more aggressive.”
The council’s six locals represent workers in day-care centers and Head Start programs; home-care, social-service, and special-needs programs; and philanthropic organizations. Medina, a carpenter’s daughter who grew up in the Bronx, joined in the mid-1980s, when she began working with mentally disabled children.
She was elected Local 253’s president in 1996, holding the post until 2017, and also served as DC 1707’s president, its second-ranking position, from 2004 to 2013.
One of the first things Medina did when she took office was to cut her salary in half, from $180,000 a year to $90,000. DC 1707’s members, who are more than three-fourths women, had a median income of $21,000 to $30,000, she explained, and she didn’t want to be out of touch with “their pains and their concerns.”
A top priority for her was to get preschool teachers paid at a rate comparable to what city public-school teachers earn. On Aug. 1, Local 205, which represents more than 4,200 early-childhood education workers, ratified a contract extension that is supposed to bring its 300 certified teachers up to parity with entry-rate Department of Education salaries by October 2021. That would give them raises of up to $20,000.
“We never thought this day would come,” Medina told the Chalkbeat education-news site. “It was always a constant fight for us because the mindset was that our child-care providers… were not teachers. They were babysitters.”
In June, DC 1707 and District Council 37 announced that they would merge in September, with DC 1707 becoming DC 37’s Non-Profit Private Sector Division. Medina said that joining with the large city workers’ union would mean that “we will have more resources and more power to push to new heights our fight for dignity and respect for New York City’s nonprofit care providers.”