Testimony of Cuthbert Dickenson, President, Local 374, DC 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO

I am Cuthbert Dickenson, President of Local 374, DC 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO.

The proposed Preliminary Budget 2014 includes cuts of approximately 5.5 million dollars of city tax levy funds for the botanical gardens and an overall cut of approximately 60.2 million dollars to all the cultural institutions which DC 37 represents.

Local 374 members work in the NY Botanical Garden, Queens and Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and Wave Hill in the Bronx as well as in our largest library system the NY Public Library.

As I indicated above, the approximate 60.2 million dollars cut in city funds to the cultural are drastic and unproductive. Some of these culturals are so small that the cuts are having a disproportionate effect on their overall budget. These institutions are available to tourists and residents alike for the incredible beauty and education opportunities they provide. These institutions are highly respected by professionals in the field of horticultural research and rely on their resources.

These tax levy funds pay for the modest salaries and health insurance for hundreds of workers. We are the custodians who clean, the gardeners who cultivate, the secretaries who keep us organized and the maintainers who fix the plumbing, the machinery and keep the buildings together, sometimes with duct tape and prayers. Service is all we do, all day long.

We know that you as City Council representatives are not responsible for the magnitude of the cuts, but we come here to humbly ask you to do your best to restore the funding, and avoid the drastic impact that could result.

We urge the Budget Negotiating Team to make the cultural institutions a priority in the restoration discussions.

On behalf of my members and the citizens of NYC, thank you.