May 23, 2014
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – District Council 1707, the union representing nearly 20,000 members in child care and the social services, has new leadership this week following a surprising election that saw Raglan George, jr. fail to garner enough votes to keep him installed as the group’s executive director.
Victoria Mitchell, head of fundraising Local 107, bested George for the top post, while Social Services Local 215 President Lorraine Guest beat Kim Medina to become the new council president. Vice President of Head Start Local 95 Linda McPherson, also defeated Local 215 Executive Board Member Glenn Turnbull for the treasurer spot.
George, the former U.S. Marine who later went on to become both a Narcotics and Corrections officer for the State of New York, spent his 12-year tenure as DC1707 executive director butting heads with former Mayor Mike Bloomberg and his ongoing efforts to gut the city’s child care system.
The outgoing DC1707 executive director spent 2013 marching around City Hall in a weekly one-man campaign for child care. George’s efforts eventually attracted the support of then mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, who later went on to make Universal Pre-K the centerpiece of his campaign.
And last fall, AFSCME joined others on the steps of City Hall to honor George for his tireless efforts to save child care in the City of New York.
None of that, however, was enough for George and his leadership team to remain at the head of DC 1707. Although Medina, president of Local 253, continues to serve on the executive board.
DC1707 insiders say that George actually faced too many negatives to win re-election this time around, including a disgruntled membership that was looking for a change after going years without a decent contract.
“Our day care workers and Head Start workers really took a beating under the Bloomberg administration,” says Michael Green, a key Mitchell ally who helped her win the election. “And Raglan didn’t put up a fight.”
Mitchell’s win came after a three-week polling process that saw just under 2,200 eligible voters submitt ballots via the mail.
According to Green – who lost his previously held DC1707 post about a year ago, after he says George unjustly terminated him – the membership continued to feel that it was still being overlooked under the de Blasio administration as well.
“The members really just felt like they were left behind,” Green says. “Day care workers had only received one raise in 14 years – and that wasn’t even retroactive.”
Mitchell was sworn in as the group’s new executive director on Tuesday, May 20, where she thanked George and his leadership team for their many years of dedicated service to DC1707, and also pledged to keep up the fight.
“I want our members to know that I will fight for them every step of the way,” Mitchell said. “I have been a part of this union for 27 years and I am prepared and ready to strengthen this union for the fights ahead. And there are many.”
Green says that Mitchell has three “priceless qualities” that bode well for her tenure as DC1707’s new executive director.
“She cares about the members, she works hard – and she works smart,” Green says. “So, with those qualities, I have faith that she is going to be able to bring whatever positive changes to the union to move it forward.”