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Member Spotlight: Moeleek Thomas

Moeleek Thomas was frustrated that his bargaining unit had gone without a contract since 2017, but when he raised that issue with local union leadership, they responded by calling him racist names.

Moeleek said in a phone call the local union president called him a “house n—er,” an “Uncle Tom,” and he told him he was nothing but a “kiss-a–.”

Moeleek is a tow truck operator with the New York Police Department traffic enforcement division. He left the union after realizing the union was not doing the work they were supposed to do for their members, like negotiating for a new contract, and he also left because of the repeated hostility he experienced from union officials.

Moeleek grew frustrated with union leaders when they avoided his questions about the lack of a contract for his unit. That frustration led to a confrontation with the vice-president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees District Council 37 and Local 983 (DC 37), Marvin Robbins, during which, Moeleek said, Robbins called him racist names.

“I just got fed up,” he said. “Since 2017 we haven’t had a contract, and every time I ask about the contract, they talk about something else.”

Moeleek also said he and other members of his bargaining unit tried to obtain the financial records for the unit, but union officials “would never present them to us,” even when employees went directly to the union’s offices to see the records. 

Moeleek left the union once before, but he said he was told that he would get furloughed or lose his job if he didn’t resume his membership. But then he learned that the union could not get him fired, so he resigned from the union again.

“You’re paying membership to a club, that’s all you’re doing,” said Moeleek. “You’re lining their pockets. You can get everything else you need without paying them.” 

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Suzanne Bates

Suzanne Bates is Senior Writer and Researcher with Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector workers offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Prior to joining Americans for Fair Treatment in 2020, Suzanne worked as a journalist for the Associated Press, as Policy Director with the Yankee Institute, as a contributor for The Hartford Courant, and as a regular commentator for WNPR’s The Wheelhouse.