June 30, 2016
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – On this week’s episode of LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” airing Sunday night at 9 p.m. on AM970, we’re taking a hard look at the horrific workplace issues that have forced workers at Alaris nursing homes in New Jersey back onto the picket lines; the potential for violence facing some very special New York City employees; the latest setback for elevator safety in the Empire State; and the dental benefit experts that have been helping to safeguard the mouths of union members in the metropolitan area for 40 years.
Ella Moton and her colleagues at Alaris Health at HarborView in Jersey City, dedicate their days caring for clients facing the end of their lives. Many times, they feed, bathe and hold their clients’ hands right up to the end. Moton, a 15-year Alaris employee, and her fellow staffers provide comfort, care and companionship when no one else can. And for that they are paid less than fast food wages and cannot afford adequate healthcare for their own families.
When Alaris workers protested the paltry compensation package and short-staffing that hindered their ability to render proper care to clients, the company that pocketed a reported $170 million in profit between 2010 and 2014, bullied them, put them under surveillance, cut their hours and locked them out.
Despite all the workplace turmoil and tumult, workers never stopped fighting for themselves or their clients. Moton tells “Blue Collar Buzz” Hosts Neal Tepel and Bill Hohlfeld, “I promised myself no one would die alone.” Together with their union — 1199SEIU — Alaris workers continue to fight back.
Workers for the NYC Administration for Children Services never know what awaits them on the other side of the door when they start working a case. Too often, however, it is violent.
“We are the face of the city,” Anthony wells, head of Local 371 of the Social Service Employees Union (SSEU), tells LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz. “And people get outraged at the system.”
To better protect essential municipal workers, while also actively working to promote their overall wellness, Wells says the City of New York needs to take real action. Two things the Local 371 president says New York City must do to improve conditions include, increasing rates of retention — even as more personnel are hired -— and fostering better relations between child care workers and the NYPD.
“We need to be put in a better position to be of service,” Wells says.
Also, in New York City — tourists boarding sightseeing buses all around town can rest assured that the folks who are selling them tickets are licensed professionals. The same, however, cannot be said when tourists exit their double-decker buses and get into an elevator whisking them to the top of a premier New York City property. That's because for the fifth consecutive year, the bill requiring special training and licensing for elevator mechanics has, once again, failed to get through the New York State Senate.
After a number of high-profile human deaths involving elevators over the last several months, Michael Halpin, organizer, International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 1, warns that the state is in "crisis" —and that the public is in real danger. Elevator systems may be one of the “most sophisticated pieces of equipment,” inside a building, but a majority of New York State senators, as well as the de Blasio administration, don't seem to think mechanics need to be licensed. Responsible contractors understand the paramount importance of proper safety training in safeguarding the elevator-riding public, and act accordingly by hiring trained workers. Halpin, however, says “more and more irresponsible contractors are "creeping into the city.”
Healthplex is an insurance company that has always understood the importance of the Trade Union Movement. New York City firefighters were among HealthPlex’s very first clients — and they remain Healthplex clients to this very day.
“We are a union shop,” Healthplex President and Ceo Sharon Zelkind tells “Blue Collar Buzz” Hosts Neal Tepel and Bill Hohlfeld. “We do not outsource anything. Nothing is offshore — and it never will be. [Outsourcing] was not the intent of the founders.”
LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” airs every Sunday night on AM970 The Answer from 9 to 10 p.m. This week’s episode, as well as every other episode of LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” is also available on demand at www.am970theanswer.com.