April 28, 2016
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – On this week’s May Day edition of LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” airing Sunday, May 1, from 9 to 10 p.m. on AM970 TheAnswer, we’re talking about some of the most contentious labor struggles currently raging on the streets of New York City, and across the county.
Allstate Power Vac workers in Brooklyn spend their day hip deep in the kinds of toxic detritus that would send most of us sprinting in the other direction. Explosions and electrocutions are constant concerns. Still, many Allstate Power Vac employees actually earn less than workers serving lunch at McDonald’s or KFC. .
IBT Local 813 President Sean Campbell takes us inside the furious battle for workers’ rights and a fair contract — and why Allstate not only faces a slew of National Labor Relations Board charges, but also the very real possibility of a strike.
“[Allstate] is trying to have everybody beg individually,” Campbell reports.
Organized labor has joined with the village of Port Chester in Westchester County in a different kind of struggle — but one that is no less vital. The Sustainable Port Chester Alliance is a growing coalition of labor, faith, housing and education groups advocating for the responsible development of a 15-acre site near Boston Post Road that once was home to United Hospital.
Starwood Capital, the controversial developer of the United Hospital development has a long history of hiring irresponsible contractors, and is now attempting to win substantial tax breaks and concessions from the public that are good for Starwood Capital – but offer little to the greater community at large.
John Coffey, business agent, Metallic Lathers and Reinforcing Ironworkers Local 46, explains that the Sustainable Port Chester Alliance is supportive of redeveloping the former United Hospital site — but not at the expense of good jobs or the needs of Port Chester residents.
“A lot of people are struggling here,” Coffey says.
The United Hospital site is also home to 133 units of active workforce housing. According to Coffey, however, Starwood is “doing very little to help the current residents.” Despite resistance, the Sustainable Port Chester Alliance is committed to securing a Community Benefits Agreement from the United Hospital developer that actually works for taxpayers.
Verizon workers entering the second week of a massive strike along much of the east coast also have their backs up against the wall. But like Allstate Power Vac workers in Brooklyn, they remain determined to beat back the giant telecom’s attempts at union busting.
Workers Independent News correspondent Doug Cunningham returns to LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” on Sunday with an update on the ongoing Verizon struggle, as well as other labor actions taking place in the midwest and west coast.
Although critical, Cunningham says there’s lots for unionists across the country to be optimistic about — including, but not limited to a judge’s recent decision declaring Wisconsin’s union-busting “right to work” rules unconstitutional.
Says Cunningham, “Millions in the labor movement are learning from the struggles we are engaged in – and are evolving over time.”
For all this and more – including "Blue Collar Buzz Co-host Bill Hohlfeld's new "Labor History Minute" – tune into AM970 The Answer this Sunday, May 1, from 9 to 10 p.m. The episode, along with the rest of LaborPress' "Blue Collar Buzz" library, is also available on demand at AM970TheAnswer.com.