May 5, 2015
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – On this week’s edition of LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” airing Sunday night at 9 p.m. on AM970 The Answer, we’re talking about the many ways in which the so-called “changing nature of work” is negatively impacting working Americans from coast to coast.
From Verizon workers to Airgas employees — and from Uber drivers to taxi cab operators — corporations everywhere are inventing ingenious new ways of pulling the rug out from U.S. workers in an endless pursuit of age-old greed. But what is government doing about it?
When it was learned late last year that French giant Air Liquide was moving to acquire Airgas — the largest company of its kind in the U.S. for some $10.3 million — union workers for the American distributor of industrial, medical and specialty gases, were optimistic. Air Liquide had a good reputation for working well with trade unionists in Europe and there was hope that the French would continue that relationship with American workers.
That hasn’t happened, however. Instead, Air Liquide has taken a page out of the right wing’s anti-unionism playbook and refused to meet with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to discuss a fair contract. IBT Global Strategist Tim Beaty notes that the stonewalling runs counter to common practices in Europe where unionists are partners and have a significant voice in company management.
Bhairavi Desai, head of NY Taxi Workers Alliance, tells hosts Neal Tepel and Bill Hohlfeld that the “changing nature of work” is nothing but a bunch of “nonsense” that is really all about finding new ways of “impoverishing” middle-class workers. Desai explains how ride sharing apps including Uber and Lyft, represent an “existential threat” to drivers who make their living behind the wheel. Despite persistent claims to the contrary, Desai says that technology has not, and will not, alter an employer’s economic relationship with its employees.
“Beepers didn’t mean that [black car] drivers weren’t employees,” Desai says.
Verizon, the giant telecom raking in over $1.5 billion in profit each month, is attempting to the most brazen changes to the American workplace by shipping jobs overseas. There are 39,000 striking Verizon workers along the east coast, however, who are standing up against the so-called “changing nature of work.”
“Verizon is trying to intimidate and scare people and it is not working,” says Pete Sikora, strike mobilization coordinator for the Communications Workers of America District 1. Indeed, since the Verizon strike commenced three weeks ago, the telecom’s brand has taken a significant tumble in the latest round of surveys. This fact is being played out daily on picket lines where public support for striking workers is growing increasingly vocal.
We wrap up this week’s edition of LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” with a lively discussion about government’s role in protecting workers in the face of the so-called “changing nature of work” — as well as the increasing dangers threatening workplaces across a variety of industries.
For all this and more, tune into LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” this Sunday evening from 9 to 10 p.m. on AM970 The Answer. Every episode of LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” is also available on demand at www.am970theanswer.com.