Blue Collar Buzz, Building Trades

Blue Collar Buzz Takes the Pulse of Labor

September 21, 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 The Answer, we’re taking the pulse of organized labor in New York with the help of New York City Council Member I. Daneek Miller [D-27th District], Local 46 Metallic Latherers and Reinforcing Ironworkers President John Skinner, and Murphy Institute Professor Ruth Milkman — co-author of the 2016 “State of the Unions” report. 

Across the country, where income inequality, wage disparity and stagnant salaries have become the norm — union density stands at a woeful 10.9 percent. It’s a far different story here in New York where union density in the pubic sector is double the national average overall. The Murphy Institute even finds some indication that union density in New York might actually be on the rise in some respects. 

Milkman, however, warns LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” that organized labor has been “defying gravity” in the Empire State and that the biggest danger to unionism in the stronghold of NYC, remains “complacency.”

“New York has defied gravity, lately, but there’s no guarantee that will continue,” Milkman says. “So, it requires a lot of vigilance on the part of union organizers.”

One area that organized labor should be seeing an increase in market share is in the realm of affordable housing — but that’s not the case. Instead, Council Member I. Daneek Miller, chair of the Civil Service and Labor Committee, says that New York City’s building boom is seeing more non-union construction than ever before. 

“This is a union town,” Council Member Miller says. “We have to leverage PLAs [Project Labor Agreements].” 

Council Member Miller doesn’t have to look further than his own Queens constituents to see the value of unionism — District 27  is home to more African-American unionists and homeowners than any other place in the city. 

Somehow, however, that correlation has not reached City Hall. Instead, Skinner tells LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” that worker exploitation has reached “an unprecedented level," while developer profit margins soar. 

“Greed is the only addiction that doesn’t have a recovery program,” Skinner says. “It’s despicable. People are living in squalor.” 

Finally, “Blue Collar Buzz” checks back in with Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of Emblem Health  for an update on the new Advantage Care Physicians Express center on Duane Street, which promises to cater to the health needs of the city’s municipal workforce. 

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

September 20, 2016

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