Blue Collar Buzz, Building Trades

‘Blue Collar Buzz’ Battles for The Middle Class

June 23, 2016
By Joe Maniscalco

BCB Hosts Neal Tepel and Bill Hohlfeld with OSA Chairman Robert Croghan.

BCB Hosts Neal Tepel and Bill Hohlfeld with OSA Chairman Robert Croghan.

New York, NY — On this week’s action-packed episode of LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” we’re looking at the ugly attack on middle class families presently taking place inside the luxurious Hamilton apartment building on the UES; the long-awaited restoration of the Employee Protection Provision for school bus drivers, attendants and mechanics; the historic agreement that’s lifting up school custodial engineers while simultaneously also saving money for the city; and the failed attempt to "raid" the Organization of Staff Analysts’ rank and file members. 

Back in 2002, after failing to find a home with a number of other unions, superior traffic enforcement and school safety officers managed to connect with the Organization of Staff Analysts [OSA] who were more than happy to welcome them into the ranks. The OSA has been successfully representing the select group ever since. 

However, during the latest round of contract negotiations with the city, OSA Chairperson Robert Croghan says the Law Enforcement Employee Benevolent Association (LEEBA) saw an opportunity to lure  those very same members away from the OSA. 

“We were told that we would have to face-off against them and defend ourselves from the raid,” Croghan says. “We were not the first group [LEEBA] came after. [LEEBA] tried to raid a number of other locals over the years.”

The opportunity to raid, which was ultimately defeated, arose after efforts to settle a long delayed contract  with the City of New York — courtesy, in large part, to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s years-long recalcitrance towards organized labor — required OSA to engage in even further bargaining with the de Blasio administration. 

“And into that situation came LEBA promising that they could do everything,” Croghan says. 

Also this week, lawmakers moved to correct yet another Bloomberg-era assault on labor when they voted to give the City of  York City the ability to restore the employee protection provision in contracts for school bus services. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg scrapped the EPP, and the job security that went along with it back in 2013 — sparking a month-long strike. 

School bus driver and Teamsters Local 553 Lisa Cilone tells LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” that the former billionaire mayor “messed up big-time" — not only for [school bus drivers], but for parents who then had to worry about who was ferrying their children to and from school each day. 

“This is my career,” Cilone says. “You develop a relationship with the parents and they have trust in you.”

For years, the City of New York was also “messing up” and wasting taxpayer money by hiring outside contractors to fulfill vital school janitorial and custodial services. That all changed, however, with a new agreement between the de Blasio administration and  IUOE Local 891. Under the agreement, the city will no longer hire-out school janitorial and custodian services, and instead, hire 120 additional municipal school janitors and custodians. 

“It’s been proven over and over again that private contractors cost more,” IUOE Local 891 Business Manager/President Robert Troeller tells LaborPress' "Blue Collar Buzz." 

Money — or more accurately — the redistribution of wealth is at the heart of perhaps the latest assault on the middle class taking place inside  the Hamilton luxury apartment building located at 1735 York Avenue. 

Hamilton workers and their families are fighting to stay in the middle class.

Hamilton workers and their families are fighting to stay in the middle class.

For decades, the doormen and other building service personnel working the building earned middle-class wages that enabled them to own homes and raise their families. That all came to a screeching halt just last month, however, when Charles Dayan’s Bonjour Capital bought the Hamilton for a reported $120 million. The new owners didn’t even have time to rechristen the building “The Serrano” when they slashed building service worker salaries in half and scrapped their medical benefits. 

Overnight, the building service workers at the tony address went from earning middle-class salaries to taking home less than fast food wages. On this week’s episode of LaborPress’ "Blue Collar Buzz" we talk to a 32BJ SEIU official, as well as a Hamilton apartment building worker who are fighting hard to beat back Bonjour Capital’s direct assault on the middle class. 

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.

June 22, 2016

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