September 1, 2016
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – On this week’s episode of LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz,” airing at Sunday night at 9 p.m. on AM970, we’re talking with the president of the Public Employees Federation [PEF], the president of the Economic Policy Institute [EPI], Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal [D-67th District] — and a bunch of determined workers who camped outside Carpenters’ HQ for a solid week earlier this summer hoping for a shot at a union job and the American Dream.
The 54,0000 members of PEF who help keep the Empire State running every day, recently achieved a well-earned two-percent raise — but they didn’t do it by bloodying Governor Andrew Cuomo’s nose.
Instead, PEF President Wayne Spence tells LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” that the union took a “win-win” approach to the nine-month-long negotiating process with the state.
“The negotiating table can’t be a boxing ring,” Spence says. “You can’t sign a contract with boxing gloves on.”
Despite the monied-interests and their never-ending crusade to demonize the American worker, Spence says that New York State can thank high union density for keeping the place afloat during the last economic meltdown.
“It’s wasn’t an easy win,” Spence says. “The governor didn’t roll over. My members sacrificed for the state and the economy survived.”
Stagnant wages, meanwhile, have been suffocating private sector workers for the last 35 years. Those directly benefitting from this “redistribution of wealth” love to tout nebulous, unquantifiable things like “globalization” and “technological change” for the increasingly critical nature of the economic malaise. A new EPI report, however, finds the concrete cause of the stagnation is consistent with the decline of union strength.
EPI President Larry Mishel tells LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” that the decline of unions since 1979 has significantly depressed the wages for 40.2 million non-union men working in the private sector . A new EPI analysis puts the number at $2.1 billion fewer dollars in weekly paychecks, or an annual wage loss of $109 billion.
“The fact that unions are not as strong as the used to be means that non-union workers are missing out,” Mishel says.
Many in New York are missing out on a decent place to live that they can actually afford. And the Airbnb’s of the world that incentivize property owners to “warehouse the house stock” in an effort to enhance their bank accounts, aren’t helping.
Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, [D-67th District], however, has introduced new legislation in Albany designed to curb the warehousing of the available housing stock.
On this week’s episode of LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz,” Assembly Member Rosenthal calls the Airbnb model “terrible,” and says it is “taking away housing that is meant for working New Yorkers.”
Finally, the NYC District Council of Carpenters earlier this summer held a recruitment drive to fill 250 available apprenticeships — hundreds showed up for a crack at the jobs. But they not only showed up to the Carpenters Hudson Street Training Center, they camped outside the building for a solid week to get an application. LaborPress was there, too. And on this week’s episode of “Blue Collar Buzz,” we’ll hear from some of those who slept on the sidewalk in scorching heat for a chance at becoming union carpenters.
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.