Blue Collar Buzz, Education, New York

LaborPress ‘Buzzes’ Over the LIU Lockout and More!

September 9, 2016
By Joe Maniscalco

IUOE Local 94 President Kuba Brown with Tom Hill of Boston Properties.

IUOE Local 94 President Kuba Brown with Tom Hill of Boston Properties.

New York, NY – On this week’s episode of LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” airing Sunday night at 9 p.m. on AM970, we’ll find out why the Brooklyn Campus of Long Island University has become a “colony in revolt” following the unprecedented post-Labor Day weekend lockout of the LIU faculty. Assembly Member Walter Mosley also returns with another Albany report, in which he tells us that developers who can’t afford to pay union standards and wages in New York, need to get out of the game. We’ll also get statistical proof from the U.S. government that union workers are, indeed, far better off than their non-union counterparts. And finally, we’ll look at the labor-management alliance that is directly responsible for making NYC’s iconic skyline possible. 

This week, the administration at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus shocked faculty and students alike when they decided to abandon good faith bargaining and lock out educators. 

Instead of addressing important issues of pay parity and equity, Long Island University Faculty Federation [LIUFF] Vice-President Ralph Engelman tells LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” that LIU administrators have taken a page out of Donald Trump’s playbook by attempting to “build a wall” between students and the faculty. 

“But it’s not going to work,” Engelman says. Indeed, throngs of students who pay tens of thousands of dollars for an LIU education, have begun demonstrating against administrators who have hired scabs to teach class. 

According to Engelman, the fight now raging on Flatbush Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn is not only about securing a fair contract for LIUFF instructors — it also has a lot to do with the demographics of a predominately white, Long Island-based administration that simply does not reflect the rich diversity of the Brooklyn Campus.

Earlier this summer, Governor Andrew Cuomo attempted to end the stalemate between New York’s real estate industry and organized labor following the collapse of the 421-a affordable housing tax abatement program by floating the idea of subsidizing higher wages. 

While he applauds the governor’s efforts, Assembly Member Walter Mosley tells LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” that he wonders where the money to make up those subsidies will be found. At the same time, the Brooklyn legislator suggested that the state shouldn’t even be wasting energy on developers who continually cry poverty.

“There are developers who can absorb the costs and those who cannot,” Assembly Member Mosley tells LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz.” Those who can’t make the profit margins, you should be removed from the process.”

For Bruce Bergman, supervisory economist with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, better information makes for a better economy. That’s why it should be important for policy makers interested in rebuilding the middle-class to understand that unionized workers on average earn $28.85 an hour compared to just $21.90 for non-union workers. Unionized workers also earn better benefits. 

Right now, according to Bergman, nearly 75 percent of unionized workers have access to paid sick leave, whereas only 60 percent of non-unionized can claim the same thing. 

Union workers are also safer. This year, 1 out 10 people killed on the job was a union worker — the tragic remainder where all non-union. 

This week, LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” also looks at the labor/management relationship between IUOE Local 94 and Boston Properties. In an exclusive interview with IUOE President Kuba Brown and Boston Properties Tom Hill, the two men discuss how the continuing training and education of elite operating engineers throughout the city is saving property owners millions of dollars each year — while also supporting the kinds of wages and benefits that have made the American  middle-class an economic powerhouse. 

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.

September 8, 2016

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