December 10, 2015
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – Trade unionists still seething over that Times Square billboard subverting the “Black Lives Matter” movement while also accusing organized labor of racial bias in the construction industry, will want to tune into this Sunday morning’s edition of the LaborPress Radio Show/Podcast on WWRL 1600 AM. IUOE Local 14 Director of Industry Advancement Allen Wright has a few choice words on the matter, in addition to talking about what operating a crane in New York City is really all about. We’ve also got fighting labor attorney Tom Kennedy discussing “double breasting” and the continuing threat to collectively bargained pensions.
“Ridiculous” — that’s how Wright describes anti-union activist Richard Berman’s expensive charge that unions favor white workers over black workers. As a person of color with more than 20 years in the industry, Wright says that he is personally offended by the assertion, because he’s actually experienced the exact opposite in his career. “There’s no such thing as a black person getting paid less than a white person,” Wright says.
Beyond the Berman brouhaha, Wright talks about how the increasing pace of New York City construction and the race for the almighty dollar is impacting worker safety. While some contractors may look to cut dangerous corners, Wright points out that nothing shuts down construction quicker than an accident. “Safety is speed,” he says. And although some continue to press for relaxed training requirements, Wright explains why the experience of operating a crane on the streets of New York City simply cannot be replicated anywhere else.
Companies willing to sacrifice safety in the name of profit, are often the same kinds of companies that like to engage in “double breasting” — the shady practice of acting as a union signatory on some projects, while operating far beyond the reach of union protections on other jobs. Tom Kennedy is an attorney who has argued cases before the U.S. Supreme court. On this week’s show, Kennedy talks about his efforts to beat back duplicitous companies and their dangerous “alter egos.” “These companies want the best of both worlds” he says, but at the expense of worker rights.
Anti-union forces also hate pensions and delight in fantastical narratives about lazy American workers getting money for nothing. In a robust discussion with our LP hosts, Kennedy points out that most retirees still earning pensions in this harsh anti-worker climate, actually collect just a few hundred bucks a month throughout their golden years — living high on the hog, indeed.
Tune into WWRL 1600 AM at 11 a.m. on Sunday morning for all of this and more. And don’t forget to visit www.lainvasora1600.com for any episodes of the LaborPress Radio Show/Podcast you might have missed.