March 9, 2017
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, we’re talking about labor's continuing ties with the Democratic Party, as well as disappearing jobs from coast to coast with James Slevin, president of the Utility Workers of America, Local 1-2; Chris Silvera, secretary-treasurer, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 808; and Kurt Ho, a systems administrator with the University of California, San Francisco, who’s had his job outsourced overseas along with over 75 other workers.
Governor Andrew Cuomo and Indian Point owner Entergy earlier this year completed a pact to shut down the nuclear power plant in Buchanan, NY ten years ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, according to Slevin, no one bothered giving the people who keep the plant operating, and now face the grim reality of losing their livelihoods, a seat at the negotiating table.
“The only [replacement] conversation on the table is the Lake Champlain line which is providing jobs in Canada, to provide power to the City of New York — which right now is still in the drawing process,” Slevin says. “[Governor Cuomo] is pushing [Indian Point] jobs to close — but is opening up opportunities for Canadians.”
In the process of upending the lives hundreds of workers and their communities, the head of Local 1-2 also has concerns that the existing power grid will not be able to handle the growing demand for electricity without the nuclear facility at Indian Point.
“Where is the replacement power?” Slevin continues. “After Superstorm Sandy, I saw generators on the streets of Lower Manhattan just spewing out emissions. Are we going to go back to that era? Are we going to go back to people putting out portable generators to make sure we don’t have rolling blackouts?
With pension plans tanking and workers being forced to work until they “croak,” Local 808’s Chris Silvera says it is time the Labor Movement to reassert itself as the vanguard of the working class.
“Right now, we are just an appendage to the Democratic Party, and we’re about to kiss up to the Republican leadership,” Silvera tells Blue Collar Buzz.
In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s Electoral College win, the Teamsters Local 808 secretary-treasurer is advocating breaking away from the Democratic Party and building new momentum within the ranks of organized labor.
“Militancy is important,” Silvera says. “We haven’t dealt with Striker Replacement legislation since Al Gore. We haven’t been able to get the Democrats to give us the Employee Free Choice Act. We haven’t been able to get any politician to be willing to bail out the working class with these pensions. We have not been willing as a country to do anything for these people — but we can do it for banks, and we can do it for corporations, but we can’t do it for people.”
University of California, San Francisco systems administrator Kurt Ho, certainly doesn’t feel his country is investing in him and his co-workers. Their jobs are going overseas to India as university administrators try to cut costs on the backs of workers.
“I, myself, thought that was really bad public policy,” Ho says this week. “It’s taxpayers money. It’s not supposed to be used to grow jobs in other countries. How can we grow our tax base when we’re growing someone else’s tax base?”
The IT specialists says he cringes at the thought of someone a world away trying to deal with an issue inside the UCSF campus’ sensitive medical facilities.
“There is a lot of bumbling around - eventually, UCSF will realize this is the wrong decision,” Ho says.
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.