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'Sweat' Stars and Pulitzer Prize Winners on This Week's Blue Collar Buzz!

March 23, 2017
By Joe Maniscalco

Alison Wright, Johanna Day and Michelle Wilson in "Sweat." (c) Joan Marcus

New York, NY - LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” is putting working men and women in sharper focus this Sunday night at 9 p.m. on AM970 with exclusive interviews with Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Deanne Fitzmaurice and “Sweat” Director Kate Whoriskey and Actor Michelle Wilson. We’ll also take a hard look at diversity in the construction industry with Economic Policy Institute President Larry Mishel. 

There’s a compelling new photo exhibition now on public display through May 15 in NYC’s Financial District documenting the intriguing lives of women working in a diverse array of exciting occupations — including electricians, mechanics, bridge painters and more. And the woman who composed the images exhibited at Water Street and Gouveneur Lane, as well as another site at the corner of Water and Pearl streets, says the show is especially significant in the era of Trump. 

“I feel like it’s very timely right now that there seems to be a backlash against women’s rights,” Fitzmaurice tells LaborPress’ Blue Collar Buzz. “And so, to see these strong, skilled women out there, I think is pretty powerful.”

The Pulitzer Prize winner has a long history of putting herself into dangerous situations to get the story. The current “Women Can Build” photo exhibition is no exception. 

“One shoot I did fairly recently, was of a woman who is a bridge painter on the Brooklyn Bridge,” Fitzmaurice says. “It was a fascinating thing. I got up there and said to her, ‘Hey, where can I photograph you on this bridge?’ And she said, ‘Well…anywhere. I climb all over it.’”

Without a doubt, the biggest buzz on Broadway right now, is the premiere of playwright Lynn Nottage’s blue collar drama called “Sweat” at Studio 54. “Sweat” looks at the lives of a group close-knit Pennsylvania plant workers who are unceremoniously locked out of their jobs. 

“It feels to me that the crisis of the American worker is really at stake now,” director Whoriskey tells Blue Collar Buzz this week. “And I feel like Lynn is really asking us to revisit how to empower workers again.”

Like workers in the rest of contemporary America, the workers in “Sweat” find themselves pitted against each other in what Wilson calls “crumb-fighting.” 

Deanne Fitzmaurice's photos are now on public display in the Financial District.

“There’s something about the way society keeps us crumb-fighting” Wilson tells Blue Collar Buzz.” And we just don’t look around and see each other. But what you see in this play is people who really love each other. But when they’re stripped of their dignity, and when they’re stripped of work, and when they are afraid…they turn on each other, and they start practicing that crumb-fighting. But that’s not their nature.”

“Sweat” is in previews now, and officially premiers on March 26. Tickets as low as $59 are available at SweatBroadway.com

The Building Trades have come a long way from the closed shop mentality that at one time pervaded too many unions. Today, however, Mishel says that his research proves that they have made tremendous strides in diversity. 

“Our research confirms that the Building Trades unions have done a lot in recent years to bring in a much more diverse membership,” the economist tells Blue Collar Buzz. “Some of the attacks being leveled at the trades from professional anti-union advocates like Richard Berman, just fall flat when they claim that the union sector is not sensitive to racial equity and justice.”

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.

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