Building Trades, Features, Health and Safety, Law and Politics, New York

Striking for Social Issues in a deadly week for organized labor

October 24, 2019

By Kris LaGrange, UCOMM BLOG

Due to bad work that was done by an anti-union ABC contractor, three people lost their lives and more than 30 were injured when the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans collapsed. Video evidence emerged in the days after the collapse showing support beams buckling under the weight of the building. The building was so unstable that the search for two of the three murdered workers had to be stopped until two cranes were imploded on Sunday. Unions in New Orleans told UCOMM that the contractor Citadel Builders was using unlicensed plumbers and electricians on the job. Citadel had pled no contest to these charges in August in another case. The developer of the site, Kalias, also has a long history of cutting corners and neglecting their properties. In 2017, a man died at one of their properties after they failed to fix a broken elevator. The son of owner Mohan Kalias also spent 30 months in prison after he pled guilty to theft of government funds. At the sentencing, the judge accused Mohan of letting his son take the fall for him.

UCOMM also reported this week on the Chicago teachers strike. Teachers in the third-largest school district in the country are striking in an effort to get smaller class sizes, better pay and benefits, and more prep time for teachers. In advance of the strike, the Chicago Teachers Union released a heart-wrenching video from one of their members who is a special education teacher on the South Side of Chicago. She had her gas cut off, is behind on her bills, and is about to be evicted from her home. She drives Uber in her free time to try and make ends meet. The Chicago Teachers are striking over social issues and are testing this strategy. This fight is proof positive that organized labor can not rely on Democrats anymore.

On this week’s UCOMM Live podcast, we had clips from myself talking about the Hard Rock Hotel Collapse with a local podcast in New Orleans and discussed the actions of some brave, union ironworkers who raced to the scene to help out, only to be told that they didn’t want any union men near the job. We also took a look at the agreement between the UAW and GM to end the strike. While an agreement has been reached, UAW members will continue to walk the picket line until the deal is voted on by the full membership. A UAW member was killed on the picket line in Tennessee on October 22nd. The UAW is also dealing with another strike, this time at Mack Trucks, so UCOMM took a look at why they walked out. Plus Social Security checks are getting bigger thanks to a Democratic Congress in 1975, not the person currently sitting in the White House. 

October 24, 2019

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