NYC Workers: Organizing and Winning
Law and Politics, National, New York, Retail, Uncategorized

NYC Workers: Organizing and Winning

August 31, 2017

By Joe Maniscalco

Sims Recycling plant workers find strength in solidarity.

New York, NY – This might not be the halcyon days of the 1950s, but according to a new Gallup poll, support for labor unions hasn’t been this high since the Brooklyn Dodgers were running the bases in Flatbush.

A look at the poll reveals 61-percent of adults now say they back labor unions. That’s the highest it’s been since 2003, when approval for labor unions stood at 65-percent. Union support reached its zenith in the mid- to late-1950s when a whopping 75-percent of U.S. adults voiced support for organized labor.

While union rolls themselves, continue to languish in the low double-digits nationwide, with public sector rolls far outpacing those of the private sector — New York remains organized labor’s beachhead, boasting membership rolls at almost 25 percent.

And if any group of workers is on the vanguard in helping to further revitalize the trade union movement, it’s New York City workers.

Over the past year, workers from Brooklyn to Westchester have scored huge contract victories as a direct result of the courageous job actions they’ve taken in the streets.

In March, workers at the Sims Recycling plant in Sunset Park, Brooklyn won the right to organize with the Teamsters.

In July, Teamsters at the Clare Rose beer distributor in Yaphank, Long Island struck a deal with bosses following a grueling 82-day strike, buoyed by tremendous public support.

This month, movers with Teamsters Local 814 emerged with a new agreement after a summer-long lockout at New York City’s Waldner’s Business Environments.

That same tenacious spirit also continues to power 1,800 IBEW 3 workers in their five-month strike against telecommunications giant Charter/Spectrum.

At the same time, Broadway’s casting directors organized with Teamsters Local 817, are pressing their fight for union recognition and healthcare coverage.

Other unions, including the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union [RWDSU], 32BJ SEIU and UniteHere, have made, and continue to make, significant inroads in organizing New York City workers who have never been represented before.

The fights being taken to the streets are occurring across all sectors as bosses, regardless of industry, are bent on scrapping employee pensions and skipping out on healthcare costs.

As NYC Central Labor Council Present Vinny Alvarez recently told Labor Press’ Blue Collar Buzz, “As organized labor’s strength diminished over the years, we  saw the attacks increase on all working people.”

Gallup’s latest poll further finds that 39-percent of Americans want more potent labor unions. That figure represents almost a 20-year high, and just so happens to coincide with other statistics showing 78-percent of full-time workers in this country are currently living from paycheck to paycheck with half the nation’s workforce earning less than $30,000 annually.

On September 9, New York City workers will again be in the streets, but this time marching in the 2017 NYC Labor Day Parade stepping off at 44th Street and 5th Avenue. Through all the slings and arrows, they are refusing to lay down — and they’re starting to win again.

August 31, 2017

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