Blue Collar Buzz, Building Trades

USW Pres. Leo Gerard; Bassist Ben Allison On ‘Blue Collar Buzz!’

July 7, 2016 
By Joe Maniscalco 

New York – On this Sunday night’s all-new episode of LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” airing at 9 p.m. on AM970 TheAnswer. United Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard is talking Trump and the truth about so-called “free trade” in a special extended interview.

 We've also got acclaimed bassist and Recording Academy NY Chapter President Ben Allison who discusses efforts to resuscitate NY’s sagging music industry, as well as labor attorney and columnist Larry Cary who looks back on the Declaration of Independence and finds it has to a lot to teach “The Donald” about immigration.

“There is no such thing as free trade,” Gerard tells “Blue Collar Buzz” Hosts Neal Tepel and Bill Hohlfeld.

Instead, the USW President argues that the United States engages in “investment agreements” not “trade agreements” that do not benefit American workers, and actually allows for cheaper overseas steel from China to flood the market. Already, Gerard says, there are also distressing signs of the American auto industry heading to Mexico in anticipation of the widely panned Trans Pacific Partnership. 

Although he criticizes Republican legislators for failing American workers, Gerard also jeers “corporate Democrats,” warning that they are “not going to get any help from the Steelworkers,” while encouraging more support for true progressive candidates on the down ballot. 

And as for Trump — Gerard calls support for the reality show huckster “mind-numbing.”

Jazz bassist Ben Allison with Bill and Neal.

Jazz bassist Ben Allison with Bill and Neal.

From “mind-numbing” to a “no-brainer” — the Empire State Music Production Tax Credit recently sailed through the New York State Legislature promising to bolster the state’s music industry with a 25 percent tax credit here in NYC, and a 35 percent credit upstate. It now awaits Governor Andrew Cuomo's signature. Advocates maintain that the measure — bill A10083A in the Assembly and bill S7485A in the Senate — will boost the music industry much in the same way New York’s Film & Television industry has been reinvigorated in recent years. 

Allison tells LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” that New York is in the midst of a 10 to 15-year “exodus” as hard-pressed musicians and others who make music happen leave for more livable environs like Los Angeles and Nashville. 

“If it is impossible to live here, we’ll go away,” Allison laments.

Soaring real estate costs are hurting homegrown music as well. Rock legend David Bowie recored his final album “Blackstar” at The Magic Shop on Crosby Street in SoHo — enough to sanctify the space, one might assume. But no, Allison points out that The Magic Shop was forced to shutter in March — two months after Bowie’s death — after being priced out of the neighborhood.

“Part of that is the challenge of New York, but there are things that we can do,” Allison says. 

And what do Donald Trump and King George III have in common? Cary tells “Blue Collar Buzz” that both economic royalists really don’t understand the concept of American immigration. 

Old King George wanted everyone to swear Protestant allegiance to the crown, while Trump thinks Muslims and Mexicans are the problem. 

But the labor attorney and crackerjack historian reminds us all that as many as nine of the signers were immigrants — including a fellow named Alexander Hamilton. And that the country’s ability to accept naturalized citizens is one of the things that truly makes the United States exceptional. Because unlike most other countries, to be a citizen of the U.S. with all the same rights and responsibilities of other citizens requires only fidelity to the Constitution. 

“Native-born Americans don’t realize how unique we are,” Cary 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.

 
July 6, 2016

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