A recent Wall Street Journal article laid out NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio’s vision for an Amazon-ed Big Apple: a unionized labor force. Katie Honan writes:
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that New York City employees of Amazon.com Inc. should unionize and that their organizing wouldn’t prompt the company to pull out of a deal to build a new campus in Queens and bring 25,000 high-paying jobs to the location.
“I think their stance on unionization reflects a different time,” Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, said of Amazon at an unrelated press conference. “Now that people are more and more concerned about decent wages and benefits, I think Amazon’s gonna have to reconsider that.”
They mayor set forth a vision of Amazon as a company that will be responsive to labor organizing and pressures for livable wages and decent working conditions. Keen observers of Amazon’s track record, however, might not be quite so optimistic. Honan goes on to quote SLU’s Stephanie Luce:
Stephanie Luce, a professor of labor studies at the City University of New York, said the company’s union battles around the world are well-documented, even in cities and countries with stronger union ties than New York City.
“It’s a real stretch to think that they can have enough leverage to make them fold,” she said. “It would be naive to believe that any city really has enough clout to make Amazon cave to demands, especially after they’re here.”
Read the full article at the Wall Street Journal.
School bus maintenance and driving has long been a tricky business in New York City. In the face of mounting maintenance costs, excessive emissions and flatlining wages, the Transit Workers Union (TWU) has proposed a novel — and potentially transformative — solution for the city’s school buses.
This week, TWU international president John Samuelsen and Manhattan New York City Council member Daniel Garodnick outlined the plan in the New York Daily News:
Here’s our plan. Let’s establish a unionized, worker-owned cooperative to transport students in non-polluting (and air-conditioned) electric school buses. For the pilot, we envision the worker cooperative entering into a contract with the Board of Education to provide service on approximately 15 existing routes that are not permanently assigned to any private company. Continue reading TWU Proposes School Bus Coop
On the occasion of Labor Day this year, New York City received some welcome news courtesy of “The State of the Unions 2016,” the latest report from Murphy Professors Ruth Milkman and Stephanie Luce. Amid declining rates of unionization nationwide, the Big Apple remains strong, with over 25% of workers unionized.
According to the report, entitled “The State of the Unions,” NYC’s unionization rate has increased steadily over the past three years, from 21.5% in 2012 up to 25.5% last year.
From the New York Times:
About 70 percent of public-sector workers in the city and the state are union members, compared with just 19 percent of private-sector workers in the city and 13 percent in the rest of the state. Still, both of those rates are much higher than those of the nation, where less than 7 percent of private-sector workers — or about one in 15 — belong to unions.
All told, there are about 901,000 unionized workers living in New York City, slightly less than half the state’s total of 1.99 million. Only California has more — about 2.5 million in 2015, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. But that total amounted to only about one in six workers in California, compared with slightly less than one in four in New York State.
Read more at the NYTimes or see the full report here.
Photo by MTA Photos via flickr (CC-BY)
By Sarah Hughes
If you’ve been around Murphy recently, you’ve probably heard rumblings about the PSC contract battle. As a labor school, Murphy Institute faculty, students and staff study and put into practice the fight for labor rights. Now, as members of the Professional Staff Congress-CUNY and AFSCME District Council 37, Murphy community members are in a fight for fair labor conditions all our own. To give a bit of context, we’ve assembled an explainer. Read on to learn how we got here — and where things might be headed.
What’s going on with CUNY?
Since 2010 CUNY workers, faculty and staff, have been without a contract. Our union, the Professional Staff Congress, has been working the regular routes to a contract: members have written countless petitions and letters, endorsed a pro-labor mayor, endorsed the governor, lobbied for a new, labor-friendly chancellor, held mass meetings and rallies, got arrested and lobbied tirelessly in Albany.
In the meantime, Gov. Cuomo and the legislature has underfunded CUNY to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, and is threatening something much more drastic this spring. Continue reading CUNY On Strike?
This past Sunday, dozens of B&H workers publicly aired their grievances against their employer, the largest non-chain photo retailer in the country. Employees marched into the NYC store to deliver a letter and launch a campaign calling for the business to “fix dangerous workplace conditions, end discrimination against Latino employees, and stop wage theft at their two Brooklyn warehouses.”
Laura Gottesdiener covered the action for Al Jazeera America (“Photo retailer B&H faces unwanted exposure over worker safety“), writing:
In the main B&H warehouse located in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard, the walls and ceilings are insulated with fiberglass that fills the air and flecks off onto the worker’s skin, causing rashes, respiration problems and daily nosebleeds, employees say. Inside a second warehouse, on Evergreen Avenue in Brooklyn, employees say they have worked amid asbestos-insulated tubing. “They would tell us to clean the tubes,” recalled maintenance worker Miguel Angel Muñoz Meneses, “but nobody wanted to touch them.” Continue reading B&H: Labor Exploiter?
As New York State moves towards a $15/hr wage floor for fast food workers, some are asking: are fast food workers enough? In City & State this week, James Parrott and Jennifer Jones-Austin (Opinion: The Importance of a $15 Wage Floor for New York’s Nonprofits) argue for a wage increase for “[t]he 250,000 workers in New York’s nonprofit sector providing essential human services.” They write:
Over 80 percent of these workers are women, most are not represented by a labor union, and nearly two-fifths have at least a 4-year bachelor’s degree (twice the share as in fast food).
Yet half of this workforce makes less than $15 an hour. That’s not nearly enough to provide for basic family budget needs in any part of our state. Like fast-food workers, the earnings of many human services workers are so low that they qualify for public assistance.
Human services pay, they note, is directly linked to state allocations for human service contract funding. They write:
It makes good fiscal sense for the state to increase human services contract funding to raise the pay of low-paid nonprofit workers. High employee turnover will decline, yielding hiring costs savings and improved service quality. After all, many of these government-funded services are intended to help low-income families get back on their feet and to better care for their children and other family members. Improved delivery of these essential services will save taxpayers in the long run, as will the reduced use of public assistance by nonprofit workers.
For the full piece, visit City & State.
Photo by The All-Nite Images via flickr (CC-BY-SA).