Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

Labor Union

Labor Union

  • Lessons from the Frontlines of Successful Movement Building in 2022

    A labor rally (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)


    Throughout the pandemic, our nation’s essential workers risked their lives and that of their families to fuel our economy and keep us safe. Yet, as they did so, they received inadequate pay and were often left out of the process of crafting policies supposedly intended to protect them. All the while,, and

    Rediscovering the Power of Unions

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    Labor movement (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    It was called “Striketober.” While politicians in Washington bickered over infrastructure, jobs, and the social safety net, unionized workers across the heartland went on strike to get their fair share directly.

    At one point in October, over 90,000 unionized workers issued

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  • New York Must Slam the Door on Wage Theft

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    Construction workers (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photo Office)


    The construction industry workforce all across this state is keeping New York’s economic engine revving, building new homes, businesses, hospitality and retail venues in communities from Buffalo to the Bronx.

    Yet for all their hard work, many are still being ripped off, or getting paid far less than what they were promised, and what they are legally entitled to be compensated.
    Whether they are being knowingly underpaid by contractors for overtime hours or the contractor who hired

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  • The Next Mayor Our City Needs

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    Henry Garrido, the author (photo: District Council 37)


    [Update: two days after this op-ed column first published, CD37 announces its support of Eric Adams for mayor]

    On January 1, a new Mayor will take on what is — even under normal circumstances — one of the most important and challenging elected offices in our nation. New York City’s next executive leader will inherit a city ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic and resulting citywide shutdown. The events of the last year devastated our communities, shuttered businesses, and

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  • New York's Activist Left and Organized Labor Begin Choosing Their Next City Council Class

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    The City Council chambers (photo: William Alatriste)


    With 31 members facing term-limits and with special elections slated to fill five recent vacancies, it is set to be a transformative year for the New York City Council. City politics have undergone a dynamic shift since the last class of Council members was seated after the 2017 municipal election, and activists and organized labor are hoping to take advantage of that fact in announcing their support for a new crop of Council contenders.

    Almost every “open” City Council seat where no

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  • CUNY’s Adjunct Faculty Should Have the Same Job Protections as New York’s Fast-Food Workers

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    CUNY grads (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayor's Office)


    There’s an unwarranted assumption that workers with college degrees are at the top of the heap in terms of not only earnings but also rights and dignity. Despite the obvious benefits of desk work, especially work that can be done remotely during a pandemic, the fact is that many highly-educated workers in New York City are plagued by the same low wages and lack of job security that fast-food workers have been fighting for years. Such is the plight of 15,000 Adjunct Faculty who teach hundreds of

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  • Queens Deserves Better Than a Development Plan That Benefits Too Few

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    Flushing Waterfront development rendering


    When faced with a crisis, whether 9-11 or Hurricane Sandy, New York has always rebuilt. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic damage means that, now more than ever, we need to invest in our city. 

    But that doesn’t mean that all development is created equal, or that all proposed projects should get a blank check under the guise of recovery. That is why we have a review process for developments seeking to

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  • AirTrain LaGuardia is Economic Stimulus New York Needs to Turn The Corner

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    Rendering of the Airtrain LaGuardia (photo: A Better Way to LGA )


    When it comes to rebuilding an economy mired in crisis, my brothers and sisters in the Building and Construction Trade unions have been on the front lines time and time again. We know that building back our economy always begins with building up our infrastructure better than before. And today is no different.

    AirTrain LaGuardia is a perfect example of an infrastructure project that can lead the way in putting New York City

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  • New Reason Not to Fall for Trump's Immigrant Labor Threat Narrative

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    Construction workers, New York (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Among the many conversations I’ve had about the upcoming election, one stands out in my mind.  It was with an old friend who is riding out the pandemic in upstate New York. She told me about an acquaintance of hers there, a white male construction worker, who is a steadfast Trump supporter. She could not understand why, given that he is struggling economically, he finds the ‘MAGA’ narrative so appealing. “What he is really angry about is all those Mexicans and Guatemalans around here who are taking

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  • Our Response to the Covid Crisis Shows Why Labor Unions are Essential

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    Union worker on the job during the coronavirus pandemic


    Those who work in the industry have always known it, but COVID-19 made it clear to the public: construction is essential.

    Through thick and thin, the unionized construction industry remains the vital sign of America. These workers erect critical infrastructure — from highways and airports to schools, government buildings, and health-care facilities. During times of crisis, these construction workers possess unique skills to quickly transform non-traditional spaces into critical care centers.

    In the midst of

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  • New York’s Working Men and Women are Ready To Go Back to Work

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    Construction needs to boom again (photo: governor's office)


    New York, and the nation, are recovering from an economic hit unlike any other in our history. It has been tough and now is the time to get back to work.

    Let’s build our way out of the pain of the last several months with innovative, ambitious, and transformative projects that will put wages for working New Yorkers back into the economy and let our hard-hit state speed the healing by rebuilding our aging infrastructure.

    Hard work is the backbone of our nation. Hard work is what gives us purpose.

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  • Enough Talk, Time to Give FDNY EMS Their Due

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    Mayor de Blasio visits with EMS (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    The coronavirus pandemic has compelled us to take stock of the racial and socioeconomic inequities that have burdened our city’s more than 5 million New Yorkers of color for generations. These obstacles to their upward mobility exist not only in health care, education, and housing but within our own municipal workforce.

    The most glaring among them happens to also be one of particularly cruel irony given COVID-19’s onslaught on the city’s 9-1-1 system and related services: the unequal pay

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  • Front-Line Workers Must Prove They Contracted Coronavirus on the Job to Receive Workers' Comp

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    Nurses at the frontlines of the coronavirus battle (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Nine weeks after Governor Andrew Cuomo closed all but essential businesses and services, many of the state’s essential workers are now finding themselves struggling with their employers and insurance companies for injury benefits related to COVID-19, and for those who die, their survivors are left to pick up the mantle.

    Infected front-line staff, from health-care workers to grocery store clerks, are being asked to prove they contracted the virus on the job in order to

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  • A Bad Deal at the Municipal Credit Union

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    Council Member Dromm, the author (photo: William Alatriste/New York City Council)


    As we confront the COVID-19 pandemic in New York, millions of residents face serious financial insecurity, and are worried about how they are going to pay their bills. They are worried about themselves and their loved ones getting sick or not being able to work due to the social distancing regulations in place.

    For workers at Municipal Credit Union, the largest credit union in New York, the crisis has only made recent negotiations between management

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  • As Albany Considers Regulations, Gig Economy Workers Must Be Heard

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    (photo: Don Pollard/Governor's Office)


    I recently attended a fascinating panel on a topic that will be hotly-debated in Albany in 2020 – the regulation of the gig economy workforce. I listened to representatives from organized labor. We heard from spokespeople from technology platforms like Postmates and DoorDash. There were academics. There were even public officials, such as State Senator Diane Savino, the sponsor of a bill

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  • Why I’m Voting No on the CUNY Staff Contract

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    PSC CUNY rally, with the author center back (photo: @PeteHarrisonNYC)


    After over two years of negotiations, the Professional Staff Congress of the City University of New York (PSC-CUNY) and the university have reached a tentative deal on a new contract for the 30,000 faculty, adjuncts, librarians, and professional staff in our union.

    The leadership of PSC-CUNY has hailed the contract as a historic deal and part of a larger stand against austerity. In particular, they sight the pay

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  • A Historic CUNY Labor Contract

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    (photo: Dave Sanders)


    At 2 a.m. on Friday October 18, I walked out of the Manhattan headquarters of the City University of New York (CUNY) having helped to line-edit a labor contract memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the sixth time that day.

    I sit on the bargaining team of the Professional Staff Congress, an American Federation of Teachers local that represents some 30,000 employees at CUNY. The bargaining unit includes adjunct and full-time faculty, professional staff, graduate employees, college laboratory technicians, and many others. More than half a

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  • New York Nurses Threaten Major Strike Over ‘Understaffing’

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    (photo: @nynurses)


    During one night shift at the children’s hospital where she worked as a nurse, Nicolette Mabeza‘s unit filled up with intubated children. She and the other nurses were frantic.

    “It was just the entire floor running around,” said Mabeza, who worked in the intensive care unit at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in Washington Heights. “Some nurses had two intubated patients and they weren’t even right next to each other.”

    Nurses stretched to the limit by understaffing would regularly cry on the job, she

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  • How to Expand Opportunity in Construction for Those Left Behind

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    (photo: governor's office)


    A lot has been made of the disagreement between open shop contractors and union trades over decisions by owners of private projects to supplement select trades. But where others get lost in conflict, I see opportunity. 

    In many cases, open shop labor, machine operation, and some carpentry services are integrated to perform certain work, including safety and general condition services. But for many owners and construction managers, the reality is that most of the work on open shop projects is actually

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  • Big Upsides to Downstate Gaming: Union Jobs and Transit Revenue

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    (photo: Governor's Office)


    New York has a proud history of thinking big and building bold. As New York searches for routes to generate new revenue to fund critical priorities, and drive job growth through significant private investment projects, we have an unparalleled opportunity right in front of us.

    Albany leaders should lift the moratorium on the expansion of casino development downstate and begin an open competition for the remaining three gaming licenses as approved by New York voters in 2013. No other opportunity is currently

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  • Prevailing Wage Extension Would Kill Jobs and Limit Housing for New Yorkers

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    (photo: governor's office)


    If there’s one thing that New Yorkers can agree on, it’s that we should always strive to create new jobs, not take them away. Amazon’s recent decision to withdraw its planned “HQ2” from Long Island City is an example of us failing on this front. However, public officials still have an opportunity to redeem themselves by protecting local workers from a proposed prevailing wage expansion.

    Discussions are currently underway in Albany to extend prevailing wage requirements to private construction projects and could cost New

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  • Anti-Union Amazon is Not Welcome Here

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    Jimmy Van Bramer, the author, at a rally (photo: @TeamstersJC16)


    Let me be clear: if Amazon is anti-union, it is not welcome in New York City.

    This is a union town. It is wrong to subsidize Amazon’s arrival after the company has proudly proclaimed to the world that it is anti-union and will fight any effort on the part of Amazon employees to unionize.

    Our city and state would be contributing to economic inequality by allowing Amazon to increase the pool of New York City workers who are not in a union.

    Unions have always been the great

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  • New York City Is Still a Union Town and That’s a Great Thing for Our Future

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    New York City - a beacon of the labor movement - has a duty to stand up for construction unions and serve as a model for rest of country

    The labor movement is under attack. Over the past few years, assaults on unions and labor have escalated at a breakneck pace. From recent court cases like Janus v. AFSCME to right to work legislation creeping through state legislatures, one

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  • New York City is No Longer Just a Union Town; Open Shop Construction Workers are Finding Their Voice and Must Be Heard

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    (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office)


    We’ve all heard that old refrain: “New York City is a union town.” In some cases, that’s still true, as many unions remain both politically influential and dominant in their industries.

    But the truth is that New York City is no longer a union town when it comes to construction, as the vast majority of private sector work is being done by the open shop. A review of New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) pulled permits shows that most private construction work across the city –

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  • Infrastructure Planning Should Not Include Vilifying Workers

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    Development and infrastructure are among the most widely discussed topics in New York City. Over the last few weeks, for example, City & State hosted the Rebuilding New York Summit focusing on infrastructure, financing, and policy; an article came out regarding MTA contracting reform; and ...