Mayor Adams & an NYPD officer (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)
Those who live, work, and visit New York City deserve to feel safe, whether walking to the store, visiting a park, or taking the subway. For those who commute to work in the city, like many union construction workers, they deserve to feel safe and know they will go home to their families at night. Unfortunately, right now in New York City, crime is rising, and violence is permeating our normal way of life. It feels like every day, headlines are filled with stories highlighting preventable and tragic loss of life. In fact, the NYPD recently reported that crime in New York City spiked 38.5% in January of this year compared to January 2021, with 9,566 reported ‘major crimes’ in the first month of 2022.
This problem is not unique to New York, it is happening nationwide, and the trend remains troubling.
Unfortunately, the uptick in crime recently hit close to home. A young and talented union carpenter was killed just at the end of January while on his way home from the store. He was only 25 years old and had his entire future in front of him. His father, who is also a union carpenter, mourns his only son. I speak for the entire District Council of Carpenters when I say our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Any loss of life is heartbreaking, but it is truly devastating to see one of our own union brothers have his young life cut short.
As union carpenters, we work both on and off the job to keep our members safe, which is why we advocate for protections and safety measures for hardworking New Yorkers every day. Now, it is time to come together as a city and make a change before we lose more precious lives. New Yorkers have never shied away from a challenge. We have lived through tremendously challenging times -- 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, the COVID-19 pandemic, and more. The recent increase in crime is no different. We refuse to let our way of life and pursuit of happiness be derailed by those whose intentions are to tear communities apart, rather than build them up.
It is time that we support and invest in common-sense programs that will make the city safer. When the NYC Carpenters Union endorsed Eric Adams to run New York City, not only did we understand we were endorsing a pro-labor mayor, but also, we knew he would work tirelessly to keep us safe. We are proud to support Mayor Adams’ efforts to ensure public safety as a top priority.
In the union, we offer our members access to treatment for mental health issues, so we speak from a place of knowledge when we say that as a city, we need renewed investments in mental health treatment and care. Likewise, we require our members to participate in trainings and certifications to maintain safety standards, so we feel strongly that there should be investment in education, community building, and enforcement.
The bottom line – we must construct a safer city and create a stronger economy for all New Yorkers.
We have endured a long couple of years of COVID-19 pain and restrictions that have upended our lives. Now, spring is around the corner, and people are ready to re-enter society in a new way, but only if we feel safe to do so. More people are returning to work in the city and construction is resuming, but a lot more people who live in the city and beyond want to return to spend money shopping, seeing Broadway shows, visiting loved ones, going out to dinner, and taking advantage of all the city has to offer. These activities are the lifeblood of our city and its people.
The NYC Carpenters Union built this city over the last 100 years, and alongside New Yorkers, we have weathered a lot of ups and downs. We believe that to properly revitalize our economy, there must be safety measures in place, so that people feel safe doing everything from using mass transportation and to simply walking around their own neighborhoods.
Facing this problem head-on and forging long-lasting solutions will not be easy, but with new leadership at the helm, we could turn over a new leaf and build a safer city for everyone. Let’s work together to invest in our neighborhoods and communities, create connections, and build each other up. That’s the union carpenters’ way, but most importantly, that’s the New York way.
Joseph Geiger is Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the New York City & Vicinity District Council of Carpenters. On Twitter @CarpentersNYC.