Back to Normal: LIRR Workers Reach Deal with MTA

Categories: LIRR, Unions

C.S. Muncy
The Long Island Rail Road's Babylon stop a little after 6 a.m. today.
Governor Andrew Cuomo predictably stepped into negotiations Thursday night between union leadership and the MTA, just three days before a planned work-stoppage of more than 5,400 workers and service on the Long Island Railroad. The union had worked without a new contract for four years before the agreement was reached.

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Graduate Students at NYU Become the First Graduate-Student Union at a Private School (Again)

Categories: Labor, Unions

Photo Credit: yashima via Compfight cc
After eight years of stalled efforts, graduate students at New York University have done it: On Wednesday afternoon, graduate, research, and teaching assistants at NYU became the only graduate-student union at a private university in the United States -- for the second time. How could that be, you ask? We'll explain.

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SUNY Downstate Won't Fire 500 People at Long Island College Hospital After All -- For Now

Photo by Wlliam Alatriste; Image via Public Advocate's office
De Blasio speaks at an October 28 rally outside LICH.
Since the summer, the fight over Cobble Hill's Long Island College Hospital has dragged on and on and on, with its parent company, SUNY Downstate, saying the hospital is losing millions and must close its doors. On the other side is the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) and Public Advocate/in all likelihood your next mayor, Bill de Blasio, who like to point out that people need hospitals. Sick people mostly, or the ones who might get sick. It's kind of a specialized group.

In July, de Blasio won a restraining order to keep the hospital open, and in August, a judge ruled that SUNY had to restore services to LICH . By September, ambulances, which SUNY had barred from LICH since June, were once again delivering patients to the emergency room . And on September 13, Judge Johnny Lee Baynes ruled that SUNY's closure plan for LICH was "unconstitutionally vague" and told them it couldn't proceed.

At that point, SUNY Downstate took a different tack. On October 25, as Crain's was first to report, the company issued layoff notices to 500 employees, effective October 29.

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Hot and Crusty Workers Won Their Fight to Unionize Against Grossly-Named Bakery. Now You Can Watch a Movie About Their Struggle

Categories: Unions

Late last summer, Hot and Crusty, New York's most disgustingly named bakery chain, got exactly the wrong kind of attention. Instead of letting 23 mostly undocumented workers at the chain's Upper East Side location unionize, then-owner Mark Samson decided to behave like a petty jerk and just shut the store down. With a little help from Occupy Wall Street, 12 workers briefly took over the store, then picketed the place and ran a "street café" for a full 55 days afterward. It was pretty embarrassing for Samson. When new owners took over the location that September, they signed an agreement agreeing to re-open, rehire the staff, and recognize their union.

Now, a documentary about the workers and their amazing strike is close to completion, after getting a major cash infusion from the Sundance Institute.

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The Next Educator-in-Chief: What Will the New Mayor Do With a $25 Billion Budget?

Wikimedia Commons
The numbers for the Education budget are in and, once again, they're groundbreaking: In fiscal year 2014, City Hall will spend $25 billion--the most in New York City history--on a line item that takes up about a third of the overall city budget. But, with an election coming up, determining Bloomberg's legacy--which here includes doubling the Education budget--will be permanently out of his hands. Naturally, this has spawned speculation of the next mayor's move for the largest public school system (and budget) in the country. And, because of how this election is shaping up, the teachers' union will be sitting at the table this time around.

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The UFT & PBA's Demand for Payback From New Mayor Faces Budget Realities

Once this guy's out, the unions want their money back A-S-A-P.
October 31st, 2009. For the teachers of New York City, this date marks the last day 94,000 of them had a contract with the Bloomberg administration. Since then, the wages for our city's educators have remained at a standstill, suspended by political tensions over layoffs, attrition and mayoral control drama. On January 1, 2014, the day the new mayor takes office, the union hopes to hit the reset button on contract settlements. When that day comes, the United Federation of Teachers, along with the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, want their money back, placing City Hall and its budget in a financial bind.

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Video Footage of Cablevision Management Firing 23 Unionized Brooklyn Workers

Cablevision CEO James Dolan.
Last week we reported on the 23 Brooklyn technicians who were fired by Cablevision for allegedly refusing to work Wednesday morning.

The fired technicians were a part of a group of about 70 workers who say that they were attempting to utilize an open-door policy at the company that allows workers to voice work-related concerns to management. They requested to meet with their vice president Wednesday morning to voice their frustrations over their nearly year-long quest to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with Cablevision--a contract which workers say is being negotiated in bad faith by the company.

The workers were told that the site's vice president wasn't available to talk when they initially requested. Many of the workers decided to stay and wait for him to become available. Cablevision says the workers were asked to head out on their routes but refused to comply.

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Bus Stop: Striking Bus Drivers to Lose Benefits Today

The City Council urged Mayor Bloomberg to postpone the negotiations of school bus driver contracts yesterday in a letter that called for "restoring much needed normalcy to the thousands of students and families affected by the strike." The stakes get higher for workers today as health insurance for the striking members of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1181 expires.

44 members of the 50-person council signed off on the letter, which encouraged the mayor to accept a "cooling off" period proposed by retired Justice Milton Mollen, which would allow drivers to return to their routes while the union renegotiates its contract with the city. The council members pointed to the impact on school attendance as reason enough to stop the strike.

"Unnecessarily prolonging this strike puts the education of thousands of students, especially special needs students, at risk," the council wrote. It's not just a claim intended to tug the heartstrings -- the Department of Education reported that attendance has dropped since the strike began. Regular schools had a 89.4 percent attendance rate yesterday, while District 75, which serves special needs and disabled students, was at 70.6 percent.

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Union Insists Mayor Holds Ultimate Power to End School Bus Strike

Leaders of the Amalgamated Transit Union hosted a town hall teleconference last night to clarify facts surrounding the school bus strike -- facts that they argue have been distorted by the Bloomberg administration and the media.

Last night's telephone town hall was held for the constituents of City Councilman Jumaane Williams who represents District 45 in Brooklyn. It marked the first of what the union plans to be a series of many telephone town halls hosted in conjunction with politicians representing various districts across the city.

"It's in the mayor's hands to end this," Michael Cordiello, president of ATU Local 1181, said during the teleconference. "Quite frankly we've been trying to reach out to the mayor for over a year. It was quite clear from both sides, the companies and the union, that the mayor holds the key to ending the strike."

Getting Mayor Michael Bloomberg to sit down at the negotiation table remains a faint hope for the union and the bus operators. Although the mayor helped broker Monday's meeting between Local 1181, the bus operators and a mediator, Bloomberg maintains his position that it's up to the union to negotiate with bus companies for the Employee Protection Provision that the strikers want to preserve.

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Hot And Crusty Bakery Workers Rally To Keep Their Union

Categories: Labor, Unions

Mahoma Lopez, one of the leaders of the Hot and Crusty bakery workers, at the rally yesterday.
A crowd of out-of-work bakery employees and their supporters blocked sidewalk traffic on the corner of 63rd Street and 2nd Avenue yesterday to rally to pressure the bakery's new owners to recognize their union and reopen the bakery.

Tired of the workplace harassment, unpaid overtime, and sub-minimum wage jobs that they say was common at their bakery, workers have spent the past year organizing.

The owners of the shop at the time countered by hiring a union-busting firm, but in May, the workers won an election to form an officially recognized union.

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