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).
By Michael Murphy
As part of the Union Semester program at the Murphy Institute, students are enrolled in a course titled “Work, Culture, and Politics in New York City.” The course readings are designed to complement trips to museums, archives, guided tours, and industrial sites such as the Brooklyn Navy Yard, allowing students to take advantage of the wealth of resources offered by the city. Recently, the class visited two outdoor parks that have changed the way New Yorkers think about the potential uses of public space, the built environment, and the waterfront.
First, the class traveled to the High Line in Chelsea to explore the intersection of industry, nature, and economic development. This former elevated railway was transformed into a public park by the nonprofit Friends of the High Line, which generated financial support from private donors and the city. It runs along Tenth Avenue until a sharp turn at West 30th Street allows visitors to meander closer to the Hudson River. During our visit, students were asked to take a photo that connects this unique urban space with the themes of the course. Continue reading Union Semester Students Explore New York City