Category Archives: News

Schneiderman, DiNapoli Approve Hospital Closure Despite Protests — by Roy Murphy




City Council member Brad Landers addresses protestors
(Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN)

 
BROOKLYN, NY – October 29, 2014. Three days after a protest march down Atlantic Avenue against the closure of the full-service hospital, New York State Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, and Comptroller, Thomas Di Napoli, approved the State University of New York’s (SUNY’s) plan to sell Brooklyn’s Long Island College Hospital (LICH) to a real estate developer.

 
The 157-year-old hospital served a fast-growing swath of Brooklyn stretching from Red Hook to Williamsburg.

 
The protest march of about 60 people included City Council member Brad Lander and Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez. A month before New York’s Comptroller Scott Stringer had said, “Brooklyn’s exploding population needs more health care services, not less.” And in July last year Mayor Bill de Blasio, while he was a mayoral candidate, was arrested while protesting the closure of the LICH.

 
SUNY has repeatedly said it had to shut down LICH and sell the property because the hospital was losing millions of dollars a month. However, evidence has emerged that LICH treated thousands of patients for free for almost two years, losing at least $100 million in revenues. It could not bill the insurance companies for that money because it failed to register its doctors with the companies.




Protestors on Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn
(Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN)

It is not yet known whether SUNY has to repay $140 million it borrowed from the Othmer Endowment.

 
“What happened to the Othmer Endowment money?” Lander said to the protestors. “Was the bidding process legal and appropriate? At so many points it appeared rigged,” he said.

 
SUNY Board Chairman H. Carl McCall says the sale will include “health care services for the community” in the form of an ambulatory care center. “This includes the construction of a new state-of-the-art facility and a total private investment by NYU Langone Medical Center of $175 million,” McCall said.

 
The march came after nearly two years of community protests and legal action. A coalition of community organizations, health care providers and elected officials has maintained that northwest Brooklyn’s growing population needs a full-service hospital, not a “walk-in” emergency department.

 


Roy Murphy is a regular contributor to NLN and a member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981

Xerox Puts A Living Wage On Hold — by Roy Murphy


EZ Pass Call Center worker, and CWA shop steward, Daniel Quinones wants a living wage
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

 
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — October 18, 2014. On Saturday, the newest members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1102 – the EZ Pass Call Center workers – rallied on Staten Island in support of their union’s upcoming contract talks with Xerox.

 




EZ Pass Call Center workers – members of CWA Local 1102
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

 
The newest members of CWA Local 1102 work at the EZ Pass call center for New York State, located on Staten Island. The call center provides customer support for EZ Pass subscribers.

 
Six years ago the workers voted for union representation, which improved their working conditions, but the situation at the call center rapidly deteriorated after Xerox implemented a piecework scheme called “achievement based compensation.” Customer Service Representatives are paid approximately 87 cents per call. This, combined with frequent computer breakdowns – resulting in slowdowns, means workers struggle to earn $15 an hour.

 




Gina Magarino, CWA Shop Steward for Call Center Workleaders
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

 
The union enjoys significant political support. Politicians at the rally included New York State Senator Diane Savino, the Assemblyman representing Staten Island, Michael Cusick, representatives from New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office, and representatives from the Working Families Party.

 




State Senator Diane Savino addressing the Call Center Workers
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

 
Commenting on a recent decertification election, which failed to unseat the union, State Senator Diane Savino told the workers, “It’s never about your hourly pay, but the stripping of your rights. They want you to say, this union’s doing nothing for me. Never allow them to convince you that you can do better on your own.”

 
“Achievement based compensation benefits the company but not the workers,” said shop steward Daniel Quinones. “If you have one bad call 30 percent of your pay is docked…We need an hourly pay rate.”

 
View Photos From The Rally


Roy Murphy and Thomas Altfather Good are members of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981

National Grid Workers Fight Back — by Roy Murphy



TWU Local 101 member on the picket line
(Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN)

 
NEW YORK, October 9, 2014 – In a massive show of support, about a third of TWU Local 101 1,500 members rallied in front of National Grid’s headquarters in downtown Brooklyn to protest their giveback demands in current contract negotiations.

 
National Grid, a British-owned international company, is demanding a five-year wage freeze or else it will significantly increase the workers’ health care contributions.

 
TWU International President Harry Lombardo said National Grid (which the union now dubs “National Greed”) wants givebacks from the workers despite US profits of $1.7 billion last year and revenues of $24 billion world wide.

 
He had a fiery response.



(Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN)

 
Lombardo told the rally that last year National Grid’s CEO had a 56 percent pay rise to earn $7.8 million dollars, but it had “nothing for your 1,500 members.” He said its demand is the “worst, slimiest example of corporate greed.”

 
Setting a tough line, Lombardo said, “The time has come. We are with you if we have to shut this company down. We will be with you as long as it takes.”

 
Local 101 President Mike Conigliario declared there will be “no more givebacks. ” The workers had “nothing left to give.”

 
At the beginning of contract talks last month, Conigliario reminded National Grid that “during Hurricane Sandy and for months afterward – through at least January – Local 101 members worked 16-hour shifts, 7 days straight, for weeks” to bring New York’s electricity and gas back on line.

 
TWU Local 101 is asking for a reasonable pay increase, better on-the-job safety rules and the maintenance of current health benefits.

 


Roy Murphy is a regular contributor to NLN and a member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981

Another “Sandy” Disaster — by Thomas Altfather Good

Sanford “Sandy” Rubenstein at a protest in New York’s One Police Plaza on May 7, 2008. At the time Rubenstein was representing the family of Sean Bell, the Queens man shot and killed by police on November 25, 2006.
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

 
NEW YORK — October 11, 2014. Earlier this week attorney Sanford Rubenstein’s law firm filed a “notice of claim,” indicating the firm’s intent to sue NYC for $75 million, on behalf of the family of Eric Garner. Garner died while being arrested by NYPD officers (the death was ruled a homicide by the NYC Medical Examiner) on July 17, 2014. Also this week – Rubenstein was accused of rape by a top official of Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. Rubenstein denied the claim but is no longer representing the Garner family, having withdrawn from the case – Sharpton has yet to announce who will represent the family in the pending litigation. Police are investigating the rape claim.

 


Thomas Altfather Good is editor of NLN and a member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981

Labor March (Mis)led by Cuomo — By Roy Murphy




Cuomo placards discarded by UAW workers
Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN

 
NEW YORK — September 9, 2014. Several thousand workers marched up Fifth Avenue to Central Park for the annual Labor Day parade in New York on September 6, 2014. They were observing a city tradition more than 125 years old.

 
Teamsters, transit workers, teachers and actors were headed up by politicians, few of whom show their support for workers at any other time.




Frank Hickey, Tim Sheard, Yusef Salaam and president Larry Goldbetter
marching with the National Writers Union banner
Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN

 
Governor Andrew Cuomo was at the head of the Transport Workers union. According to the New York Times, his staff physically blocked his Democratic Primary challenger Zephyr Teachout from meeting him.

 
Unlike their Transport Workers Union counterparts, UAW workers were less inclined to be a vehicle for Mr. Cuomo’s re-election effort. Dozens of Cuomo placards lay discarded on the sidewalk behind the UAW contingent, remaining on the pavement after the march stepped off. Some UAW members commented that they know “whose pocket Cuomo is in” and whose interests he really serves.




The UAW band at work
Photo: Roy Murphy / NLN

 
The march called for the support of organized labor, and celebrated its victories. As Joe Rivierzo of Local 360 said, “We’re the people … that brought you the weekend, the eight-hour day, overtime, healthcare, disability insurance, worker’s compensation.”

“We Won’t Go Back” — Thousands Protest Death of Eric Garner by Roy Murphy




Protesters at the “We Won’t Go Back” march on Staten Island
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)


STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — August 23, 2014. The Reverend Al Sharpton led a crowd of three to four thousand in Staten Island on Saturday, marching in protest at the death of Eric Garner. Garner died when New York City police applied a chokehold on him on July 17.



“Support NYPD — Stop Police Brutality”
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)


Sharpton appeared with Garner’s widow, Esaw. Other relatives of people killed by New York City police, present at the march, included Kadiatou Diallo, whose son Amadou, an unarmed Guinean immigrant, was fatally shot by police outside of his Bronx apartment in 1999, and Constance Malcolm, the mother of Ramarley Graham, an unarmed 18-year-old pursued and shot in his own bathroom in the Bronx by a New York City police officer in 2012.





Gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout with National Writers Union president Larry Goldbetter
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)


Supporters included Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham University law professor who is running against Governor Andrew Cuomo in the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial primary, former Governor David Paterson, and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.





New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at the Garner march
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)


Protesters shouted slogans including, “Hands up don’t shoot,” a chant that originated in Ferguson in protests against the police shooting of Michael Brown, and “I can’t breathe,” Garner’s last words.





“I Can’t Breathe” — Eric Garner’s last words
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)


A grand jury will meet next month to determine whether anyone should be criminally charged in Garner’s death. The city’s medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.





“Hands Up, Don’t Shoot…”
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)


The United Federation of Teachers and 1199 SEIU, a healthcare workers union, co-sponsored the march, along with the National Action Network and the NAACP. There were no incidents or arrests.





Labor was well represented in the march
(Pictured: UAW members Scott Sommer, Joel Schlemowitz, and George Albro)
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)





Part of the NAACP contingent
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)

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Photo Reprint Policy: Reuse encouraged, attribution required — “Thomas Altfather Good”

all images are available under the terms of the
GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL)

© 2014 Thomas Altfather Good

Another Death In The Forgotten Borough by Thomas Altfather Good




STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — July 19, 2014. Photo: Reverend Al Sharpton (of the National Action Network) with Esaw Garner, widow of Eric Garner, at a protest held on Saturday, in the Staten Island neighborhood where Mr. Garner died while in police custody.

Eric Garner died on Thursday, July 17, while being pinned to the ground by police during an arrest – a video shot by a friend of Garner’s shows the man being choked and crying out, “I can’t breathe” several times before he stopped moving or speaking. The Saturday rally and march was attended by hundreds of Staten Islanders. Police blocked traffic on Victory Boulevard and Bay Street, in the busy Tompkinsville section of the Island, to allow the large procession to march from the Mt. Sinai church rally site to the 120 Precinct.

Two of the officers who arrested Mr. Garner are being investigated by the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau – for using a chokehold on the victim.

Below: New York City Public Advocate Letitia James at the Garner protest.





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Reprint Policy: Reuse encouraged, attribution required — “Thomas Altfather Good”

all images are available under the terms of the
GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL)

© 2014 Thomas Altfather Good