Category Archives: News

Make the Road New York Responds to the Deaths of NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos

by Thomas Altfather Good

(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)

NEW YORK (Dec. 21, 2014) – In the wake of the deaths of NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, Make the Road New York lead organizer Jose Lopez gave the following statement on behalf of the organization’s 16,000 Latino and black members:

“Today we express our condolences to the families of NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, who were killed yesterday in Brooklyn. Our thoughts and prayers are also with the family of the young woman who was shot in Baltimore by the same man. We know the grief of loss all too well. We often find ourselves mourning the loss of family members, neighbors, and loved ones to violence — whether at the hands of the police or violence within our communities. This grief grounds us in the ongoing work to ensure safety, dignity, and respect for all in our communities.

“All attempts made to link the tragic death of these two officers to the local or national movement — which has called for a justice system that works for all — is dangerous and misguided. This is a time when we must all stand together against senseless violence.”

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

And Still We March

by Thomas Altfather Good

“Black Lives Matter”
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)

NEW YORK — December 13, 2014. Several thousand New Yorkers took to the streets on Saturday to express outrage at police for their role as trigger-men in the numerous deaths of unarmed African American men and boys — and at the judicial system for its history of exonerating police involved in these killings.

On a cold, windy, Winter day, protesters – a multi-generational, multicultural mix – marched from Washington Square to One Police Plaza. Their beef? The list of young Black men — one only 12-years-old, not yet a man — killed by police is lengthy and growing with alarming regularity. As if that wasn’t enough to bring protesters into the streets prosecutors seem unable to convince grand juries that sufficient probable cause exists for an indictment, often despite damning evidence. District attorneys appear inept, unable to obtain a mere indictment — not a conviction, an indictment. From Ferguson, Missouri, to Staten Island, New York, district attorneys seem incompetent. In Staten Island, Dan Donovan failed to secure an indictment for the Eric Garner homicide — in a town where it is often said that any DA could indict a ham sandwich. The possibility of complicity has been raised, further fueling discord. And on Saturday 30,000 protesters descended on Manhattan to express their discontent with the defenders of civilization. The solidarity and civility of the marchers, as good an example of diversity as you would find anywhere, made many observers, including this reporter, proud to be a New Yorker.

A multigenerational set of Sisters
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)

The ever-expanding List
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)

A march marshal
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)

A legal system — and a chokehold?
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)

For some activists it’s been a long struggle
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)

The UAW contingent
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)

Legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)

“Proud to be out in the streets today with my UAW sisters and brothers
and New Yorkers of conscience as we marched for justice for
Eric Garner and all those who have suffered
at the hands of police misconduct and prosecutorial indifference.”
– Scott Sommer, UAW Region 9A Subregional Director

(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)

A UAW activist from Local 2325
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)

“I am Eric Garner”`
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)

“Stop Police Brutality…”
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)

A circle of hope
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)

No more Mr. Nice Guy…
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good)

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

“The failure of the District Attorney in Staten Island to obtain
an indictment in the killing of Eric Garner at the hands of the
NYPD is not only shocking to the conscience, but an absurd and
outrageous result
in light of publicly available evidence.

Recent incidents of abusive police actions in Ferguson, Staten Island,
and Brooklyn, cannot go without those responsible being held
accountable. In those places where the local authorities fail to
act, it is incumbent that the Department of Justice step up and
seek justice not just for the victims, but to attack poisonous
policing practices.

Julie Kushner, Director, UAW Region 9A

Thomas Altfather Good is a proud member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981

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.”