Despite attempts by both the ownership of the K&P Car Wash and the Association of Car Wash Owners to intimidate them, workers at the K&P Car Wash in New York voted to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), an affiliate of the United Food and Commercial Workers. K&P becomes the ninth car wash to unionize since a campaign was launched in 2012.
In our regular weekly feature, we'll be taking a look at the winners and losers of the week in the struggle for the rights of working families. The winners will be the persons or organizations that go above and beyond to expand or protect the rights of working families, while the losers will be whoever went above and beyond to limit or deny those rights.
On Saturday, June 21, the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) workers, who have been without a contract for four years, and their supporters will rally in Massapequa, N.Y., telling the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to bargain fairly with them. The LIRR workers are members of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART). Their previous contract expired in 2010, and the MTA is demanding benefit cuts and other concessions and has rejected recommendations from federal mediators that would have ended the dispute.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D) executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Patrick Foye, sent a letter to the heads of American, JetBlue and United airlines, warning them that they could lose their slots in the new central terminal at LaGuardia Airport if they don't improve pay and benefits to workers at LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports. Nearly 6,000 contract workers for the three airlines are paid at near-minimum wage levels with no benefits. Meanwhile, Cuomo said that he wants to improve the airports to world-class status.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito are unveiling a plan that would expand the number of city businesses required to provide paid sick leave for their workers by tens of thousands. Under the proposal, set to be released in Brooklyn today, any company with five or more workers would be required to provide some form of paid sick leave. According to The New York Times, the new rules would bring New York more in line with other cities, which already have similar rules.
A new campaign, launched by the New York State AFL-CIO, asks government leaders in Albany to stop thinking of corporations first and instead to focus on the needs of New Yorkers, to shift their policy proposals in the direction of 'Making NY work for hardworking New Yorkers." In addition to launching a new website and online video, the organization is asking the state's working families to sign a five-point pledge and take action to support the campaign.
After Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey, the United Steelworkers (USW) recognized a gap in the availability of Spanish-speaking Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) outreach trainers in the two storm-ravaged states. USW obtained funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to launch a new program through their Tony Mazzocchi Center to remedy the problem.
While many of the country's most active working family advocates were in Los Angeles for the AFL-CIO national convention, the rest of the country continued to operate, with legislation, elections and judicial decisions of significant importance continuing to move forward. Here are eight stories you might have missed while the media's attention was focused on the convention.
On Thursday morning, the New York City Council overrode a veto by Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) to pass a new paid sick days requirement for businesses with more than 15 employees. Employees at those businesses will earn five paid sick days each year. The law will be implemented in 2014 and initially it will apply to companies with 20 or more employees; after a year and a half it will apply to businesses with 15 or more workers. Smaller businesses will be required to provide their employees with five unpaid sick days. The victory for both workers and consumers makes New York the largest city with a paid sick days requirement.