The Bronx, New York City, New York - At the height of the pandemic, bank after bank began shuttering across the Bronx — between 2019 and 2021, seven banks closed 17 branches, with more than half happening in 2020, according to The Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development. The closures exacerbated an existing problem: prior to COVID-19, the Bronx had the fewest bank branches and the most check cashers and pawnshops per household in the state, possibly the country. Community organizers in the Bronx had spoken out about the closures since 2019. But they weren’t making headway with the banks, who claimed they lost money on those branches, or banking regulators, as both state and federal agencies claimed they lacked enforcement power to stop the closures. So those same organizers found a solution to address the problem themselves: a mobile banking branch, free to travel the 42-square-mile borough.
New York City
“The ALU is officially a certified UNION! This is a HUGE moment for the labor movement! Solidarity everyone! Let’s continue to fight for what we deserve!” This jubilant statement was tweeted out Jan. 11 by the Amazon Labor Union after the National Labor Relations Board officially named it the sole bargaining representative for workers at Amazon’s JFK8 warehouse. The NLRB issued its ruling over nine months after the ALU won a representation election by a wide margin at the Staten Island, New York, facility. Rejecting all 25 of Amazon’s objections to the election results, the Board gave Amazon until Jan. 25 to file a “request for review.” Once the ALU won the election April 1, 2022, Amazon could have immediately begun negotiations with the union for a first contract. Instead the union-busting behemoth chose to delay its obligations by filing spurious charges, alleging election misconduct against the ALU and the NLRB.
New York City, New York - The coronavirus pandemic laid bare the critical need for affordable housing across the United States. As millions lost their jobs, many Americans were only able to remain housed thanks to the advent of COVID-19 housing policies, including eviction moratoriums and rent freezes. In the last year, as these protections dwindled across the country, tenants in Black neighborhoods have taken up fights to improve housing access and have won significant battles. In Kansas City, Missouri, residents pushed city leaders to codify a right to legal counsel during eviction procedures for low-income residents as rents rose 10% last year. In Oakland, California, following a years-long rent strike against a landlord who wanted to kick out tenants to raise rents, voters made it illegal to evict people without reason, a win against displacement and gentrification.
As nurses from two New York hospitals fight for better treatment, the executives in charge have been boosting their own pay and slashing charity care. On Monday, 7,000 New York nurses at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan went on strike over massive short staffing. While a Montefiore spokesperson said “the union leadership’s decision will spark fear” in the public, and a Mount Sinai representative called the strike “reckless,” the hospitals have understaffed while boosting executive pay and slashing charity care.
New York City, New York - Over 7,000 nurses across two hospitals in New York City went on strike early Monday morning after contract negotiations broke down over the hospitals’ refusal to meet nurses’ staffing demands. Nurses at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and Mount Sinai in Manhattan walked out at 6 am, saying they are forced to work long hours with huge workloads that leave them burnt out, which could potentially put patients in danger. The workers “have been put in the unfortunate position of having no other choice than to strike,” said Mario Cilento, president of the New York AFL-CIO, of which the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) is an affiliate.
Left Voice spoke with Michelle Gonzalez, an ICU nurse at Montefiore Hospital and NYSNA union Executive Committee member, about the impending nurses’ strike in New York City. How did you get involved as a union activist? How long have you been organizing at your hospital? I started advocating for the union about ten years ago, and this is the second time being on the executive committee of my union. I got into organizing because there were all these issues, particularly issues related to understaffing, that affected us in the hospital. We were taking out our frustration on each other instead of coming together and fighting the boss. Many of us are involved now because we want to address the root cause of these problems.
New York City, New York - Over 10,000 nurses could strike in NYC starting next week. Key among their demands is the fight around safe staffing ratios, which determines the maximum number of patients per on-shift nurse. Nurses are fighting for better working conditions in a setting where staffing has only gotten worse since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the start of the pandemic, thousands of nurses and healthcare workers left the workforce, often from being exhausted, burnt out, and/or traumatized. Many more have also become very ill and/or died from Covid-19, after putting their lives on the line to care for patients. Surveys show large percentages of healthcare workers plan to leave the field in the near future.
New York City, New York - As many as 12,000 New York City nurses are set to go on strike on Monday, January 9. On December 21, NYC unionized nurses voted to Authorize A Strike by a landslide 98.8% vote. The nurses, organized under the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), are demanding that hospital executives address short-staffing, raise pay in line with inflation, and not cut healthcare benefits for workers. With the impending strike, hospital executives are scrambling. Nurses at New York Presbyterian hospital reached a tentative deal with bosses over the weekend, in which nurses would receive 18% in raises over the next three years. Nurses also reached tentative agreements with two more hospitals, Maimonides and Richmond University Medical Center, on January 5.
New York City, New York - Many workplaces are marked by a real tension between different types of workers: undocumented vs. citizens, union vs. non-union, and more. New York City’s Construction and General Building Laborers’ Union Local 79 has been working to overcome these divides by intentionally reaching out to undocumented and non-union workers in the construction trades. And the bosses are taking notice. Recorded in the spring of 2022 from the Local 79 headquarters in Manhattan, TRNN Editor-in-Chief Maximillian Alvarez conducts a Spanish-language interview with Alex Martinez, Walter Martinez, and José Rosas, who were all fired from their jobs at Alba Demolition after they were caught talking to Local 79 organizers on their break.
New York City, New York - Inside a renovated locker room-turned yoga studio, Harlem elementary school children view pastel-colored walls with butterflies and a ceiling full of twinkling stars. The smell of peppermint infuses the room, and they can hear a softly splashing waterfall. A poster of former President Barack Obama reads, “Our destiny is not written for us, but by us,” and another reminds the school kids: “I am beautiful.” Guiding the fourth graders through a weekly, 50-minute yoga and meditation class is Demetrius Napolitano, who draws on his experience gleaned from a childhood in foster care. “How is your mind, body and heart feeling?” Napolitano asked the students who live in this majority Latino and Black Manhattan community, one of New York City’s most under-resourced.
New York City, New York - Over 10,000 unionized private sector nurses in New York City could strike over the next two weeks. Nurses so far have overwhelmingly voted to strike (almost 99% as of December 22) with voting still open for some. NYSNA submitted an Official Strike Notice to eight hospitals, stating: “Today, Friday, December 30, we delivered a 10-day strike notice to management. Our strike begins January 9 at 6:00 a.m., if management does not choose to use the next 10 days to make serious and reasonable proposals that achieve a settlement.” Similar strike notices — which are required by law as part of the anti-labor legal framework of the U.S. — are likely to be served at other major NYC private sector hospitals in the coming days. Ominously, on December 31 the Presbyterian-Columbia bargaining unit announced that a tentative agreement (TA) had been reached, affecting approximately 3-4 thousand nurses.
New York City, New York - In this holiday-themed episode of All Things Co-op, Kevin speaks with Ellis Roberts of New York State of Pine, a worker cooperative selling Christmas trees in New York City. They discuss the exploitation of workers and huge markups for consumers from traditional Christmas tree companies, New York State of Pine’s democratic centralist model for decision-making, the question of scale, and the importance of working with and getting to know working-class people as communists and socialists. If you live in NYC and haven’t gotten your Christmas tree yet, visit NY State of Pine at 323 St. Johns Pl in Prospect Heights, 75 7th Ave in Park Slope, or Metropolitan Ave and Bedford Ave in Williamsburg! About our guest: Ellis Roberts came to New York from Pennsylvania to join the Occupy Wall Street encampment and never left.
At midnight on Dec. 10, part-time faculty at The New School and Parsons School of Design officially suspended their strike after a nearly seven-hour-long mediation session with the university administration ended with a tentative agreement (TA). The union’s bargaining committee, which is composed entirely of part-time faculty at The New School, unanimously chose to suspend the strike while they prepare to hold a ratification vote. Alex Robins, a union staff member and part-time instructor teaching at Parsons School of Design, told TRNN that approximately 300 (exhausted) part-time faculty members attended the final mediation session via Zoom. “The mood was absolutely ebullient,” he said. “I breathed for the first time in a month. They came into negotiations seemingly aiming to break the union.
New York City, New York - Last week, New York Mayor Eric Adams announced his new directive allowing cops to forcibly remove people from public areas and involuntarily detain them for transport to hospitals. The mayor’s guidance expands previous definitions which allowed cops and qualified professionals to involuntarily detain someone if the individual is deemed to be a threat. Now, the new recommendations allow cops to detain people if they deem they are “unable to meet their basic needs.” Adams claims this decision is best for public safety and individual well-being, but his decision was never about public safety — it’s about hiding the effects of austerity, cuts in social services, and the vast inequalities created by capitalism in one of the wealthiest cities in the world.
New York City, New York - 19 people have perished at Rikers Island in 2022, making this the deadliest year in the jail’s history. Rikers Island’s previous deadliest year was just last year, when 16 people died at the notorious pretrial detention center. NYC Mayor Eric Adams has rejected calls to close the facility, along with demands from advocates for a federal receivership. A federal receivership would give power to a court-appointed, nonpartisan expert to intervene in the situation on Rikers with wide latitude to change conditions in the jail. New York public defender Olayemi Olurin joins Rattling the Bars to discuss the human rights crisis on Rikers Island. Olayemi Olurin is a public defender and staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society and an analyst at the Law & Crime Network and The Hill’s Rising.