Jackie Lara describes coming to the Fulton Houses as “her best Christmas present.” She and her children moved out of a shelter into Fulton Houses, a public-housing development in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, just after New Years Eve in 2002. “My application [for public housing] came in after a year and a half of being in the shelter,” Lara says. “And I remember when they called me to come and see this apartment. I planted my seed here. This is my home.” Celines Mirandas is of the same mind. Her family has lived in the Chelsea-Elliott complex, about half a mile away, since 1975. “My mother is at an age where she gets disoriented a lot.
Buffalo, New York - As part of the Starbucks Workers United (SBWU) Bus Tour, Starbucks workers and volunteers in Buffalo, New York, demonstrated the power of the Starbucks unionization campaign in the face of corporate resistance. To bolster their efforts, dozens of Starbucks workers traveled to Buffalo on July 26, to spread information concerning the company’s egregious union busting and breaking of labor laws. The Bus Tour displayed working-class power in a united front for fair compensation and protection from Starbucks’ actions. Informational pickets were dispersed around Buffalo. Customers and passersby were asked if they had previously heard of Starbucks’ union busting and were given information on Starbucks’ unofficial policy toward union workers.
Inside a small taco stand located in the heart of the Coney Island amusement district, a small but vocal group of community members gathered over a platter of tacos al pastor, to discuss how a proposed casino would affect their lives. “They will push us out and push local business out,” Jenny Hernandez, 30, said at the event. She has lived in Coney Island since she immigrated with her family from Mexico when she was a child. To her, a casino would destroy everything that she loves about her neighborhood. “I love Coney Island and what I love the most about it is the diversity of nationalities that is here. I want it to stay that way and I want my kids to see all the nationalities.”
On a Tuesday night in mid-March, the streets of downtown Rochester were empty as the remnants of a nor’easter swirled through. But the fourth floor of the county office building was packed. Residents milled outside the chamber doors for close to an hour, then lined up inside for two more to address their county reps. Most were there to complain about one thing: their utility company. Utilities are rarely popular, but Rochester Gas & Electric has drawn a special furor in the past two years. Speaker after speaker slammed RG&E over astronomical bills that in many cases seemed to come out of nowhere.
It was May 1974 and the Massena Observer’s printing press was running overtime. Splashed across the front page were the results of a groundbreaking referendum. A columnist wrote that “no other news story has stirred the imagination” like this one: public power. Residents had voted two to one to bring their electric utility under public control. That would mean buying out the local grid from Niagara Mohawk, the power company then serving much of upstate. It took another seven years of legal battles and two more referendums before Massena flipped the switch to a new, city-owned utility. When it finally happened, in May 1981, utility bills dropped by a quarter.
On May 2, New York became the first US state to pass a major Green New Deal policy following four years of organizing by the Public Power NY coalition and allies. The Build Public Renewables Act (BPRA), now New York State law, empowers and directs the state’s public power provider – the New York Power Authority (NYPA) – to plan, build, and operate renewable energy projects across New York State. Organizers are now focusing on growing the movement for Public Power from coast to coast. Public Power NY was launched in 2019 by the Ecosocialist Working Group of the NY City’s Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).
A new bill would prevent New York state-based registered charities from funding illegal Israeli settlement activities in the occupied West Bank. Introduced by state Assembly member Zohran Mamdani, the bill is the first of its kind in targeting US-based not-for-profit organizations involved in the violent dispossession and expulsion of Palestinians from their land. Mamdani told The Electronic Intifada that representatives of human rights groups, including Jewish Voice for Peace, the Adalah Justice Project, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, came to his office “and provided us with evidence of the fact that there were a number of New York registered charities sending at least $60 million a year to Israeli settler organizations.”
Elmhurst, Queens, New York - Following a historic three-day strike, over 160 unionized resident doctors at Elmhurst Hospital, located in a largely immigrant community in Queens, New York, declared victory May 24. Their fight was for pay parity with their nonunionized Manhattan counterparts. In 2020, Elmhurst Hospital was the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City. The striking physicians are employed by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai but were assigned to Elmhurst Hospital, a New York City public hospital, and at lower pay than those working at Mount Sinai’s affluent Upper East Side location.
In October, the Washington, D.C., attorney general’s office announced the largest civil award in a housing discrimination case in U.S. history. The lawsuit was filed in 2020 against D.C. real estate firms DARO Realty, DARO Management Services and Infinity Real Estate, LLC, which oversaw investing for companies. A judge ruled that DARO would have to pay $10 million to settle a lawsuit brought by holders of Section 8 vouchers, a federally-funded payment system that allows low-income people to rent in the private market. What’s more, DARO had to dissolve its property management business and certain members of leadership who were named as defendants were permanently banned from owning property management businesses in D.C.
André Soleyn, 55, and two dozen of his fellow United Metro Energy Corp. workers never wanted to go on strike in the first place. After the workers voted to join Teamsters Local 553 in December 2018, the company dragged its feet in negotiating a fair contract for three years. Feeling like they were left with no choice, the workers decided to take collective action. “It was a last resort,” Soleyn said. Tuesday, April 18, marks the two-year anniversary of the strike. Yet, Soleyn and the rest of the striking United Metro workers see no end in sight as they enter the third year of their walkout, which has now become the nation’s longest current ongoing strike.
On Saturday, April 1, New York state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul failed to agree on a state budget. The governor proposed an extension until April 10, which was quickly passed by lawmakers to avoid a government shutdown — and then passed another extension, which expires Monday. These delays are reportedly because of disagreements over Hochul’s bail reform and controversial plans to create new housing. But another group is also watching the budget closely: home care workers, users and advocates, who pushed for and won a minimum wage increase for home care workers in the state budget in 2022, only to see those measures rolled back this year.
A New York hotel union has reached a deal with hotel owners and operators that will boost the wages of hospitality workers by $7.50 an hour, the largest increase in the union’s 100-year history. The agreement covers 7,000 members of the Hotel and Gaming Trades Council who work at 87 suburban hotels spanning from Princeton, N.J., to New York’s Albany region and Long Island. The five-year pact has already been ratified by the employers and is expected to be ratified by workers this month, according to union President Rich Maroko. The new contract doesn’t include New York City hotels, where union members are also represented by the Hotel and Gaming Trades Council and where wages are still at a premium compared with the suburbs.
CUNY Hunter College’s Brookdale Residence Hall is home to over 600 Hunter College students, where residents have a unique opportunity to foster community through social, educational, and cultural programs. It is organized by Resident Assistants, and a quick commute from New York City’s cultural hotspots and classes. Brookdale is unique in its affordability among CUNY housing, costing students less than $10,000 per academic year, but the dorm is currently in danger. On October 13, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayer Eric Adams publicized the creation of an “Education Hub” at Brookdale Campus without mentioning that creating this Hub would require the ultimate destruction of the dorms located there.
Lodi, an Italian-style fine dining cafe in Rockefeller Center, has what the New York Times calls “a captive audience” given its central location in a Manhattan tourist magnet. Workers at the restaurant say they’re a captive audience of another kind—for the anti-union diatribes of a highly paid consultant. They are demanding that the cafe improve working conditions, benefits, staffing, scheduling, and training—but the major sticking point is wages. Kitchen workers earn between $18 and $21 an hour, while cashiers earn $25, and there’s no discernible reason for the discrepancy.
New York City, New York - In a few days Austin Locke will walk back into the Queens, New York, Starbucks store he was fired from seven months ago. He’ll also get a wad of back pay, and money from civil penalties. Locke had a target on his back because he was involved in a union drive at the store, but his reinstatement didn’t come from the National Labor Relations Board. Instead, his case was taken up by the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP), under a city law passed in 2021 which makes unjust firings in fast food illegal. Two recent city laws protecting fast food workers, the 2017 Fair Workweek Law and the 2021 Just Cause law, have resulted in 230 investigations, resulting in nearly $27.1 million in combined fines and restitution for more than 20,100 workers, according to Michael Lanza of the DCWP.