New York - Sam Heyne, a young, newly hired HR worker, was stunned by the number of workers who were quitting and the frequent accounts she was hearing about toxic behavior from bosses. “It became abundantly clear that there needed to be a culture change, and the only way…was to start a union,” Heyne says. Before long, Heyne was caught up in the long-brewing organizing drive at the New York-based Guttmacher Institute, a prestigious research and advocacy arm for the reproductive rights movement. After months of strategizing, with Heyne working on the group’s internal communications, workers won an overwhelming victory in July 2022, 63-2, to join Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 153. The celebration didn’t last long; within two hours, Heyne was fired.
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 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.
It has long been established that people of color — and especially Black people — are disproportionately criminalized, prosecuted, and incarcerated by the criminal legal system. When it comes to arrests, charges, convictions, and sentences, at every step, Black people are treated much more harshly than white people. But even though this reality is not new, just how unequal the system is across New York is still surprising: In Manhattan — one of the wealthiest and least equal places in the country — courts convicted Black people of felonies and misdemeanors at a rate 21 times greater than that of white people over the past two decades. This disparity is the largest of any county in the state. This troubling statistic features prominently in a lawsuit filed recently by the New York Civil Liberties Union challenging the constitutionality of a ban on people with felony convictions serving on juries in Manhattan.
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.
New York - New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed a bill into law Wednesday that aims to crack down on stringent warehouse work quotas at companies like Amazon. The law, known as the Warehouse Worker Protection Act, requires distribution centers to disclose work speed data to their employees so they better understand their productivity rate and the company’s expectations. It also bars companies from firing workers because they failed to meet quotas that weren’t transparent or didn’t allow enough time for rest and bathroom breaks. The law applies to any company with a large distribution center in the state, but the most obvious target is Amazon. The Seattle-based online retail giant is the largest employer of warehouse employees in the country.
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.
New York City, New York - On Tuesday, December 13, workers at Theatre Row — a multi-venue theatre in New York City — submitted a unanimous card campaign to the board of their parent organization, Building for the Arts, demanding voluntary recognition of their new union. This union — Theatre Shop Union (TSU) — is an independent union and the first of its kind in the theatre industry. In a press release, TSU wrote: We, the workers of Theatre Row, are proud to announce our intent to organize a new, independent union: Theatre Shop Union (TSU). With one hundred percent support from workers eligible, the twenty-five members of TSU went to the Building for the Arts board on December 13th to demand voluntary recognition of our union. Regardless of the board’s decision, we are eager to meet them at the bargaining table to negotiate a contract that meets our demands.
New York City, New York - Four hundred rank-and-file organizers gathered November 19 in a New York City high school at the largest Troublemakers School yet. The day was part learning opportunity, part celebration of shared struggle. In the opening session, led by a Teamster and two educators, troublemakers roared with applause at the proclamation that a potential UPS strike next summer would cause “6 percent of GDP [gross domestic product] to stop moving” and booed the “customer service” mentality being pushed onto educators by school administrators. Then participants broke out into classrooms for workshops like New Organizing, Assertive Grievance Handling, and Race and Labor. Among the skills practiced were laying out step-by-step escalating campaigns that build capacity as you go; recognizing the qualities that make an issue ripe for organizing; and how to push co-workers to get more involved in the union, while also respecting their boundaries and complex personal and internal lives.
New York City, New York - The New School reached a tentative contract agreement with its part-time faculty this weekend, ending a strike that lasted nearly a month. A joint statement released by the faculty’s union, ACT-United Auto Workers Local 7902, and the New School on Saturday said two highlights of the five-year deal are pay raises and boosts to health care for the workers. Union leaders said they expect the agreement to be ratified by the group’s 2,400 members later this week — and said all classes and events would resume immediately. “Now, together, we can return to our mission of teaching, learning, creating and supporting our students,” the statement said. The agreement comes just in time for the final week of the university’s fall semester.
New York City, New York - Mayor Eric Adams' new plan to involuntarily hospitalize some mentally ill people living on New York City streets is facing its first legal battle. Advocates are arguing the plan is unconstitutional. Shannon O'Neill Fonseca was involuntarily hospitalized by NYPD officers in 2019 when her then-partner told 911 she was a danger to herself. "Some of the PTSD that I struggle the most with right now is from my hospitalizations," she said. "When I was discharged, I did not receive any type of support, there wasn't really an aftercare plan, it was so hard for me to submit any type of documentation and no one followed up with me." Fonseca has never been homeless herself but worries about the mayor's new policy directing police to forcibly hospitalize mentally ill homeless people who are deemed a danger to themselves or unable to meet their needs.