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Recent Activities: New York

[Photo by Arieh Lebowitz]
Dec. 6th: Rabbinical student Ben Greenberg gives a Hanukkah message of solidarity to cafeteria workers on strike at New York Life near Manhattan's Madison Square Park; fellow rabbinical student, Steven Exler, joined United Hebrew Trades-New York JLC Coordinator Carolyn De Paolo, PEF member Charles Davis and PSC/CUNY member Jim Perlstein at a simultaneous picket at 55 Water Street in New York's Wall Street District. 30 cafeteria workers, members of Local 100, UNITE HERE, are entering their fourth week on strike against Aramark, trying to secure a renewal of their contract, with job, wage and benefit, and pension security. Many of the cafeteria workers have been working without contracts for upwards of a year and a half.

[Photo by Zita Allen]
United Hebrew Trades – New York JLC joined the Retail Action Project (RAP), an effort of the Good Old Lower East Side [GOLES] community organization, community and religious leaders, elected officials including Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer – speaking - and former workers on July 13th to expose widespread violations of minimum wage laws, abusive treatment and unhealthy working conditions at the retail chain Yellow Rat Bastard (YRB) and seven affiliated stores in Manhattan’s NOHO/SOHO neighborhood. Also at the press conference outside the YRB SOHO store were NYC Assembly Member Sylvia Friedman and NYS Senator Martin Connor, as well as representatives from U.S. Congress Member Nydia Velasquez, NYC City Council Member Rosie Mendez and NYC City Council Member Alan Gerson.

In March, following a request by the New York State Labor-Religion Coalition to support efforts to defeat the proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) legislation that was being debated in Congress, the United Hebrew Trades - New York JLC reached out to over 600 rabbis in key Congressional Districts, urging them to contact their representatives, indicating their opposition.

Also in March, UHT Coordinator Carolyn De Paolo reported, the UHT participated in the annual commemoration of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, at the site of the fire, just east of Washington Square Park, on March 24th .

UHT reached out to Mayor Bloomberg in March to voice our concern that directors and assistant directors in day care facilities funded by New York City had not had a raise in five years. Although the Mayor had publicly stated that he would tie raises to productivity gains, his representatives have refused to sign a contract with the Council of Supervisors and Administrators [Local 1, AFSA] even after they proposed changes which should lead to productivity gains. We can’t claim credit, but the CSA News reported that “on April 21, CSA represent-atives met with the city’s Office of Labor Relations and the Day Care Council and came to an agreement regarding CSA’s 450 Day Care Directors and Assistant Directors.”

On April 19th, over three dozen people celebrated Passover at the United Hebrew Trades - New York JLC’s first Labor Seder. UHT Coordinator Carolyn De Paolo reported that among those who attended were representatives from the American Federation of Musicians, UNITE HERE, the Communications Workers of America, AFSCME, the New York City Jewish Community Relations Council, the Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, the IBEW, and Meretz USA.

Since August, the UHT as well as national JLC have been working with students of the Graduate Students Organizing Committee of New York University, affiliated with Local 2110 of the UAW. Even though the graduate workers -- research and teaching assistants -- had secured union recognition a few of years ago, the school’s administration appealed to the National Labor Relations Board, challenging their status as workers. The NLRB decided that they were not workers, and as such not entitled to union representation. GSOC/Local 2110 members have been on strike since November 9th, demanding that the university enter into collective bargaining with the local, and negotiate a fair contract.