Friday, August 29, 2008

Happy Labor Day To Everyone Who Works For A Living.

Happy Labor Day to everyone.

The Labor movement is alive and well here in the Hudson Valley in 2008. More people are feeling the need to have a union in their workplace. The weak economy and high bills have left a bad aftertaste. Workers have been left as an afterthought in too many businesses. In order to gain strength, more people realize they must band together, it's that simple. It happens in every walk of life. People bond with those in like situations. We are at a turning point and a time when the workers are turning to Labor unions again because it is now apparent that no one has been in their corner or looking out for their interest. The blunt realization is that no one ever really will, the people must do it themselves. Here are some videos to watch and enjoy over your weekend.

Pass The Employee Free Choice Act

The Employee Free Choice Act is a Law that pertains to the rights of Americans to organize into unions. All Americans have that right already BUT there are some unjust actions that occur during the process. After some companies become aware that their employees have decided to unionize, things can get a little sneaky and nasty. Believe it or not, some companies are against their employees having a union and a voice at work. The EFCA would practically eliminate the possibility of unjust actions by companies that WILL ATTEMPT hinder or stop the employees from having a union at all costs.

Now, employees sign cards to authorize the union to represent them, the union brings the cards to the National Labor Relations Board and they notify the company and schedule a hearing to see if enough employees want to form a union. At the hearing, the company will usually fight against the employees having an election and challenge the validity of the cards. Or that some employees shouldn't be in the group.

After that the Labor Board will set a date for an election. IT IS THE TIME BETWEEN THAT DATE AND THE ELECTION DATE that created the need for the EFCA. Captive Meetings, Big Shot Lawyers, Lies, Threats,Promises, Video Tapes, Handouts, Subliminal Messages in Paychecks and maybe even a couple of firings will occur - to chill the employees organizing. Take note - MONEY IS NO OBJECT.

Case in point locally is Benedictine Hospital. Watch the theater play out. I could script it all out for you - maybe I will.

The EFCA says if enough people sign the cards saying they want the union to represent them and the cards are shown and presented to the company, the company must recognize and bargain with the employees as a group. No more one month long, marathon,last ditch, all out effort to stop the employees from organizing.

It is time for Change. The American Workers need to be able to advance like everyone else in this whole economic system. Congress needs to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Suspen(d)se Is Killing Us

It has been reported that Kingston DPW Superintendent Steve Gorsline was suspended in regard to the sexual harassment probe going on in his department. At least that is what some Council people said they were told by Council President James Noble.

Now the Mayor has said that Gorsline is still working. Things are looking a little funny in the city of Kingston lately. It seems like all of the sudden the Common Council is in the dark about some things. Some on the Council are not even sure if Gorsline has a contract or not. ( Don't they vote on that contract like they do the CSEA's contract?)

To add to the fire, Gorsline just cashed in some major money for compensation owed and no one seems to know where the documents are to back it all up.

I can't believe that some on this council, who always are so knowledgeable and informed, are not even in the loop on this. Especially a couple council people who were so adamant that they knew what was happening while accusing city workers of talking on their phones, or explaining why we need to install GPS in the city workers vehicles or why the training the DPW workers asked for was just "political" or even the ones who rallied to stop that Godawful stint work - even they, don't seem to know what's going on.

There was once a childrens book called, "Find Waldo" - we should buy each council person a copy of it. It will be good practice to help them find their management employees.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tommy Dee and the High Priced Lawyers Lose

Good News for the Benedictine Nurses. The Labor Board has ruled that they can have an election and vote FOR THE UNION!

Benedictine CEO Tommy Dee and his band of high priced lawyers tried to BLOCK the nurses from even having a chance to vote. They filed complaints with the labor board AGAINST THE NURSES to stop them from having a union. WHY is this so important that the hospital is willing to pay what will surely be at least a $100,000 in legal bills?? Lexington Avenue, New York Lawyers don't come cheap. Tommy Dee makes it sound like they are doing it all to PROTECT the nurses best interests. When else have they spent that amount of money, so quickly, for the nurses "benefit" ? To "protect" them?

Next comes the anti-union propaganda and mandatory meetings the hospital will hold to "explain" why the union is bad. Complete with handouts and videos too! All BS. All from Tommy Dee, the man who makes 100k plus and some NYC Lawyers, who make Tommy look poor. Oh yea, they are REALLY doing this FOR the nurses. They care now. Really. I hear the break rooms already have been supplied with anti union flyers. I also hear the nurses are determined, growing and on a mission. All they need to do is get by the Lexington Avenue scare tactics.

Thinking about it as a business man. Tommy, you should be fired. If the nurses want to join a union and it is not in their best interest - it must be bad for them, so it must make them weaker. Using your logic, wouldn't that BE BETTER FOR THE HOSPITAL?? How do you justify spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to stop that?

Unless it is not true. Unless it will really make them a little bit STRONGER and also force you to make fair decisions.

Tommy, the nurses don't need you as a daddy - to guide them in the right direction. They are adults who know what is best. Most have already raised children. They are smart people. They just want a voice at work, a real one. One that will be paid attention to and heard. That's all.

What are you scared about Tommy? Being fair? Having a balance? You say that "it is not in the best interest for the nurses to have a union." Come on out in public and explain that in detail. A good 45 minute conversation and you would be turned to mud - and you know it. You are wrong and doing this to keep the nurses voiceless, weak and unorganized.

Benedictine Hospital - I hope your contributors know they pay the legal bills here to fight their own nurses.

The community is watching this closely. Welcome to the court of public opinion.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Benedictine Hospital Against Their Own Nurses

The Nurses at Benedictine Hospital want to band together, speak as one and become part of the NYS Nurses Association. Benedictine Hospital brass are so furious that they have hired a NYC law firm for a fee of hundreds of dollars an hour, to help scare the nurses out of thinking clearly.

The first move is always to attempt to get the issue wrapped up in court and challenge who can vote. If that doesn't work out they will move to the scare tactics and threats and the best part yet, telling the future. They will tell the nurses everything that will happen if they join together and speak as one. And the way they will tell it, it will all be bad. That's why they are going to spend THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS of the "poor hospitals" money to - to what??? - save the nurses FROM THEMSELVES?

Tom Dee the Hospital CEO said that "Benedictine Hospital very firmly believes that a union does not serve the best interests of our nurses or the community of Kingston,". Is that right Tom?

So now you are going to spend hospital funds to hire a high priced law firm and PAY THE BILL to help the nurses to make the right decision? Because YOU AND THE HOSPITAL KNOW that they would be worse off if they banded together and you want to save them. Because you want them to stay economically strong like they are now and happy with how things are right now, with you in charge and them with no say in anything.

Does the Hospital like the UNION HEALTH PLANS in the area? You know, the ones that pay their bills. It takes a union to have those, especially the ones that cover the whole family. They pay your big salary too. Let the people have their chance to be represented. If you are fair, it will work out great for the hospital and the nurses. Don't fight your own employees, they're adults, let them make their decision. Remember - This is a working class area.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Stint Shift Is What's Ailing Kingston: Public Enemy Number One

Just read the Editorial in the Freeman about 'Stint" work for City of Kingston trash collectors. That is a great concept, eight hours pay for eight hours work, isn't it? The unions have promoted that since time, despite what propaganda specialists and the uneducated people will tell you. The stint subject seems very simple when you look at it on the surface - you work, we pay you. Who could argue with that?

There is a hidden point in all of this that people outside of the parties involved ( and maybe even one in ) may not be aware of to even ask about. How did this happen in the first place? Why stint work for trash collection?

A clause like this in a contract happened for a reason. There was an inconvenience someplace on someone's part and it was brought to the bargaining table. I bet it would have to do with angry businessmen and commuters getting held up behind the &%$#@(& garbage truck and complaining to City Hall. So they made a deal with the workers - you start before dawn, no breaks ,no lunch, work straight through and go home. It made sense. It kept the trash trucks out of everyone's way during prime time. We get the trash picked up, it's out of everybody's way, and they get 8 hours pay for getting it done.

Now after operating like this for years, the Mayor calls them BACK FROM HOME - AFTER WORK - ONCE - and cries because he had to pay them overtime. Of course he cries publicly. He says that now the whole policy is bad. Anyone who knows recent history can see it is just a chance for the Mayor to jab at and try to discredit the CSEA by claiming that they don't want to work a full day.

It has 99% to do with jabbing CSEA and 1% to do with getting the short end of the stint stick once.

I have a great solution for any elected official who thinks that the trash collectors are getting away with murder in this stint arrangement. You should get up at dawn, get on that truck, eat your lunch in it and do it for 8 hours. Then come back and tell us how easy they have it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Orange, Ulster and Sullivan Unemployment Skyrockets

The number of unemployed people in Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties has surpassed the 5% mark, with Sullivan approaching 6%. Ulsters figure of 5.5% is the highest unemployment rate since 1995. How can that be when we have all of these boards spending money and "creating jobs" for us through these various agencies? It's quite simple, the issue of really creating any jobs has long been on the back burner. Go to any agency meeeting and listen to a discussion about upcoming development or hear a developer who wants millions from our public coffers.or cheap financing or tax breaks....and you will hear NOTHING about creating jobs. The least amount of talk is about any possible jobs. Someone may say the word "job', but no one will ever insist on or give too many details. No one ever has to come back with their payroll records to show how the investment paid off. Even when we pump millions of public dollars into a project, we don't get jobs. We get crap low paid mostly part-time jobs and buildings that out of towners build at night on the cheap. Nobody wants to look at that end.

Lance Matteson, President of Ulster County Development Corp. said, " We are glad for any kind of job growth," but "what we need is the kind of private sector job growth that can drive the economy."

He says that now and talks a good game. But when he and the Ulster IDA board members should have created jobs, they lost them. They could have created good paying local construction jobs for their $125 million at Woodland Ponds in New Paltz. They could have insisted they create good paying permanent jobs with health plans. They could have demanded that. They didn't. It would be too much to ask. Treated as something that would get in the way of progress. A bother. Trivial. Stupid. Annoying.

Now transient workers from Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida and Georgia are invading the area. They know no rules. They have many construction jobs created by OUR industrial development boards. The ones that are supposed to promote the economic well being of the residents of the county.

You reap what you sow. We need to start creating jobs for local people. That will more than likely help trim the Ulster county unemployment rate.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mayor Better Think This One Out

City of Kingston Mayor James Sottile has asked the common council to give him their opinions on ending what is called a "stint" workday for the city sanitation workers. The "stint" workday works like this: They don't take breaks or lunch, start real early in the morning and hustle off the streets as fast as they can. The reward for the workers is simple: They get to go home after they finish their route and make sure the trucks are taken care of. The reward for the city is: The giant sanitation trucks are not in every other businessmans way during the day- blocking the streets- and making stops at every address. This "stint" arrangement is not uncommon and makes all the sense in the world. Not every person will take on that job and this city has good workers on that stint shift too. The city knows that. Leave a win-win situation alone.

Just because the City decided to call workers back from their homes, after their "stint", - ONCE, that is no reason to change the entire relationship between the huge sanitation trucks and the average pressed for time citizen or businessman.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Central Hudson Raises Rates While Helping to Lower Job Prospects

Local Central Hudson rate payers just got the good news. Their electric bills are going to increase to the highest cost ever. It just makes it hurt that much more - knowing that this makes twice - that our friendly, neighborhood, utility company has affected our collective local pocketbook. Now is a slow economic time, with high unemployment in the local construction trades. The jobs that would come with the Central Hudson project were welcome news. A multi million dollar hub would be built. The result, however, is not pretty. They have contractors on the site who have imported lower wage workers from out of state.

This includes a local businessmen who is also importing workers for lower wages. This makes the person with the high Ulster County monthly rent and HIGHER ELECTRIC BILL unable to compete for the jobs in their own town. Many of the jobs available on their new multi million dollar building were filled with out of state workers. Central Hudson didn't make sure the new hub they are building in the Town of Ulster was even creating JOBS FOR THEIR OWN CUSTOMERS.

Perfect timing for raising the rates. With slow economic times, I would venture to say that the amount of people requesting relief from their heat and utility bills will increase this winter. Actions like this one compound and spread like a plague. Buy Local is not just a commercial spot to buy on the radio. It means something in the real working peoples world. Central Hudson you set a poor example in regard to the "Hire Local" theme.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Developer Louis Cappelli Promises Prevailing Wages and Good Permanent Jobs In Return For State and IDA Funding

In his partnership with Empire Resorts, Louis Cappelli is building a $1 billion "Entertainment City" in Sullivan Countys Monticello. He is moving Empire's harness track and racino from the old Monticello Raceway and present "Racino" to a new 750-room hotel and convention center at the site of the former Concord Hotel. There are also plans for a $392 million luxury hotel and spa, a clubhouse and redesign of the Monster and International golf courses. Donald Trump is close to signing on to help with the golf courses and some of the project.

After receiving an unprecedented funding package from the state, the Westchester developer, Cappelli now wants every tax break that Sullivan County offers for his $1.4 billion plan to redevelop those Concord properties.

This project will mean millions of more dollars into Sullivan County and NYS coffers through sales and income tax. The project will generate significantly more property tax even with IDA benefits, and create 2,000 permanent jobs and more than 1,300 construction jobs.

Cappelli has promised up front to hire local construction workers at prevailing wages and to create good paying full time jobs. Everyone is excited about the project and the economic benefits it will bring to a community that has suffered from economic decline for so many years.

Cappelli is seeking an estimated $40.3 million in sales and mortgage tax relief and millions more in property tax breaks through the Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency.

This is the type of project and developer that should get every penny of IDA and State tax money that they can give him. He will be advancing the economic well being of the local residents and the money will be well spent.

Are you paying attention Ulster County IDA Board members??

Friday, August 8, 2008

Central Hudson Builds Multi-Million Dollar Hub, Lets Contractors Import Workers

Central Hudson Gas & Electric Company is in the process of building a multi-million dollar hub and office in the Town of Ulster. They are renovating the former Miron Building and workers from Pennsylvania and Connecticut are making out like bandits! They have gained many jobs by simply undercutting the local peoples wages. The worst part is that a local contractor, Rondout Electric of Poughkeepsie is importing these workers from out of state. They arrive packed in vans and trucks every day, while your neighbors and fellow rate payers are unemployed. Too bad NYS can't track them down and at least make sure they collect some taxes. How awful that a local business man can't hire all local people. Central Hudson obviously condones it, it's right in their face. No wonder there are financial problems in this state. A deadly combination of local unemployment and imported transients ducking taxes -

By the way, Central Hudson has just proposed to raise their rates through the roof. First, put your customers on unemployment and then raise the rates - good business move. Shame on Central Hudson. By the way, I hear they hate it when you staple your payment check to your bill.

Welcome to Hudson Valley Labor Report

August 8, 2008 - Welcome to the inaugural day of Hudson Valley Labor Report. Finally, a place for working people of the Hudson Valley New York to discuss and analyze issues, events and decisions that affect their ability to raise and support their families with dignity. Too many times those decisions, actions and events hurt those families and were left unchallenged and unexposed. Today is the day that all comes to an end.

Too many times, the middleclass workers of the Hudson Valley been ignored or given poor, nonsensical reasons for adverse decisions made by those in powerful positions or public office. It is time to bring out the good and the bad. It's time to tell it like it is. Too many people fit the description of "middleclass worker" to allow bad decisions to go unchecked.

Hang on, it could get bumpy.