New York, NY – Rank and file workers opposed to the spread of so-called “open-shop” development and the citywide race-to-the-bottom, stood in solidarity with the city’s homeless population this week, while striking back against corporate efforts to dismiss working men and women as “union thugs.”
“Every man and woman that gets up at the crack of dawn, in every single weather condition — rain — snow — heat — cold; working in dangerous conditions every single day — they deserve to get proper pay, proper benefits and proper retirement,” #CountMeIn Campaign Director Mike Hellstrom told trade unionist rallying outside Related offices at 10 Columbus Square on Tuesday.
Every man and woman that gets up at the crack of dawn, in every single weather condition — rain — snow — heat — cold; working in dangerous conditions every single day — they deserve to get proper pay, proper benefits and proper retirement. –#CountMeIn Campaign Director Mike Hellstrom
The Building Trades workers collected more than 500 cans of food for the Bowery Mission. They also provided those in needs with gifts cards to get lunch at the local Whole Foods.
“One way or the other, whatever you brought will make it to someone’s table either tonight or tomorrow,” #CountMeIn organizer Bernard Callegari told demonstrators.
The #CountMeIn campaign has been holding regular demonstrations at 10th Avenue and 34th Street in front Hudson Yards, as well as10 Columbus Circle, since last fall — in response to Related’s announcement that it wants to enter Phase II of the massive Hudson Yards development using non-union labor.
Hellstrom blasted both city powerbrokers and Related founder Stephen Ross for contributing to both widespread homelessness and the deterioration of good middle class jobs.
“Related and the Stephen Rosses of the world look upon us and say, ‘Screw them; I got mine — they’re the problem,’” Hellstrom said.
In addition to urging trade unionists to donate cans of food for the needy, Hellstrom also implored more union workers to support their brothers and sisters rallying in the streets.
“If the masses show up, we shut shit down in this city,” he said. “Don’t let your co-workers off the hook — everybody’s got something do, everybody’s got someplace to go. There is no peace until we have a contract.”
IBEW Local 3 member Pete Blum urged younger trade unionists to understand the fight they have on their hands.
“I just want them to know the urgency of the situation we’re in, and that they need to get out and fight for their jobs — because it’s not if they’re going to take it away, it’s when they’re going to take it away,” Blum told LaborPress. “We’re in a war and we need to fight. And a lot of the young guys don’t seem to feel the urgency. But the urgency is there.”
Tuesday’s rally attracted a noisy contingent of local trade unionists, as well as at least one Local 499 Laborer from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Also in attendance — 81-year-old Bobby Frances, a trade unionist for almost half-century, from Secaucus, New Jersey.