August 25, 2016
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – On this week’s episode of LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” airing Sunday night at 9 p.m. on AM970, PBA President Pat Lynch joins Teamsters Local 237 President Greg Floyd in calling on the City of New York for more cops at NYCHA developments; Ride Aid staffers talk about why working for the largest chain of drug stores on the East Coast is not what it used to be; Local 338 and Long Island Federation of Labor President John Durso talks about union opposition to developer Jerry Wolkoff on Long Island; and the NYS AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento and Governor Andrew Cuomo outline the choice facing workers in this November’s presidential elections.
While the de Blasio administration paints a rosy picture of falling crime stats across the city, PBA President Pat Lynch and Teamsters Local 237 President Greg Floyd say that the reality at NYCHA developments is markedly different because they’re aren’t enough cops on patrol.
“What happens now, is you have certain police officers assigned to neighborhood policing and the rest are — ‘chasing the radio’ — as we call it,” Lynch tells “Blue Collar Buzz.” “We don’t have the time to stop and speak [to the community]. If you have the proper staffing, you’ll have the entire police department acting as community police officers. You won’t have to give it a title — it’ll be a natural way of doing our job.”
“Residents shouldn’t have to fear when they close the door,” Floyd says. “Residents shouldn’t have to worry about children playing in the parks and playgrounds, or getting shot or getting stabbed — or even getting stuck by needles.”
Rite Aid is the largest drug store chain on the East Coast, and the third-largest drug store in the entire nation. Workers say that one of the best things about working for the chain has always been its attractive benefits packages — and it contributed mightily to high rates of retention. But now, those same workers tell “Blue Collar Buzz” that management isn’t bargaining in good faith and actively working to undermine what traditionally made their jobs so great.
“Basically, they are trying to take advantage of us,” Rite Aid worker Carlos Villaba says.
Six thousand Rite Aid workers represented by 1199SEIU fear that their benefits and pension packages are now vanishing before their eyes.
“One of the reasons I’m at Rite Aid is because of my benefits,” pharmacist Carmen Schafer. says. “I’ve had other people ask me if I wanted to join their team, but I know that my union benefits are so good, that I’ve stayed at Rite Aide despite some of the short-staffing that’s there as a pharmacist.”
Because Ride Aid is trying to remove new pharmacists and interns from the traditional bargaining unit, Schafer and Villalba says that many are concerned they will be excluded from national fund benefits. That’s why they and they’re co-workers are picketing Rite Aid.
Long Island Federation of Labor President John Durso has a reputation for being able to work through the thorniest of labor disputes. For instance, despite some stagnation, he fully expects a new stadium for the NY Cosmos to soon become a reality. Jerry Wolkoff’s Heartland Town Square proposal in Islip, however, is a different story. After reneging on an agreement to build union in Long Island City, Durso says, Wolkoff will meet with strong opposition on Long Island.
“Wolkoff is not a man of his word,” Durso tells “Blue Collar Buzz.” “We’re not going to allow it to happen on Long Island.”
Finally, this week saw the NYS AFL-CIO’s 33rd Constitutional Convention in NYC. LaborPress was there, and on this week’s episode of “Blue Collar Buzz” we’ll hear key addresses by both NYS AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento and Governor Andrew Cuomo.
LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” airs every Sunday night on AM970 The Answer from 9 to 10 p.m. This week’s episode, as well as every other episode of LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” is also available on demand at www.am970theanswer.com.