MAY DAY! + Meet the Labor Branch

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Local News


  • Staten Island and southern Brooklyn State Assembly Member Nicole Malliotakis has formally entered the 2017 mayoral race as a Republican. Of the existing GOP field, she is the only candidate to have been elected to public office.
  • The first IDC challenger for the 2018 elections looks to be Robert Jackson, who will challenge Marisol Alcantara again after losing narrowly in the three-way primary last year. With the rematch likely to be a head to head race, Jackson could pick up support in the Upper West Side district.
  • Thomas López-Pierre is running for city council in the 7th district against CM Mark Levine on an openly anti-semitic platform of keeping “greedy Jewish landlords” from kicking Blacks and Latinos out of their neighborhoods.
  • Eric Gonzalez, the acting District Attorney of Brooklyn officially announced that he’s running for a full term in office. It was revealed last month that Gonzalez improperly received a rent reduction meant for low-income seniors.

Interview: Labor Branch, B&H, and May Day

This week’s newsletter features an interview with Micah Landau, a member of the DSA Labor Branch and organizing committee of the Citywide Strike and Labor Solidarity Working Group. Micah and his comrades have been organizing actions in solidarity with workers around the city for May Day and beyond.

DSA Electoral News: What is going on at B&H, and why has the Labor Branch chosen to support this struggle? Tell us a bit about how the collaboration started and where you see it going.

Micah Landau: In 2015, more than 300 predominantly Latino warehouse workers at the B&H Photo warehouses in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Bushwick unionized with the Steelworkers Union due to poor working conditions. Ever since then, they’ve been trying to reach their first contract, but management’s response has been to threaten to shut down the warehouses and move their jobs to New Jersey 75 miles away. This is called a “runaway shop” and is effectively a mass firing, as they know the newly unionized workers will not follow the operation to southern NJ. Management is trying to justify the move legally by claiming that it will save them money, but United Steelworkers has put in complaints with the NLRB.

[NYCDSA’s Strike and Labor Solidarity Working Group] got involved with this campaign because our working group is the “action wing” of the Labor Branch, but you can be a member of any branch in NYC DSA and join us. We’ve been organizing weekly pickets outside of the Midtown B&H store with the amazing Laundry Workers Center on Fridays from 12-2PM and Sundays from 3-5PM throughout the spring. We have become the main source of community support for the Laundry Workers Center and the B&H campaign, and we plan to support them indefinitely.

B&H workers are planning to go on a surprise strike today (May 1), which will amp up this campaign considerably. We are hoping that this campaign makes waves politically — Council Member Ben Kallos joined our last picket line — and we need to get other legislators, the mayor, and the governor to unite behind this cause. We are also hoping this campaign will serve as a tool to help DSA members gain experience as labor organizers and develop meaningful alliances with community groups like the Laundry Workers Center.

Today (May 1) we are holding a rally at 10AM to support the strike outside of the store on 34th Street and 9th Avenue. Please come out today and check out this video that we just released about our work at B&H. Also - on Thursday May 4 we are holding a fundraiser screening of Harlan County USA to help build a solidarity fund for B&H workers.

DSAEN: What other local issues or campaigns are the Labor Branch and Strike Solidarity Working Group supporting?

ML: In addition to B&H and larger May Day organizing, the Strike and Labor Solidarity Working Group was involved with the International Transport Workers’ Federation regarding a Madagascan dockworkers dispute in the Levi’s supply chain. After May Day, we are hoping to support the struggle of Tom Cat Bakery workers, who are being threatened to produce citizenship status to their employer in order to retain their jobs. The Labor Branch has also been working around the issue of Right to Work legislation, setting up a panel earlier this month and developing workplace education tools for DSA members to talk to their coworkers about politics, socialism, and potentially joining DSA.

DSAEN: Are there any other specific workplace strikes or labor-related struggles in NYC that our readers should know about?

ML: Off the top of my head, Local 3 IBEW is on a picket line for Spectrum cable workers. Stardust Diner workers are fighting for a contract. Right to work legislation is possible on the national and even state level. Whenever you see a picket line: stop, take a flyer, walk the line, and show them your DSA button. Most people will be happy for the support.

DSAEN: What are you doing on May Day?

ML: The B&H rally starts at 10AM. I’m excited about this because it is an action that stands in solidarity with both workers and immigrants, which really encapsulates the way May Day has been reclaimed in the US since 2006 as not just International Workers’ Day but a day to fight for immigrant rights. The other official DSA event on May Day will be our contingent at the rally and march from Union Square to Foley Square, which is being organized by local labor groups and immigrant rights groups like Make the Road. At 4PM, DSA will meet in front of the Barnes and Noble on 17th Street and will be holding red balloons. The march should begin down to Foley Square at 5PM.

More information about NYCDSA and May Day are here.

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