Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fresh Direct votes 'No Union'

NEW YORK — FreshDirect workers voted against joining a union, but the United Food and Commercial Workers will renew its push to organize the online grocer in the new year, according to reports. Employees of the company, based here, had been courted by both UFCW Local 348S and Teamsters Local 805, but 80% of the 530 warehouse workers who voted over the weekend chose not to organize with either union, the reports said. The vote came shortly after the company asked workers to provide proof of citizenship, saying the grocer was the subject of an investigation by federal immigration officials. Neither the unions nor FreshDirect could be reached for comment yesterday.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Balducci's Infamous "Chanukah Ham"


Yesterday it was the worker who wasn't normally in the Meat Departments fault...Today Balducci's blames their employee in training program. If you haven't heard or seen this popular story picked up yesterday by the NY Daily News, Balducci's on 14th St. had this Chanukah Ham on display.

The article read
"A Balducci's official was so verklempt about the error he didn't want to speak on the record. He fessed up that "it was a mistake," blaming it on a stock clerk who normally doesn't work the meat department.. "
Today Balducci's came out with this apology on their website, noting they are reviewing their "employee training policy" the story was also picked up by the AP. It's no wonder that the employees at Balducci's are voting to Unionize on December 17th. The company continues to treat them with disrespect, as seen in this case when a Balducci's official quickly pushes the blame of a pre-made sign to a someone who "normally doesnt work in the meat department" Their slogan seems to be "When in doubt, Blame the worker" Gourmet grocery workers are constantly mistreated, whether it be in pay rate or ethically, they're viewed as a lower class person by the managment. is working to bring workers rights to the gourmet industry in Manhattan.

This simple corporate mistake by Balducci's is evidence enough to what Gourmet workers go through everyday, being blamed for mistakes they had nothing to do with and essentially having no rights in the workplace. If you'd like to help more workers like the ones at Balducci's please get involved by signing up here. Don't let Balducci's get away by passing blame on the people that make their company what it is, we need to come together in solidarity to show that corporations cannot walk all over the working class.

Check out our leaflet here, and if you happen to be by Balducci's this weekend please tell a worker that you support their campaign!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

25% of NYC construction jobs are 'off the books'


25% of NYC construction jobs are 'off the books'

The fiscal costs to taxpayers were $489 million in 2005 and are likely to reach $557 million in 2008, according to a report.

Buck Ennis

At least 50,000 New York City construction jobs, or 25% of the total, are part of the untaxed--and at times unsafe--underground economy, according to a new report from the Fiscal Policy Institute.

The study, the first comprehensive estimate of job numbers that elude the usual government data-gathering methods, is based on 2005 figures and probably understates the true count by as much as 15%, said James Parrott, author of the study and chief economist of the New York research group. The institute defines jobs as underground if they are misclassified as independent contractor work or consist of employment by contractors who work “off the books,’’ a segment that has boomed with the explosion of residential construction in recent years.

The fiscal costs of the underground sector were $489 million in 2005 and likely to reach $557 million in 2008, the study said. “Taxpayers are forced to pick up the tab for Social Security and the other payroll taxes that go unpaid when construction workers are hired off the books,” Mr. Parrott said. “And law-abiding employers are put at a real disadvantage, forced to bear many costs shifted to them from employers breaking the law.”

Costs fall into three categories: payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare and social insurance premiums covering workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance and disability insurance ($272 million in 2005); foregone income tax collections ($70 million); and the shifted cost of employee health care onto the workers themselves, taxpayers and other employers ($148 million).

In addition to the fiscal cost, the underground construction labor market puts workers at risk, the study said. Last year, 29 construction workers were killed on the job in New York City. Half of the deaths occurred among workers at very small construction firms and three-fourths of the workers were employed by non-union companies.

“It is surprising that (construction workers in the underground economy) is such a large number,” Mr. Parrott said. “It is a significant share of total construction activity in New York City. It’s puzzling that the problem has grown to this extent without a more concerted government response.”

The report called for better state and city enforcement of employment and tax laws and social insurance requirements. In addition, it said New York City and the state should require prevailing wages for all affordable housing contracts and any construction project benefiting from city and state funding, zoning or land action. The lack of prevailing wage standards has led to cutthroat competition and less-skilled and less productive workers, the report said.

But affordable housing developers criticized the idea of applying prevailing wage standards to affordable housing projects, saying it would raise the cost of such construction by 30% to 40% and greatly slow construction.

“I think it would be incredibly damaging,” says Ron Moelis, a principal at L&M Equity Participants, a major affordable housing developer. “Right now, the subsidy levels needed to build affordable housing or low-cost housing for lower- and moderate-income people are incredibly high. The city is currently putting not only land, but also millions of dollars, into affordable housing, and we are barely making a dent.”