Workers Rally to Demand Governor Cuomo Sign the SWEAT Bill
An estimated $1 billion is stolen from workers in NYS every year. But when workers stand up against wage theft, employers close up shop (only to reopen under a new name), transfer their assets and empty their bank accounts. By the time workers win in court or the Department of Labor, there is no money to collect. The SWEAT bill, A486/S2844 will stop this problem. It passed the Democratic-controlled state legislature earlier this year but Governor Cuomo has yet to sign the bill into law. Workers from restaurant, nail salon, laundry, construction, domestic, home care and car service industries, among others, say time is running out. We must demand Governor Cuomo sign this critical bill to give workers the tools to fight wage theft and hold their employers accountable to at least the minimum wage.
Author Jen Epstein, speaks with Carmen Hulbert, about her book, 'Don't Get Too Excited'.
The book is fabulous, and so funny. Jen speaks about her issues with OCD. So if you want to know Jen's feelings about Exotic Diseases, Electric Fences, and more, you have to read the book. But until than, listen to Jen talk about writing it.
This is where you can buy the book: https://bit.ly/2NnTYYW
"And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed." -John Steinbeck
Increasingly throughout this city is a growing army of middle and lower-income communities, building unity to fight the oppressors of capitalism. Last night I attended a meeting in Sunset Park, where residents are opposing Councilman Carlos Menchaca's decision to accept a rezoning plan, with conditions. Jamestown Properties, the owner of Industry City, has filed a rezoning plan. And under that plan, IC is requesting an additional holding of land, increasing its share of property to1.3 million square feet of new commercial and industrial space. Although, Menchaca has rebuked earlier plans indicating he would not approve the two hotels IC wanted to build. Nor would he accept the expanded high retail stores on the property. Instead, he is negotiating to get goodies from the developer, thinking it will serve the community.
The councilman wants a technical high school built on the property; he also wants IC to kick in money to allow residents to organize. These and other items would be part of a Community Benefits Agreement. The residents of Sunset Park are aware that these agreements can not be enforced and reject the plan. The community knows that IC is a profit-making business, and their only goal is to make money for its stockholders. In the past, Jamestown Properties has gotten rezoning approvals from other deals and then shortly after sold the properties at much higher rates. The Google purchase last year in Soho is one example.
Sunset Park is primarily an immigrant community made up of Hispanic and Asian residents, and these are the people most affected by a rezoning. So last night, the people began their plan to stop this rezoning. Groups from all over the city joined to help Sunset Park to build its case against the rezoning. One participant from the audience, a former community board member that has a reputation for disrupting meetings, stood up in resistance to outside groups telling their stories of rezoning in their community. He claimed it to be propaganda. Those hosting the event suggested that that the person could leave if he did not approve of the agenda, and he did with some theatrics.
Communities need to seek the help of other groups and grow this fight that is changing the makeup of New York City. Pastor Sam Cruz, the pastor of the Lutheran church on 4th avenue, where the meeting was held, spoke passionately about the morality of the rezoning plan. How is it that the Chairman of the City Council's Immigration Committee is caught in this struggle when 72% of the community are immigrants? We must all stand up to these capitalists that are destroying our city.
This plan must be shot down, and the only solution is for Councilman Menchaca to vote no for this rezoning. No rezoning, no compromise!
Listen to a trailer of our new show, Survival in a Capitalist City: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEMP2fBC8wE&feature=youtu.be
Again tonight, there was another meeting regarding the rezoning of Sunset Park's Waterfront. The first part of the meeting was filled with loads of praise for Industry City: Kumbayahs, and statements that made you think of Rodney King: "can we all JUST get along?".
And then, as time went on, the working class and immigrant community stepped forward to say what the rezoning will do for them. It's called DISPLACEMENT!
Yes, there was talk about what Industry City looked like before Jamestown came in. The hookers and drug dealers are gone, but that's what usually happens when Capitalists invest their money in depressed neighborhoods. We can talk about that another time.
72% of Sunset Park is made up of immigrants, mostly Chinese and Hispanic. Many of them are working two and three jobs to live in Sunset Park, and this rezoning will not make their lives any better. You hear a discussion about jobs; jobs that most of the immigrants will not get. The people that are in a secure place in their lives make it seem so easy, while the people struggling know better.
It is not that the people want to stop growth; they want to be able to afford to live in Sunset Park to enjoy the growth.
Councilman Menchaca is the Chairman of the Immigration Committee, and his offering to residents the legal services that the city provides to prevent eviction is not what they expect from him. Also, the Councilman's desire to bring in the Mayor to help with Housing will only exacerbate the situation more. We need low-income Housing in Sunset Park, not high-end developers. The Councilman has a difficult decision to make; many of the immigrant people look up to him, so there is only one decision he can make. Say No!
Let's listen to Jei Fong from Protect Sunset Park talk about the things that the people want.
Fight for NYCHA joins with others in a discussion about the Three-card Monte game our political leaders play on the public.
Communities are sick of the rezonings, and tensions are growing. With every rezoning so far, affordable housing has been promised, but instead, apartments are high-jacked with deceptive AMI ratings. Take Red Hook for example, where we are head-quartered; the AMI in Red Hook is $107,000. Why is it so high you ask? Because Red Hook is combined with Cobble Hill and Park Slope where the residents are more upscaled. So if affordable housing were offered here, most of the residents in the neighborhood would not be able to pay their rents.
Now we come to NYCHA. For years, our Federal Government, as well as the other levels of government, have let NYCHA rot. Mayor de Blasio wants to utilize the RAD system, which is a program Obama put in place to save Public Housing, or at least that is what he claimed. When you watch this video, you will see what it is really doing to Public Housing. Collectively, this group believes that Council members have too much power. The communities belong to the people, not Council Members nor developers.
And when you are done watching our video, please check out this story from City Limits: http://bit.ly/2mTp5lC Please subscribe to our channel. Thank you!
It is no secret that NYC has intentionally let NYCHA buildings rot. The Intentional Decay of NYCHA, why, because if the decay is so terrible, the city would be forced to look for financial help somewhere else. The Federal Government has been cutting back funding for years, and the State Government too. So where does the city go for help? You got it! They go to developers.
In today's world, our trusted governments cannot be trusted as in the past. Then again, we should never have trusted government. And that is why the answer to fixing NYCHA problems is YOU! Yes, you, the public. Since our leaders are unable to find the door, we must fix problems ourselves. That's where Louis Flores comes in. Louis has been fighting battles for years, going back to trying to save Saint Vincents Hospital. He now sets his eyes on helping those that live in NYCHA Housing. The city has plans to demolition two building that is part of the Robert Fulton Houses, in Chelsea. Those buildings would be replaced with three taller buildings, and then the buildings would be managed by developers under the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD).
RAD is something Obama signed into law to help protect tenants of Public Housing, but it ain't so. When buildings are converted into the RAD system, building rules change, and a higher rate of people seem to be evicted, 10% higher in some places, rents also rise. In the case of the Robert Fulton Houses, 70% of the buildings would become market-rate apartments. Actions like this will destroy Public Housing as we know it. And the public must stop it. Please watch our video to see how Louis is approaching the situation.
Recently, we have seen citizen struggles in Puerto Rico, Paris, Hong Kong, and Britain over the actions of governments overstepping the boundaries of government rule. In this country, we struggle against Unwanted Wars, Affordable Housing, Homelessness, and Climate Change issues and more. These have been mainly capitalist struggles, where the rich are forcing officials to change regulations in exchange for goodies, like schools, parks, and fancy urban centers. All of it is helping to create more and more gentrification that pushes low and middle-class people from their homes.
We have yet to take to the streets like those mentioned above, but that might not be for long. Last night, I witnessed residents of Sunset Park, Brooklyn, shout down City Councilman, Carlos Menchaca, and force him out of a meeting he was presenting on rezoning. Menchaca was explaining his position on rezoning Sunset Park's Industry City when people started to chant no rezoning, no compromise, over and over again. After more than an hour of repeated interruptions, the councilman put the mic down and left.
Like so many other communities, Sunset Park is facing a rezoning that will significantly impact the large immigrant community. 72% of Sunset Park is made up of immigrants from Latin, and Asian countries. And this rezoning will entitle Industry City to changes that will impact all of the low and middle-class residents, as it has in many other communities. So these residents are fighting back.
Here is the entire meeting plus a rally outside:
I'm sitting here trying to plan the issues I want to address in my media properties. There are videos to be shot, and edited, and posted. There are web pages to be written, Facebook pages, Twitter posts, not to mention Instagram post to be written.
For the past several years, my focus has been on housing. The urbanization of our cities has given rise to gentrification. That has put many families into shelters or forced many others into the streets. The United States has more than 500,000 homeless people living on the streets or in shelters. New York City has 70,000 homeless, with 23,000 children leaving homeless shelters for school every day. How can that happen in the wealthiest country in the world?
Lately, my focus has also been moving to climate change. How can it not, when the United Nations delivers a report about increases in temperature, Land Use, and Sea-Level changes that will impact food production around the world. Ice sheets are melting in Greenland; increasing sea-levels by 7 meters, or 23 feet. That fact alone will put Miami Beach, and parts of Brooklyn underwater.
Whether it's Housing or Climate Change: the government is not doing enough to change the current situation.
Yes, some laws have passed to ease the burdens on renters, but nothing to stem displacement by developers. Developers receive tax breaks for building affordable apartments, but there is no enforcement to guarantee those apartments. Most of the time, those apartments are still too costly for current residents of the neighborhood, and more and more people are forced into shelters. Instead of building affordable homes, or maintaining NYCHA, the city of New York builds homeless shelters. And to further the problem, NYCHA buildings are being given to developers to manage, which only enriches the developers and washers the city's hands of the poor. In the case of NYCHA buildings like the Robert Fulton Houses, the city plans to apply for the Rental Assistance Demonstration program (RAD), and then tear down two buildings and replace them with three taller buildings. Under RAD, those buildings would then be rented at a 70% market rate & 30% public housing rate. What are we doing to Public Housing? Oh yeah, new jails! That's Public Housing, isn't it?
And then there is our federal government that refuses to believe in Climate Change. Look outside your freaking windows, jerks!
The President takes money from FEMA right before hurricane season starts to build his border wall. Where are their heads? The federal government should be worrying about how they will replace the lost revenue when Florida is underwater in a few years. Mayor DumBlasio talks about increasing the size of Manhattan to alleviate flooding, but what about Red Hook and other low-level parts of the city?
Let's take a whole bunch of money and throw it at the Defense Department. We can blow up the entire middle east; kill millions of people, but let's not do anything constructive for our citizens. We will make lots more money for the shareholders of the defense companies, and screw everyone else, especially, those brown-skinned immigrants.
All of my rants points to the lack of interest from our governments. Politicians run around giving speeches and promising to change things, but never say no to rezoning or force issues that help the community. Few officials in government express interest in stopping the wars. They are too interested in the jobs they expect to get for their community. Create some Green jobs in place of those war toys instead.
It comes down to us, the average citizen, to make things happen. We need, we must, get involved and demand that officials do what is right for us; not donors. We must have grass-root movements to deal with Climate Change. We can not wait any longer for the government. Knock on your neighbor's door and begin forming committees to deal with the issues that impact you and your families. Don't complain if you're not willing to change what is wrong with this country. Your children need you to care.
With dozens of people chanting, "Which side are you on," City Councilman, Carlos Menchaca, accepts thousands of signatures from the community demanding that he says no, to the request from Industry City to rezone.
While the pressure from the community increases, Menchaca, refuses to answer the question, "Which side are you on"?
Sunset Park is a community of immigrants, and the community knows what had happened to immigrants in other neighborhoods when rezoning occurred.
Carlos Menchaca is not just the City Councilman of the district, but he is also, the chairman of the Immigration Committee. So he risks his reputation of being a nice guy if he votes yes to the rezoning request; as well as the lives of the immigrant population in Sunset Park.