On Labor Day: when a time when it is popular to blame union contracts for the economy problems, it is instructive to remember how it was. Labor Day Born as an Apology to American Labor.

 

WPCNR NEWS AND COMMENT. By John F. Bailey. September 1, 2014:

It is Labor Day 2014.

A time when the White Plains Board of Education continues its labor dispute with the White Plains Teachers Association (in its third year without a contract). The Board continues to insist stubbornly on cutting the rate of step raise increases and longevity increases: a demand that the union has rejected three times.

Teachers throughout the state continue to be under fire for not teaching effectively. Teacher union leaders, protest against calls for change and possible elimination of tenure. Yet corporate and bureaucratic advocates of the Common Core are not held accountable for the inexplicable test results that show 70% of New York State students are unable to read or write English entering high school. It cannot be all the teachers’ faults. Perhaps it is a lousy assessment test. Don’t our state senators and assemblypersons and hands-on governor want to find out what the problem is?

It is a time when the City of White Plains continues its standoff with the White Plains Police Benevolent Association, continuing its stand to keep pay increases at 2%, and stubbornly clinging to the 8-hour work shift for patrols despite its almost doubling of police overtime costs while continuing to demand all city unions pay more of their medical benefits. This is particularly hypocritical on the part of the city because pay increases for City Commissioners and managers pay for the increased share of medical benefits city commissioners and managers have had to pay. Police sources say they expect to start negotiating with the city again shortly over the work rules at least and the other city unions stymied by city threat of layoffs if they do not cowtow have to get up and muster some back bone.

The city has plenty of money as sales tax receipts are at an all-time high. The property taxes appear to stabilize (unless of course the patriotic commercial property owners file for a new round of tax refunds based on the lean times of the last four years, which would lower the assessment roll.)

Public enmity against unions is popular, especially the practice of jacking pensions by getting more overtime in the years just before retirements. I say it’s time to look at the city leadership and the state leadership and hold them accountable. They are the leaders and they do not lead.

No politicians, though talk about the offensive practice  of decrying  union pensions, while accepting political jobs after a politician leaves office  or is defeated, that politicians and political parasites have to get waivers for to retain their pensions, and they are routinely able to acquire such waivers to get 6-figure jobs in the private or public sector and still collect their pension. How about stopping that very nice perk?

However, when you look back at the history of the labor movement. Workers have always had to fight and die to make progress. Because management is not fair, equitable, or humane.Management works for themselves, always.

Labor Day first made its appearance when low wages and long hours were protested against in the mid-nineteenth century during the American Industrial Revolution.  Oregon instituted the first Labor Day in the 1870s, and New York in the 1880s.

The National Labor Day Holiday came about because of national outrage over two violent strikes that were ended by armed intervention.

It was a time when the so-called robber barons thought nothing of bringing out private security forces to shoot strikers. They  lowered wages with no mercy. It was all about them.

In the Homestead Pennsylvania steel factory strike in 1892, Andrew Carnegie, the steel baron, wanted to lower wages to make the Homestead factory  more profitable. Steelworkers there made $10 a week, working 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, as much as  84 hours a week. His Deputy  Chairman Henry Frick wanted to pay them less, and attempted to bring in non-union laborers to replace them.

The union workers, some 2,000 barricaded the plant. Frick hired Pinkerton Detectives to disperse them. On June 29, 1892, “Pinkertons”killed 7 union workers with gunfire, and injured “countless” others and three Pinkertons were killed. The Illinois Governor called in the National Guard to restore order. The armed intervention broke the Amalgamated Association union. After this, according to Steelworkers in America by David Brody, wages of steelworkers at Homestread declined 20% from 1892 to 1907 and workshifts went up from 8 hours to 12 hours (96 hours a week).  What a great fellow, Carnegie. He’d fit right in with today’s Wolves of Wall Street, wouldn’t he?

This union-killing was followed by the 1894 Pullman Strike in Pullman Illinois. George M. Pullman, the creator of the sleeper car, housed his workers in Pullman City, Illinois, and charged them rent. In the depression of the early 1890s, in 1893 wages at the Pullman Palace Factory fell  25%, but Pullman did not lower his rents to his workers. The rent, if not met, was deducted from worker pay. A nice guy, George Pullman.  He could run a bank today, couldn’t he?

On May 11, 1894 workers with the American Railroad Union under the leadership of Eugene Debs, started a wildcat (unauthorized) strike in protest. On June 26, 1894, ARU members refused to service trains with Pullman Cars in their consist, to leave Chicago, delaying the U.S. Mail. Twenty-four railroads in an organization called the General Managers Association announced that any switchman who refused to move rail cars would be fired.

Mr. Debs and his union stood their ground. Debs said if any switchman was fired for not moving Pullman Cars, the union would walk off their jobs. On June 29, 50,000 union men quit.

Union supporters topped trains on rails West of Chicago.

President Grover Cleveland was asked by the railroads to use federal troops to stop the strike.

Railroad management began characterizing the union as violent and lawless, calling Debs “a radical.”

When Debs went to Blue Island, to ask railroad workers there to support the strike, rioting broke out, tracks were torn up. Railroad cars were burned.

The Attorney General of the United States Richard Olney, at the urging of the railroad owners, obtained an injunction July 2 that declared the strike illegal.

When Debs’ union members did not return to work, President Cleveland sent federal troops into Chicago. Strikers stopped trains, destroyed switches and burned railroad cars. Troops opened fire on strikers  attempting to stop a train traveling through downtown Chicago. Debs and his union leaders were arrested for disrupting the delivery of mail. Twenty-six civilians were killed.

Debs stopped the strike. He was sentenced to six months in jail and the union was disbanded.  A number of railroad workers were black listed and could not get a job on a railroad in the United States.

It was the first time federal troops were used to break up a strike. Pullman workers were forced to sign a pledge they would never strike again. The threat of the federal government stopping strikes lead to an end of strikes for at least 8 years.

President Cleveland, though, was facing reelection in 1894. Union leaders and citizens were alarmed at his handling of the strike.

As PBS put it in a documentary in 2001: “But now, protests against President Cleveland’s harsh methods made the appeasement of the nation’s workers a top political priority. In the immediate wake of the strike, legislation was rushed unanimously through both houses of Congress, and the bill arrived on President Cleveland’s desk just six days after his troops had broken the Pullman strike.

1894 was an election year. President Cleveland seized the chance at conciliation, and Labor Day was born. William Jenning Bryant ran for the Democratic Party and the Populist Party in 1896, losing to  Republican William McKinley.”

Then came a sea change in the great coal strike of 1902, when another “exemplary” capitalist J. P. Morgan fought the coal workers.

It happened in the coal fields of Easton, Pennsylvania, when the United Mine Workers headed by John Mitchell struck the coal operators  pushing for an 8-hour day. The coal operators employed private police and the Pennsylvania National Guard to protect non-union workers. President Theodore Roosevelt summoned the parties to the White House to bring settlement of the dispute by arbitration. After 6 months, the coal miners won a 9-hour day and a 10% increase in wages.

T.R.’s personal intervention lead to Selig Perlman, economist and labor historian at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, saying “this was perhaps the first time in history a labor organization tied up for months a strategic industry without being condemned as a revolutionary menace.’

The 1902 leadership of Teddy Roosevelt resulted in elimination of private police forces long used  by management to combat workers, when Governor Samuel Pennypacker became Governor of Pennsylvania. He created the Pennsylvania State Police in 1903, the first in the nation to supplant the independent organizations hired by management that were little more than strong-arm men.

The lesson of Labor Day is to remember the bravery of the union leaders who put their members first, did not make deals, did not sell out their members, and held out for the good against managements that were neither kind, humane, fair, or appreciative of their workers’ contribution to their corporate success.

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WHITE PLAINS WEEK ON THE NET AROUND THE WORLD NOW–ON TV CHANNELS 45 AND 76 AT 7

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JOHN BAILEY, PETER KATZ, JIM BENEROFE ON

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COMPLETE WPW VIDEO OF THE PRESIDENT’S ARRIVAL

ON THE DOWNLOADABLE WPW OF AUGUST 29.

THE DWI CHARGE AND HUGH FOX

WP SCHOOLS CURRICULUM MANAGEMENT CHANGE

WHAT THE SCHOOL SCORES REALLY SHOW IN WHITE PLAINS: A LOST GENERATION?

HOW BAD ARE THE WP SCORES. WE SHOW YOU

HUD MOVES TO PLACE ALL HOMELESS VETERANS IN APARTMENTS WITH NON-VETERANS NEXT

BROTHER JIMMY’S COMES TO MAMARONECK AVENUE

JOE DILLON LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN AGAINST GEORGE LATIMER

WHITE PLAINS WEEK DRONE CAM TOURS  NEW LYONS PLACE GARAGE

FASNY VENUE MOVE

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Photographs of the Day: President Walks Westchester Soil. Arrives on schedule; motorcades to fundraisers. Does Not Mingle with Press on Arrival.

WPCNR WASHINGTON OBSERVER. By John F. Bailey. August 29, 2014:

The President is with us.

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Air Force One on the horizon, a beacon at first, then the majestic dignified sweep of light blue wings! It sent chills up your spine at the promise, the dignity, the gravity, the responsibility of the office that every President brings with them everywhere they go.

Air Force One arrived as scheduled landing out of the northwest  this afternoon, first just a bright light in the puffy cloud blue horizon at 1:50 P.M. majestically touched down and rolled out on Runway 16, taxiing  back up the runway and pulled to a stop on Taxiway Charlie.

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President Barack Obama deplaning at Westchester County Airport today

 

His awaiting motorcade entourage pulled up aside the plane as about twenty reporters watched from behind barricades 100 feet away.

The President emerged from the front of the aircraft, waved at the top of the staircase rolled up to the side of the plane, and  descended, businesslike to the tarmac, shaking hands with Ron Belmont, the Mayor of Harrison (the only official invited to greet the President at his plane arrival according to the Secret Service).

Without so much as an acknowledgement of the press, the President quickly entered his limousine. The motorcade pulled out in brusque, businesslike fashion on route to a fundraiser somewhere in Harrison with another  money maker scheduled in New Rochelle this evening.

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Ron Belmont, Mayor of Harrison fielding questions from the press about how you make small talk with the President of the United States. Mayor Belmont was the only official invited to greet Mr. Obama on arrival.

Ron Belmont told WPCNR the President was cordial,friendly, welcoming and told Mr. Belmont “what a wonderful area Harrison is.” Belmont was beseiged by the press for nuggets of Obama news after the motorcade left for its undisclosed Harrison fundraising party. But Mayor Belmont was very discreet.

Secret Service personnel advised reporters President Obama would be flying to Rhode Island for a fundraiser in Newport early Friday evening and returning to Washington D.C. for the evening after  the Newport function. He is expected to return to  to Westchester tomorrow afternoon to attend a wedding in Pocantico Hills.

 

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City Plans Two Remembrances of White Plains Residents Who Died on 9/11

WPCNR RECALL. From the White Plains Department of Recreation and Parks. August 29, 2014:

This year, the City of White Plains will remember and honor those who lost their lives and worked to help others on September 11, 2001 in two special ways.
The City of White Plains Personnel Department and the American Red Cross will host a blood drive on Tuesday, September 9th at City Hall, 255 Main Street, 10:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Donating just one pint of blood can save up to three lives and is a truly meaningful way to give back to our community and our country, and to honor the heroes of 9/11. Participation is open to all. Pre-registration is available at www.redcrossblood.org. Please use sponsor code WPCITYHALL.

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The 9/11 Memorial in Liberty Park, White Plains.

On Thursday, September 11th, six American flags will fly from City Hall as homage to the six residents of White Plains who lost their lives on that day in 2001. The Recreation and Parks Department will hold a remembrance service at 8:00 a.m. at Liberty Park on Lake Street, the City’s permanent memorial site for these residents. The ceremony will include the raising of an Operation Freedom flag, wreath laying, prayer and poem reading.
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BROTHER JIMMY’S– STANDARD IN SOUTHERN BARBECUE LANDING AT FORMER BUTTERFIELD 8

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BROTHER JIMMY’S THE HOT MANHATTAN BARBEQUE HANGOUT WITH NUMEROUS LOCATIONS IN MANHATTAN WILL BE FILLING THE AIR WITH THE IRRESISTIBLE AROMAS OF PULLED PORK, RIBS, AND THE FEEL OF A REAL COLLEGE BAR AS EARLY AS NEXT WEEK RUMOR HAS IT AS THEY TAKE OVER THE SPACE WHERE BUTTERFIELD 8 USED TO BE (SHOWN BELOW). IT’S THE BARBEQUE THAT WHITE PLAINS HAS LONG NEEDED. SOUTHERN STYLE

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WPCNR DOWNTOWN STRIP. August 26, 2014:  

WPCNR has learned that Butterfield 8 undergoing renovations, will be opening next week as a Brother Jimmy’s the downtown Manhattan “go-to-to-meet-up-watch-the-game-and-see-your-buds-from-the-old-alma-ter-place.”

Brother Jimmy’s has announced on its website that they are now hiring for the White Plains location at 147 Mamaroneck Avenue.

University of Michigan alums in New York go to Brother Jimmy’s to catch the Wolverine games, and next weekend  – when UM plays Appalacian State to open their season, the U of M Westchester alumni are switching to Lola’s prior to their Brother Jimmy’s opening game next week..

Brother Jimmy’s according to our sources delivers southern barbecue, wings, the fishbowl cocktail with an aligator floating in it…and a conviviality the 20-somethings and 30-somethings love because it approximates the feel of those old college hangouts without the stiff formality of restaurants and without the younger crowd.

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BOARD OF LEGISALTORS APPROVES ICE CASINO OPERATOR CONTRACT. KAPLOWITZ CRITICIZES BIEDERMAN $100.000 CONTRACT

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Playland Ice Casino (at far right) on the Boardwalk at Playland last Spring.

CNR COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER. From the Westchester County Board of Legislators Press Office. (Edited) August 25, 2014:

The Westchester County Board of Legislators voted to approve a 10 year management agreement with Playland Ice Casino LLC, a subsidiary of American Skating Entertainment Centers LLC, to operate the Ice Casino last Thursday. American Skating Entertainment Centers also runs the Westchester Skating Academy in Elmsford.

The newly refurbished ice casino will open in September after the county has taken two years to repair the rink from Hurricane Sandy damage.

According to the management agreement, the new operator of the Ice Casino will “be responsible for all activities and operations of any kind and nature whatsoever conducted within the Ice Casino, including but not limited to learn-to-skate and learn-to-play hockey classes, public skating, in-house ice hockey programs, kids first hockey program, travel and high school hockey, freestyle skating, summer camps, concessions, special events and seasonal activities, and sponsorships.”

Chairman Kaplowitz cited the agreement with American Skating as the model that Westchester County should employ regarding operations of the amusement park.

(Editor’s Note: According to the Journal News, American Skating will pay the county $380.000 in year one, $250,000, year two, and 2% more each year for the next eight years. The contract calls for American Skating to make $640,000 in facilities in the next year and a half.

American Skating will pay the county  25% of revenue over $1.6 Million, the County Department of Communications said to The Journal News,\. The County Department of Communications did not send out a press release on the contract, and the Board of Legislators did not send out this press release until this afternoon, but that release did not includ details of the contract or why the contract with American Skating is a better arrangement. )

“American Skating was chosen through the County Executive’s RFP like the prospective amusement park operators.  A focused approach to finding public/private partnership opportunities for each of the parks operations was central to the County Executives plan to mitigate the cost to taxpayers of running the park.  The management agreement with American Skating is exactly that type of partnership.  I commend the County Executive for the efforts his Administration has made to improve park operations.  I think it is time to wrap up the reviews and take action.”

Sustainable Playland Principal’s  Contract to Analyze Playland Ops Approved Over Kaplowitz’s Objection.

At the Board of Acquisition and Contracts (A&C) meeting on Thursday, August 21st, Board of Legislators (BOL) Chairman Michael Kaplowitz (D) Somers, voted against a $100,000 contract to hire a consultant, Biederman Redevelopment Ventures Corp. (BRV) to analyze the operations of Playland Amusement Park.

The proposal, which will run through November 2014, came from County Executive Rob Astorino.  Ultimately the contract was approved by 2-1 vote.

Chairman Kaplowitz said, “I do not support this consulting contract for $100,000 to review Playland’s operations and make recommendations regarding opportunities for management of Playland Park and its facilities.  I feel the cost is too high and I also believe that this additional review of Playland will jeopardize our chances of finding an operating partner for the 2015 season.”   Kaplowitz noted, “The County Executive has already identified the top three operators for the amusement park through an RFP process.  While the County Executive’s top choice Sustainable Playland Incorporated, did not pass muster with the BOL, I believe that the County Executive’s second and third choices to run the park are both promising alternatives.”

The BOL Committee on Labor, Parks, Planning and Housing will be meeting on September 4th with Standard Amusements and Central Amusements International, the runners up in the County Executive’s search for operators of the amusement park.  The BOL could  vet both of these companies and reach a management agreement in time to hand over operations for next season.

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FASNY HEARING MOVED TO WHITE PLAINS HIGH SCHOOL on Monday, September 8

WPCNR FASNY NEWS. From the Mayor’s Office. August 25, 2014:

The City Clerk announced today that the third concurrent hearings on the French American School of New York application for a Special Permit to build a 5 building campus on the former Ridgeway Country Club and its concurrent hearing on the closure of Hathwa lane will move to the much larger venue, the White Plains High School auditorium on Monday,  September 8, beginning at 6:30 P.M. Citizens wishing to speak must sign up at 5 P.M. in the audtorium lobby. Citizens who have already spoken at previous hearings may not speak again.

The change comes after three months of intense lobbying and e-mailing by Gedney Association members who claimed the Common Council Chambers were too small and witnessing the hearings on closed circuit television on screens in the halls of the city hall rotunda was hot, inconvenient and inhibited attendance.

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At Long Last, Lyons Place Garage of the 21st Century Opens Today

 

WPCNR THE PARKING NEWS. From The Mayor’s Office. August 25, 2014:

In March 2013, the City of White Plains acquired the Lyon Place Garage from the Esplanade Assisted Care Facility. The garage had fallen into a state of disrepair and had been closed to the public. Recognizing its importance to shoppers and businesses, the City acquired the garage with the intention of replacing it with a new, state-of-the-art, eight-story parking facility.

The City acquired the property from the Esplanade at no cost in exchange for a 99 year occupancy agreement pursuant to which the Esplanade will have use of 161 parking spaces and pay a pro rata share of operating costs. The City began demolition of the old garage in May 2013 and after demolition proceeded immediately with construction of the new garage.

The project will make a significant contribution to the economic vitality and growth of the Post Road corridor. The new facility will have 619 parking spaces, with 458 spaces available to the public to support the workforce, shoppers, diners, and visitors.

A formal ribbon cutting ceremony will occur in September. Details to follow.

September parking permits for the new garage will go on sale immediately and can be purchased at the Lexington-Grove East garage office (located adjacent to Macy’s at the Galleria). Call the Lexington-Grove East garage office at 422-1392 for details. As in the City’s other garages, the Lyon Place garage will utilize multi-space meters. The multi-space meters accept cash (coins and bills) or credit cards and offer the “pay by cell” option. The “pay by cell” account is connected to your Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover card. In addition, if you forget how “pay by cell,” the receipt from the multi-space meter provides instructions.

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PEOPLE TO BE HEARD NOW ON whiteplainsweek.com or THURSDAY 8 PM CHANNELS 45 AND 76: Master of the White Plains BID Charts New DOWNTOWN Study: Tells What’s Wrong What’s Right on PEOPLE TO BE HEARD

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KEVIN NUNN

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE BID

ON IMPROVING THE DOWNTOWN

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WHAT TO EXPECT: ACTORS AND ACTRESSES ON STREET ASKING YOUR OPINIONS…SURVEYS BY MAIL WITH AMAZON.COM COUPONS

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THE PROGRAM WHERE PEOPLE WITH SOMETHING TO SAY HAVE THEIR SAY

WHEN IT MATTERS

THURSDAY NIGHT AT 8

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Photographs of the Day

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Phantom of the Past: a speedboat Cabin Cruiser from the 20s or 30s  Gatsby style slices jauntily through the Hudson River off Cold Spring, NY Sunday. Its rumble and throaty growl evoked confidence, swagger, zing, zip and ginger

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Lingering  Lily, the latest these daily showcase flowers have ever lasted in summer’s last blush this morning.

 

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