Happy Labor Day, where the movement has particular pointed value, as many working class people struggle in a system of socialism for the rich and capitalism for everyone else, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
This annual edition features an accounting of numerous going story lines in the New Jersey labor movement, including union efforts to secure better conditions for Starbucks workers, legislative action to protect warehouse workers, and temp workers, a strike backed by 32BJ SEIU for service employees in residential facilities, and, critically, how the state is handling a teacher shortage as students head back to school.
Last year’s issue focused in large part on the continuing membership gulf in Building Trades labor between the largely corporate work done and urban communities actually served, and the dearth of Building Trades membership among Blacks and Latinos. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Blacks make up 6% of union construction jobs. Consider too this nugget from a Philadelphia Inquirer story earlier this month:
In Philadelphia: “The local building trades have refused to share demographic data on the workers they represent. But the most recent available data from 2012 show that the industry’s union workforce was 99% male and 76% white in a city that is nearly 44% Black, and where other major labor unions are predominantly African American.”
Against that backdrop, we are encouraged to see stepped-up efforts by Laborers Local 55 out of Newark, which this year implemented a Pathways to Apprenticeship program to train area workers for union jobs – and long-term union membership.
You’ll find that story herein, along with many others you will hopefully find helpful as New Jersey workers battle for justice. I would like to offer a special word of thanks to Rob Asaro-Angelo, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor, for his InsiderNJ interview, also included below. Heading into next year, we will focus our coverage on how the state intends to replenish the Transportation Trust Fund for the coming eight years, on climate change regs and how they will impact construction trades, and how New Jersey will continue to implement federal funds for critical infrastructure project.
For the time being, and finally, I would like to dedicate this year’s Labor Day issue to Janet Caicedo, sister of the late Edilberto Caicedo, and to her efforts with Make the Road New Jersey and the State Legislature, on behalf of her late brother, killed in 2019 in a forklift accident in a Kearny warehouse.
If you don’t know the story, please read on, and take a moment to appreciate the brave efforts of a loving and devoted sister – who – in true Jersey fashion – refused to back down.
Download Insider NJ’s Labor Publication or view it below:Labor