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As Talks Resume, Con Ed Workers Rally Near Union Square

.Mary Reinholz

Chanting slogans and waving flags, including one that read “Don’t Tread on Me,” at least 1,000 demonstrators massed this morning near the headquarters of Consolidated Edison at 4 Irving Place to support some 8,000 unionized employees locked out early Sunday morning.

The utility company and representatives of Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers of America resumed negotiations around noon today, assisted by federal mediators. Allan Drury, a spokesman for Con Edison, declined to give the location. Previous talks had been held in Rye, N.Y.

Meanwhile, demonstrations continued in the sweltering heat. “We’re here to show our support for the union,” said utility worker Damon Romanelli, 49. “I’ve been working for Con Ed only five years but there are guys here who have worked for them for 30 and 40 years and they locked us out. They want to cut back on our pensions and on medical. It’s not fair.” Read more…

What May Happen on May Day: Wildcat Marches, Bridge Blockades, and a ‘Guitarmy’

May 1 Union SquareSuzanne Rozdeba

May Day is almost upon us, and with it will come a citywide carnival of Occupy Wall Street demonstrations.

But what will May Day actually look like in New York City and in the East Village? Will we see orderly marchers proceeding peacefully between police barricades? Or will Wall Street burn, as the graffiti on Avenue A warns? Or should we expect, as Jerry Rubin predicted for the 1972 Democratic National Convention, “ten thousand naked hippies” marching on Wall Street?

Asked to predict the size of the demonstrations, Occupy organizer Marisa Holmes, 25, told The Local that May 1 will be on par with the movement’s fall protests or larger. “It won’t be a general strike but it will be substantial,” said the freelance film editor and graduate student at Hunter College. Read more…

The Day | Strand Workers Reject New Contract

The Strand: Army of One, Let Art Be Your WeaponScott Lynch

Good morning, East Village.

City Room reports that unionized workers at the Strand have rejected a proposed new contract because it would’ve cut vacation days, frozen pay for a year, increased the cost of health care, and cut benefits for newer employees. The bookstore’s management says the move is to compensate for sales that have fallen roughly 5 percent over all since 2008.

Though citywide rents remained relatively high throughout the winter, an MNS report picked up by Curbed brings good news about the East Village rental market: “The biggest decreases in rents from February to March took place in the East Village, where non-doorman studios are now 6.5 percent less.”

Gothamists sees bitter irony in the fact that upscale boutique Blue and Cream is paying tribute to grungy Mars Bar via a new photo exhibit: “Because if there is one thing we can all agree on about the old girl’s clientele, it was how much they just loved the kind of people who buy and sell $220 black t-shirts!” Read more…

Tattooes, Harleys and Good Manners: The Local Parties with the Hells Angels

.Rachel Citron

Sunday afternoon the Third Street Crew of the New York City Hells Angels transformed Jamaica, Queens into a scene straight out of a post-apocalyptic motorcycle movie. Roaring in on low-slung chrome-plated Harleys, roughly 500 tattooed riders seemed right at home in the desolate industrial terrain that hosted the 13th annual St. Patrick’s Day Bash.

All the ingredients were in place for a great time: corned beef, cabbage, a comely brunette serving $4 drinks, a rock and roll band and not a police car in sight. But Angels run a tight ship and there were no orgiastic drunken brawls observed by The Local. In fact, when a female reporter dropped her fountain pen, three muscular bikers scrambled to retrieve it. Perfect gents for at least one moment in time.

By 2 p.m. U.S. military veterans and iron workers on hogs were still arriving in a steady stream to the Portuguese recreational club on Liberty Avenue near 148th Street, greeting fellow wheelers with brotherly hugs and man-talk. They paid $20 a piece for admission to the club, lining up for the hearty catered lunch and taking in music by Hugh Pool and Buddy Cage from New Riders of the Purple Sage.

It was hard to hear and maneuver amid the crush of hulking alpha males in leather and denim, but it was clear that union members with their own motorcycle clubs vastly outnumbered the Angels at the event. These included bikers belonging to Locals 46 and 580 of the New York Iron Workers (currently working on the new World Trade Center) and to the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, New York City Council District. “We ride with our own clubs but we have respect for the Angels,” said the carpenters’ motorcycle club president Joe Urbano.

Of course, any public event with the cultural cache of the Hells Angels is going to have a merchandising component behind it. Angels clothing, including some items for women, was for sale along with copies of the club’s 2012 calendar (you’ll have to decide for yourself how it stacks up against the Fire Department’s calendar).

Kathie Gimino of Staten Island hawked black t-shirts and assorted “badass embroidery.”
Read more…

Striking Verizon Workers to East Villagers: ‘Make Noise!’

VerizonLaura E. Lee Union members on strike in front of Verizon offices

This morning, the blare of horns and cheering at the corner of 13th Street and Second Avenue marked East Village participation in the largest strike in the U.S. since 2007.

Dressed in bright red t-shirts and carrying signs, about 60 members of two nationwide unions (the Communication Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) again protested in front of Verizon offices today after contract negotiations with the company broke down on Sunday.

“Unfortunately, it looks like an atmosphere of rewinding the clock to a time when there was no union,” said Peter D’Esposito, a Verizon employee and member of CWA Local 101. Read more…