Stroock Hosts Forum on the Future of Organized Labor in New York
Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP hosted a Government Leadership forum today on organized labor, featuring Vincent Alvarez, president of the New York City Central Labor Council; Gregory Floyd, president of Local 237 Teamsters; Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers; and Harry Nespoli, president of the Uniformed Sanitationmen's Association. The event was held at the firm's New York office.
Robert Abrams, former New York State Attorney General and Chair of Stroock's Government Relations Practice Group, and Alan M. Klinger, Co-Managing Partner and Co-Chair of Stroock's Litigation Practice Group, moderated the panel discussion.
"Labor issues permeate all aspects of daily life in New York City," said Abrams. "We were fortunate today to hear the top labor leaders in the city provide insight on the future of organized labor and its impact on our city."
"One in four workers in New York is a union worker," said Klinger. "The state of New York is one of the strongest places for unions in our nation, and that is in large part due to these union leaders who support the middle class and our communities."
The panelists were unified that supporting labor raises the quality of life for all workers, and that without organized labor there would be no middle class.
"Labor unions in New York started the conversations that are now being discussed on a national level," said Mulgrew. "In New York, union leaders rise above politics to see the bigger agenda. We are in constant communication and have formed coalitions all over the city to support each other. It is powerful to have unions standing next to community groups."
Nespoli was blunt in describing the difference between support for unions in New York and nationally. "It is a disgrace what the rest of the nation has done to the middle class by attacking unions. Union workers' rewards come at the end of careers. We take lower pay to receive our pensions and benefits. By attacking these concepts, the middle class is diminished and the economy is ultimately hurt."
Floyd added, "Without pensions and healthcare benefits it is harder to recruit city workers. We do not have glamourous jobs, we live paycheck to paycheck, and we need affordable housing. At the end all we have is our pensions and our healthcare. Without these things, it is impossible to exist in New York City."
Alvarez added a cautionary note. "Fifty-nine percent of New Yorkers don’t have benefits. But after 40 years of attacks on unions people are realizing that unions are fighting for the middle class." On a positive note, he said, "People are finally recognizing this and union support is higher than ever."
In addition to heading the Central Labor Council, Alvarez is the Board Chairman for the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University and a Board Member for the Greater New York Councils, Boy Scouts of America; the AFL-CIO State Federation CLC Advisory Board; and the Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies at the City University of New York.
In addition to leading the Local 237 Teamsters, Floyd serves as a Trustee to the Board of New York City Employee Retirement System and is also on the General Executive Board as a Trustee of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. He serves as a Vice President of the New York State AFL-CIO and the New York City Central Labor Council; on the Board of Group Health Insurance and Health Insurance Plan of New York; and as a Board Member for the Greater New York Councils, Boy Scouts of America.
In addition to leading the UFT, Mulgrew is Vice President of the American Federation of Teachers; an Executive Board Member of New York State United Teachers; a member of both the Executive Council of the New York State AFL-CIO and the Executive Board of the New York City Central Labor Council; and Executive Vice Chairman of the NYC Municipal Labor Committee.
In addition to leading the Uniformed Sanitationmen's Association, Nespoli chairs the NYC Municipal Labor Committee, an umbrella group representing 99 unions covering more than 300,000 New York City employees. He serves as Vice President of Joint Council 16 Eastern Conference of International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Vice President of the Central Labor Committee AFL-CIO. In addition, he is a Director of Group Health Insurance.
Today's event was the 24th in a series hosted by Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP. The forum was sponsored by Stroock's Government Relations Practice Group, led by Abrams and comprised of former prosecutors, judges, and government agency officials. Abrams also served as President of the National Association of Attorneys General, Executive Chair of New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s Transition Committee and Honorary Co-Chair of Attorney General Schneiderman’s Transition Committee.
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