Divide and Conquer: Building Trade Unions Split with Public-Sector Unions

Saturday, June 09, 2012
Coming on the heels of its bitter defeat in Wisconsin, organized labor received more bad news this week with word of a serious divide between public and private unions in New York State, the nation’s most pro-collective bargaining state.
On one side are public employee unions that have opposed Governor Andrew Cuomo’s stances on government spending, pensions and teacher accountability. Instead of backing their union brethren, building trade unions have sided with Cuomo and the newly-formed pro-Cuomo, pro-business Committee to Save New York.
The building trade unions contributed $500,000 last year to Cuomo’s committee in the hope that his policies will aid the construction industry, which has struggled to produce more projects and jobs. But taking this stance has put them in opposition to public employee unions that are fighting for their own priorities.
One of the key supporters of the Committee to Save New York is the Mason Tenders’ District Council, which oversees local unions in New York City and Long Island, including those that organize construction workers, asbestos and hazardous materials handlers, Catholic High School teachers, recycling and waste handlers. Other supporters include affiliates of the Laborers Eastern Region, an organization of laborers unions in New York City, New Jersey and Delaware.
Of the 14 members of the Committee to Save New York, 11 are business CEOs and presidents. The others are a college president, the president of the Real Estate Board of New York and one labor representative, Gary LaBarbera, the president of the Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
To Learn More:
Donations to Key Cuomo Ally Show a Rift Among Unions (by Nicholas Confessore, New York Times)


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