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Progress Resumes In MLK-Amistad Talks

by Paul Bass | Dec 6, 2012 12:15 am

(29) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Labor, Schools, Newhallville

Melissa Bailey File Photo Newhallville activists, unions and a charter school group spoke with one voice Wednesday night as negotiations resumed on a proposed sale of a vacant public school.

They all found themselves united, as well, as targets of a ministers group charging them with conducting “secret” talks that “trampled” open government.

The topic at hand: Whether New Haven will sell the vacant Martin Luther King School on Dixwell Avenue to Achievement First (AF) for $1.5 million. AF plans to raze the building and construct a new home for its charter Amistad High School—if the deal goes through.

It was on a fast track until this Monday night, when it got derailed as negotiations seemed to hit a wall on a crucial “community benefits agreement” being negotiated between AF and the neighborhood’s labor-backed alderwomen. Read about that and some of the issues at stake here.

Those negotiations seemed to return to life Wednesday night—and the battle lines continued shifting, with a Newhallville clergy group issuing statements supporting, then attacking, the neighborhood’s alderwomen.

Representatives from several groups negotiated for hours in a private session held at Lincoln-Bassett School: AF; AFSCME and UNITE HERE, unions that represent custodians and cafeteria workers; and Newhallville’s alderwomen and members of the local management team. They “met tonight in good faith with a goal of reaching an agreement that will allow Achievement First to build a great high school with the Newhallville community as a full partner,” according to a joint handwritten statement issued afterwards. The statement was signed by AF officials Dacia Toll, Candace Dorman, and Reshma Singh; and Newhallville Alderwomen Brenda Foskey-Cyrus and Delphine Clyburn.

“Both sides feel we made significant progress toward that goal, but there remain important issues to resolve and details to iron out.

“We are all committed to do that work as quickly as possible and in continued good faith, with the desire to come to an agreement in time to ensure that the school is built on time to serve New Haven’s students.”

End of statement.

The statement offered no details on what progress was specifically made on the big-ticket outstanding questions of the school’s sales price, guarantees of enrollment slots for local kids, or hiring guarantees for New Haveners as custodians and cafeteria workers.

No word either on other reported sticking issues such as those workers’ pay, management neutrality in a “card-check” unionizing election, or AF financial “investment” in Newhallville youth “enrichment” programs. (The Omni Hotel’s workers unionized, for instance, in a card-check election, in which workers sign cards stating support for forming a union rather than voting by secret ballot; Yale’s president and New Haven’s mayor brokered a neutrality deal with Omni management in that election.)

The fact of Wednesday night’s joint release was the real news. It was the first time the sides spoke with one voice, after days of public ante-upping.

While the alderwomen and AF negotiated, Newhallville ministers fumed. Their group, the Greater New Haven Clergy Association, issued two statements attacking AF for trying to “bully” the neighborhood and Newhallville’s alderwomen for conducting a “closed-door” negotiation that locked out the community. The Rev. Boise Kimber, a former president of the group and a once-prominent Newhallville powerbroker unaffiliated with the new alderwomen, tried to get into the meeting but wasn’t allowed.

In the statements, association President Rev. James W. Newman III vowed to file Freedom of Information requests to pry loose copies of the proposed community benefits agreement.

He also criticized the active role played in the negotiations by labor. Connecticut Center for a New Economy (CCNE), a not-for-profit labor-affiliated think tank and advocacy group, has participated in the negotiations in concert with Newhallville alderwomen and neighbors.

“Why are Alderwomen Brenda Foskey-Cyrus (D-21) and Delphine Clyburn (D-20), Achievement First, and the unions meeting behind closed doors at Lincoln Bassett School, a public funded facility, to discuss the sale of the MLK School?” Newman asked in one of the statements. “Tonight transparency and openness were trampled when these three groups met and locked out the neighbors, the community, and reporters from a private meeting in the public school. In order to keep it private and secret they didn’t even go through the proper channels to schedule the meeting, therefore meeting without a permit to use the facilities. No one else could do that.”

“When did the unions become a major player in these meeting, and what role are they playing?  Why did the participants at tonight’s meeting feel it was necessary to post a union staff member at the door to keep the general public out of the meeting?” Newman asked.

On Tuesday, prior to the negotiating session, Newman’s group had issued a release praising Foskey-Cyrus and Clyburn for taking a firm negotiating stance on behalf of the neighborhood.

Thomas MacMillan Photo Foskey-Cyrus and Clyburn (pictured at Monday night’s Board of Aldermen meeting) did not return calls for comment Wednesday night.

One of the Newhallville negotiators in the room, Barbara Vereen, responded that she and other neighborhors have spent six months working hard on the deal and came together as a result of an extensive public process.

“The people [present Wednesday night] have been involved from the very beginning. There’s been a lot of community engagement,” Vereen said.

Vereen is an organizer for Local 34 of UNITE/HERE, which represents Yale’s pink-collar workers; a co-chair of the Democratic Ward 20 Committee; and a volunteer with CCNE.

“We in the community wear a lot of different hats,” she said.

In the earlier release Wednesday, Newman criticized AF for “being bullies” by threatening to abandon the plan and find another site. The release also criticized the group for being primarily white while running schools with primarily non-white student populations.

Click here to read that release.

AF spokeswoman Singh said she was “shocked by the tone and the substance” of the release.

“They haven’t been at any of the community meetings we’ve been at. They haven’t been at any of the negotiating meetings,” Singh said of the ministers. “We are negotiating in good faith and trying our best to make sure we are true partners with the Newhallville community. It seems to come out of left field.”

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posted by: Nashstreeter on December 6, 2012  12:44am

It’s looking like poor Boise Kimber and his buds are freaking that they aren’t the Go-To Guys of the Black community any more.

But here’s a question: the unions representing the janitors and the cafeteria workers were there, looking out for those workers’ interests. Where was the teachers union? Is it just a given that if it’s a charter school, of course the teachers aren’t unionized? Surely the teachers must have some kind of contract, even if it’s not bargained collectively. Or are they just serfs: management can make them do whatever it wants; can fire them if they feel like it, give them sick days or not, benefits or not, promote them or demote them on a whim?
Anybody know?

posted by: dorothy25 on December 6, 2012  7:15am

It looks like everyone is working very hard at coming to a settlement of the community benefits agreement.  Keep up the great work! Kimber and his folks, on the other hand, always seem a few steps behind, despite their claim to represent the community.

posted by: robn on December 6, 2012  8:23am

Well it wasn’t really clear in the initial NHI stories that the CBA was never made public (not even to the BOA) and that the AF “community meetings” were actually a private squeeze session with AF captive of UNITE and Local 34. This story has certainly taken an interesting twist. My apologies for doubting those who doubted.

posted by: Curious on December 6, 2012  9:45am

What a mess.  I never thought I would see the day when a group of community “leaders” would cry so much about a new school opening up to replace an abandoned one, let alone the clergy.

Blocking this school from being built on the claim that it doesn’t do enough for the community is like blocking the fire department from saving your burning house because you want them to use bottled water instead of the hydrant.

What has the Greater New Haven Clergy Association done to turn around that abandoned school?  How about an information request on that?

posted by: Oscar Havyarimana on December 6, 2012  10:10am

I am proud Newhallville parent, member of the Newhallville Management Team and the Newhallville Organizing committee. I was so glad to sit down with my neighbors and my elected alderwoman yesterday night to talk about how our community and Achievement First become great partners. 
We are looking out for parents, students and workers in our community.  For months we have been talking openly in management team meetings and at committee meetings at Stetson Library about this great partnership. All have been invited to participate and we’re looking forward to finishing these conversations positively and successfully!
Thank you, Oscar Havyarimana

posted by: anonymous on December 6, 2012  10:43am

There is a deeper issue at play here. The clergy asks a good question about the unions “keeping people out.”

While nobody doubts that unions are a progressive force at the national level, until our local unions’ approach is about improving our entire city, and not just sending more money to union members who mostly live in the suburbs (via higher taxes on people of color who live in New Haven), they will continue to face growing criticism. 

A little transparency would also go a long way - currently, all significant Board of Aldermen decisions are made behind closed doors with the unions, for instance. 

If they want to be taken seriously, unions need to recognize that not everyone in the New Haven area is a white, middle-aged, suburbanite who works at Yale.

posted by: JohnTulin on December 6, 2012  10:51am

I could be mistaken, but I think the last contract - the one praised across the nation ad the model of school reform - stated that new charter school could open in the city, but that they teachers would be unionized.  An example of proactive compromise.

posted by: robn on December 6, 2012  11:18am

NASHSTREETER,

My guess is that (with notable exceptions such as Walmart) 95% of the population who arent’t unionized don’t really think of themselves as “serfs”. Most successful businesses encourage success by rewarding success.

posted by: Gretchen Pritchard on December 6, 2012  11:31am

I’m suddenly wondering ... could it possibly be that part of the problem these particular clergy seem to have with the folks who have been working so hard on this development is that nearly all of them are women?

posted by: Eddie on December 6, 2012  2:33pm

As a volunteer for several of the aldermanic campaigns, I’m heartened and proud to see the alderwomen and aldermen making good on their promises to fight for the community.  Before these individuals assumed their positions, projects like Amistad High would have been fast-tracked with minimal concern for the broader community.  At best, some powerbrokers would have made some noise and received a side payment to buy their support.  Now, after mobilizing and building consensus among an unprecedented majority in the New Haven community, elected officials have real power to demand more.  As a result, this project is going to provide local kids with good opportunities, while generating good jobs for community members.  This is the model of development that I supported when volunteering for the campaigns.

posted by: Threefifths on December 6, 2012  3:55pm

posted by: robn on December 6, 2012 10:18am

NASHSTREETER,

My guess is that (with notable exceptions such as Waldemar) 95% of the population who arent’t unionized don’t really think of themselves as “serfs”. Most successful businesses encourage success by rewarding success.


Hey robin You are right.How about this rewarding success.

Hostess wins green light to pay top executives bonuses totaling $1.8million ... as nearly 18,000 employees are laid off
By Daily Mail Reporter

Hostess Brands has been granted permission to pay its top executives bonuses adding up to $1.8million as part of its wind-down plans..

The maker of Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos says the incentive pay is needed to retain the 19 managers during the liquidation process, which could take about a year.Two of those executives will be eligible for additional rewards depending on how efficiently they carry out the liquidation.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2240494/Hostess-pay-execs-bonuses-totaling-1-8m-nearly-18k-employees-laid-off.html


21 CEOs With $100 Million Golden Parachutes
By Josh Harkinson

For some CEOs, the easiest way to get rich is to quit.Increasingly, corporations offer their chief executives fantastically generous severance packages—retirement bonuses, extended stock options, and pensions that can add up to $100 million or more. Call ‘em platinum parachutes.Check out who is on the list.Wow.I wonder why No union people are on the list.I can hear you union haters on this.

http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/01/executive-pay-100-million-ceo-severance-packages


“Although it is true that only about 20 percent of American workers are in unions, that 20 percent sets the standards across the board in salaries, benefits and working conditions. If you are making a decent salary in a non-union company, you owe that to the unions.  One thing that corporations do not do is give out money out of the goodness of their hearts.”  Molly Ivins

posted by: robn on December 6, 2012  4:39pm

“We in the community wear a lot of different hats”
Barbara Vereen,organizer for Local 34 of UNITE/HERE, which represents Yale’s pink-collar workers; a co-chair of the Democratic Ward 20 Committee; and a volunteer with CCNE.

The aldermen should being wearing ONE hat. The alderman hat. By the way, did the members of the union coalition ever submit their conflict of interest statements indicating that their union positions may be a conflict of interest?

posted by: robn on December 6, 2012  4:47pm

3/5,

I’m not apologizing for the corporate thieves you mentioned but the fact is that a much much higher percentage of Americans work for small business than do large corporations…not to mention that the public sector works for, well…the public. Are you saying that the public be damned? and yes I realize that a couple of thousand out of the 135,000 New haven Citizens are also union members.

posted by: Threefifths on December 6, 2012  5:38pm

I’m not apologizing for the corporate thieves you mentioned but the fact is that a much much higher percentage of Americans work for small business than do large corporations.

Who said they are corporate thieves.Golden Parachutes are legal.Just like unions that you hate have contractual provision in there employment contract.key executives have contractual provision in there employment contract.In fact as you see they leave with more money then a union or non union workers. 

not to mention that the public sector works for, well…the public. Are you saying that the public be damned?

You forget.Public Sector workers belong to the public.They pay taxes just as those who work in the private sector.You need to read the history on labour in this country.

posted by: robn on December 6, 2012  5:55pm

3/5

About 4.5% of the public belong to public sector unions. You need to stop telling people what they need to read up on.

posted by: Nashstreeter on December 6, 2012  6:08pm

robn: you say “a much much higher percentage of Americans work for small business than do large corporations.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (as of March 2011), small firms (1-49 employees) accounted for 29% of the private sector jobs. Medium-size firms (50-499 employees) had 27%, and large firms (500 or more) were 45%.

So you are technically right: large firms had 45% of the employees and small and medium firms had 56%.  It all depends on what you think of a small business. A firm with 200, 300, 400 employees doesn’t sound all that small to me.

posted by: HhE on December 6, 2012  6:24pm

Good luck robn, some people just do not read what they read, let alone what they write or say.  Also, some people cannot tell the difference between morally wrong and legally wrong. 

I can see an upside to Union Rep/Alder-person/Paid Community Activist/whatever:  a one stop shop for corruption.

posted by: Threefifths on December 6, 2012  6:45pm

posted by: robn on December 6, 2012 4:55pm

3/5

About 4.5% of the public belong to public sector unions. You need to stop telling people what they need to read up on.

Are you saying there are not unions in the private sector.In fact if you did read you will find Unions started in the private sector.In 2010, the percentage of workers belonging to a union in the United States (or total labor union “density”) was 11.4%, compared to 18.6% in Germany, 27.5% in Canada, and 70% in Finland.[1] Union membership in the private sector has fallen under 7%[2] — levels not seen since 1932.Private sector union members are tightly regulated by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), passed in 1935. The law is overseen by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), an independent federal agency. Public sector unions are regulated partly by federal and partly by state laws.
(US labor law)
I will tell people to stop reading up on,When they come corrected.

Would Union-Haters Give Up 40 Hour Week, Weekend, Child Labor, Overtime?

http://youtu.be/IqAdEqDzMcw

posted by: Threefifths on December 6, 2012  6:48pm

posted by: HhE on December 6, 2012 5:24pm

Good luck robn, some people just do not read what they read, let alone what they write or say.  Also, some people cannot tell the difference between morally wrong and legally wrong.

Would you say this is morally wrong and legally wrong.

Hostess wins green light to pay top executives bonuses totaling $1.8million ... as nearly 18,000 employees are laid off
By Daily Mail Reporter

Hostess Brands has been granted permission to pay its top executives bonuses adding up to $1.8million as part of its wind-down plans..
The maker of Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos says the incentive pay is needed to retain the 19 managers during the liquidation process, which could take about a year.Two of those executives will be eligible for additional rewards depending on how efficiently they carry out the liquidation.

posted by: robn on December 6, 2012  6:53pm

NS,

We have this federal agency whose programs apply to businesses under 500 employees. It’s called “The Small Business Administration”.

posted by: Threefifths on December 6, 2012  7:27pm

To all of the union haters.Did you know that the major of time spend by unions are not just to fight or wages.It is to fight for Safe working conditions so like this will not happen.

Death stains U.S. labels

Disney, Wal-Mart, ENYCE tags among debris in garment fire that killed 112 in Bangladesh

Labor activists have long contended that retailers in the West bear a responsibility to make sure the overseas factories that manufacture their products are safe. They seized on the blaze — the deadliest in Bangladesh’s nearly 35-year history of exporting clothing — to argue that retailers must insist on more stringent fire standards.

Charles Kernaghan, director of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, said nothing will change unless clothing companies protect workers as vigorously as they do their brands.

“The labels are legally protected,” he said. “But there are no similar laws to protect rights of the worker.”


http://www.timesunion.com/business/article/Death-stains-U-S-labels-4075512.php


Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights.I am a member.Care to join HHE and ROBN or Both of you cannot tell the difference between morally wrong and legally wrong.


http://www.globallabourrights.org/

posted by: Thomas Alfred Paine on December 6, 2012  9:51pm

Here is a news flash for the local media: the Greater New Haven Clergy Association and the Rev. Boise Kimber have no real clout or influence in the black community. They are not political power-brokers in Dixwell/ Newhallville. The media for years has assumed in their reporting that certain individuals are spokespersons for certain groups. Black people, like all intelligent people, can and do think and decide for themselves. Most of us are not sitting around thinking what does Kimber and the NH Clergy Association want us to do regarding community issues and voting in local elections.
Kimber thinks he has paid his “dues” to the community and deserves inclusion and special influence in regard to the Amistad school issue.
The elected representative officials have worked on this project, have held public meetings, and must understand clearly that this school is a positive thing for the community. Let them do their job to accomplish this. These ministers need to understand that this is not 1952. We have other people who can adequately represent and speak for the community besides preachers. I am not saying they should be excluded. They have a voice too, but not the only voice and not the most important voice. If these ministers are going to be extreme in their demands and obstructionist in their tactics at the expense of educators and students and their parents who want to have a new, modern school building on Dixwell which will meet the educational needs of our young people, then these ministers and their myopic organization need to step aside so that progress can continue on the building of this school.

posted by: HhE on December 6, 2012  10:55pm

Robn, you and I must be masons or heavy metal fans, because we keep banging our heads against the same brick wall.

posted by: Threefifths on December 7, 2012  1:16pm

posted by: HhE on December 6, 2012 9:55pm

Robn, you and I must be masons or heavy metal fans, because we keep banging our heads against the same brick wall.

Bang your head on this.Look at these goodies.

Ex-Board of Regents president got lots of perks

Bill Cummings

Updated 12:22 a.m., Friday, December 7, 2012

Despite being paid $455,000 in 13 months, Connecticut’s former Board of Regents president charged taxpayers nearly $400 for gourmet coffee and a yearly subscription to Sirius XM radio so he could stay tuned-in while driving around in his free state car, among other perks.

Robert Kennedy also scarfed up about $1,800 in meals, including a $350 dinner with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s former chief of staff Tim Bannon. And he charged $3,000 to a Exxon Mobil gas card and spent $78 on flowers for a staff member.


Read more.

http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/local/article/Ex-Board-of-Regents-president-got-lots-of-perks-4097769.php

posted by: robn on December 7, 2012  2:27pm

Bang your head on this 3/5. The Hostess bakers union slit their own throats and the throats of the truckers union which was ready to make a deal. It doesn’t matter if the company was poorly managed because they’re all now unemployed.

posted by: Threefifths on December 7, 2012  9:47pm

posted by: robn on December 7, 2012 1:27pm

Bang your head on this 3/5. The Hostess bakers union slit their own throats and the throats of the truckers union which was ready to make a deal. It doesn’t matter if the company was poorly managed because they’re all now unemployed.

Not true.The responsibility lies with Hostess’ management and the vulture Wall Street private equity firm behind them, and yet the workers are the ones who will suffer the consequences of this shutdown.Did you know that Hostess has had six CEO’s in 8 years, none of whom had any experience in the bread or cake baking industry. This, not any action by the unionized workers, led to their failure.Did you know Earlier that week when workers at 20 plants went on strike, Hostess management claimed they would close plants in response. In fact, they already had plans to close at least nine plants as part of a company-wide reorganization. The Mayor of St. Louis said of the closings I was told months ago.Did you know that While the company was filing for bankruptcy, for the second time, earlier this year, it actually tripled its CEO’s pay, and increased other executives’ compensation. They awarded the CEO a salary increase from $750,000 to $2,250,000, and other top executives received raises worth hundreds-of-thousands of dollars; all while the company was struggling. It follows a trend of rising CEO pay in times of economic difficulty. Some examples: At the manufacturing company Caterpillar, they froze workers’ pay while boosting their CEO’s pay to $17 million; and at Citigroup, CEO Vikram Pandit received $6.7 million for crashing the company, and walked off with $260 million after the business lost 88 percent of its value.

If you did not know Now you and the other union haters will know.Enjoy the real deal.



CEO Pay Caused Hostess’ Demise, Not Unions.


http://vigilantcitizen.com/vcboards/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=19078&sid=f783e23ac5418dc8df15ab2b6c2c90f4&view=print

posted by: robn on December 8, 2012  12:41pm

3/5,

As of last count, the fewest employees working for Hostess numbered about 20,000. If you assume they were getting $50K/yr probably an underestimate) then the payroll was at least a billion dollars. I’m not saying they were right but a few CEOs making a million bucks was a drop in the bucket and not this companies problem. And if you say that management strategy was the cause well there you go. There’s only so much cost that can be shaved out of an industrialized just-in-time product. What they failed to do was manage personnel costs (a failure wholly share, if not owned by the bakers union).

posted by: Threefifths on December 8, 2012  9:59pm

posted by: robn on December 8, 2012 11:41am

3/5,

As of last count, the fewest employees working for Hostess numbered about 20,000. If you assume they were getting $50K/yr probably an underestimate) then the payroll was at least a billion dollars. I’m not saying they were right but a few CEOs making a million bucks was a drop in the bucket and not this companies problem.

A few million.Not true.Read this.

The 6 Economic Facts of Life in America That Allow the Rich to Run off with Our Wealth.
Do you ever wonder why it takes the average family 47 years to make as much as a hedge fund honcho makes in one hour?Does it bother you that in 2010, after the crash, the top 25 hedge fund chiefs made as much as 685,000 teachers who educate 13 million children?

Read number5.Government jobs are just as good as private sector jobs. Another major con job concerns the attack on public employees. The greedy rich are trying to pit public and private sector workers against each other in large part because public employees still seem to have benefits the rest of us have lost (and they have unions and vote mostly Democratic).

Now read the rest and then show me how the unions are to blame.

http://www.alternet.org/economy/6-economic-facts-life-america-allow-rich-run-our-wealth

posted by: robn on December 9, 2012  12:29am

3/5

The facts of the hostess debacle belay your argument.

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