April 5, 2001

Union Labor Rally Held at City Hall

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Chanting “no justice, no peace,” and “union labor all the way,” members of the Common Good Coalition and their supporters rallied outside Ithaca City Hall yesterday evening.

Following the rally at a Common Council meeting inside City Hall, the organization announced to City representatives its position on Cornell University’s building project on the Commons.

Certain members of the Coalition attended the meeting at City Hall where they urged the Council to incorporate their resolution — a Statement of Development and Principles — into the building project plans for the proposed $17 million project.

The coalition, a convergence of community, labor and student groups worked since February of last year to establish development standards focused on the collective concerns of the area, according to Jen Bloom grad, workers rights advocate for the labor coalition.

“We wanted to work together as a community to push for quality jobs for working class people,” Bloom said, “In addition, we wanted to begin a serious dialogue on workers issues, because up to now we feel we haven’t had a place at the table.”

School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) student Joe McNearney ’02 presented the four main components of the Common Good Coalition’s idea to the Common Council.

The proposal highlights the need to abide by certain guidelines, including higher standards to benefit workers under collective bargaining agreements between the project leaders and the workers, local hiring preferences, living wages for workers, hiring goals for underrepresented groups and independent environmental monitoring.

Following McNearney’s presentation of the plan, several other key figures showed their support for the proposal.

Carl Feuer, a labor coalition member, commented on an inconsistency in community diversity that he claims this proposal could potentially work towards solving.

“I would urge you to go over to BJM school and look around. You will see an incredibly diverse community of children,” Feuer said.

He added, “Now go to a construction project in Ithaca and sadly, you will not see the diversity witnessed at BJM. This is an inconsistency that needs to be worked out through the fair representation of women and people of color.”

A main focus of the rally was the Council’s current non-compliance with the Common Good Coalition’s efforts to ensure a 100 percent union labor guarantee on the project, including a hiring goal of 25 percent women and people of color.

“The fact that they haven’t agreed to 100 percent union labor is unacceptable to us,” said Christina Ingoglia, president of the Cornell Organization for Labor Action (COLA).

Ed Richie, also representing the Common Good Coalition, further stressed the importance of protecting minority groups and the need for living wages under the proposal.

“Women and minorities have the right to participate in jobs of living wage,” Richie said, “We at the Common Good Coalition believe that America is for everyone, and we urge you to take our efforts under serious consideration.”

Community, labor and student groups continue to push the proposal and its ideals, as no official decision has been made concerning the Statement of Development and Principles for the Ithaca building project.

“We are not giving up,” Bloom said, “This is round one, and we will continue our efforts to bring positive change to the community of Ithaca.”

Archived article by Aylin Tanyeri