Press Releases

May 20, 2015

Roosevelt Island, NY—After a 20-year-old was shot in the abdomen on April 25 in the Roosevelt Landings Complex, stakeholders announced the launch of a Law Enforcement Explorers Program to provide a safe and productive outlet for young Roosevelt Islanders. A May 27 event at Good Shepherd Center at 7 p.m., co-sponsored by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright, the 114th Precinct, RIOC and the Public Safety Department will introduce the community to the Law Enforcement Explorers and young people sign up.

 

May 5, 2015

The following statement can be attributed to Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), a software developer and Chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations, on Mayor Bill de Blasio's pledge to invest $70 million to bring universal broadband to New York City:

“Access to the Internet is as essential to helping New Yorkers stay in touch, find jobs and learn--but a stunning 36 percent of our poorest families in New York City go without it. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for committing to invest $70 million to universal broadband, a bold and forward-looking move that will improve mobility and connect more families."

 

April 30, 2015

This testimony was given to the Public Design Commission on April 20, 2015 to ask them to delay approval of this project so that the City may review the design and construction of the 81st Street Pedestrian Bridge with the aim of addressing community concerns and implementing a design consistent with the future plans for the East River Esplanade.

 

April 28, 2015

The New York City Administration for Child Services (ACS) which oversees the largest city childcare system in the nation, would become increasingly transparent and accountable under a new City Council bill introduced by Ben Kallos and Stephen Levin. ACS-subsidized childcare programs, serving around 120,000 low-income children annually, have been plagued by under-enrollment and daycare center closures. Though there are up to 40 eligible students for every one childcare slot, some ACS childcare programs still report 20% vacancy rates, according to City LimitsGovernment, the public and watchdog groups would have access to more detailed information on the programs under the new bill.

 

April 28, 2015

New York, NY   Hunger in schools is being taken on by new legislation requiring reporting and planning on free school meals for 1.1 million public school children, being introduced by Council Members Ben Kallos and Stephen Levin today. One quarter of New York City children are food insecure, according to the New York City Coalition Against Hunger. New York City ranks second-to-last among 62 large school districts in effectiveness in reaching children eligible for free breakfast surveyed by the Food Research and Action Center. Advocates have pushed for “Breakfast After the Bell”—free breakfast in classrooms, after the school day begins—to increase participation rates.

 

April 27, 2015

Fast food workers, students, car washers and others supported hundreds of airport workers from JFK and LGA airports who went on strike today.

THURSDAY, APRIL 23, 2015 — Last week, airport workers turned out to support fast food workers in the Fight for $15 national day of action. Today fast food workers, students, car washers and other low-wage workers returned the favor.

"On April 15, I saw airport workers around the country stand with us in the fight for $15. Airport workers and all low wage workers deserve respect on the job,” said Jose Sanchez, a fast food worker at Domino’s. “I am supporting striking Aviation Safeguards baggage handlers and wheelchair attendants because I know, if we stand up for each other, we can all win."

After receiving renewed, illegal threats, 250 baggage handlers and wheelchair attendants working for the airline subcontractor Aviation Safeguards walked off the job today and went on strike over these unfair labor practices. The strike started at 3 a.m. and includes multiple shifts of workers.

Aviation Safeguards services British Airways and Delta at both LaGuardia and JFK airports and has a history of violations at the airports. During the last two years, Aviation Safeguards baggage handlers and wheelchair attendants have filed various lawsuits and complaints about unfair labor practices, health and safety violations and wage theft against their employer. Aviation Safeguards employees have been fighting alongside 12,000 other subcontracted airport workers in New York and New Jersey for higher wages, benefits and the right to union representation and are included in the majority of contracted airport workers who report financial hardship due to the low wages and benefits they make at the airports. The majority are forced to rely on government subsidies to survive.

When Aviation Safeguards airport workers began to take action and call for the workplace changes they need, Aviation Safeguards sent a threatening letter stating that employees who engage in certain strikes “are not protected. This means participating employees may be disciplined or even fired.” Region 29 of The National Labor Relations Board found that this was an illegal threat and in February a group of Aviation Safeguards baggage handlers held a one-day strike to protest this intimidation and unfair labor practice. But the abuses didn’t stop. In fact the company sent a letter threatening the same thing. Today a much larger group of Aviation Safeguards employees said, “enough is enough,” and directly defied their employer threats by going on strike.

“The second letter was the last straw, why would Aviation Safeguards send us a letter that had already been found to be illegal?” said Pedro Gamboa, an Aviation Safeguards baggage handler at JFK Airport. “I am on strike today in order to show Aviation Safeguards that I will continue fighting for a better life for me and my coworkers.”

Striking Aviation Safeguards employees were supported by a growing movement of low-wage workers who have been standing up for each other in the fight for a $15 minimum wage and a union.

"I have stood up for fast food workers and I am standing up for airport workers today because I know that every hard working person in this country deserves respect on the job and wages that can actually support them,” SaidRobert Ascherman, a student at NYU. “Last week it was inspiring to see airport workers standing with me in the Fight for $15 actions, and I want to make sure I return the favor."

More than 100 low wage workers attended a strike rally at the airport along with community groups NYCC and Make the Road, elected officials including NY City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and airport workers from other contractors. New York City Councilman Ben Kallos, will join airport workers later in the day.

"All workers must have the right to organize. I am proud to be here with airline workers demanding these basic rights from Aviation safeguards. I stand with them as they fight for higher wages to support themselves and their families and freedom from harassment," said Council Member Ben Kallos, who served as a Union-Side Labor Attorney.

After rallying at the airport, Aviation Safeguards employees took their fight to the streets of Manhattan and held a second rally outside British Airways’ headquarters at 2 Park Avenue.

“This strike was not against British Airways but workers thought it was important to urge the highly successful airline to tell its contractor to treat airport workers right,”said Hector Figueroa, President of 32BJ, the union which the majority of workers voted to be their union representative. “It is not easy to be a baggage handler or a wheelchair attendant at the airport, especially if you are making poverty wages. But today Aviation Safeguards’ hardworking employees showed that they are not afraid to stand up for their rights under the law.” 

 

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April 23, 2015

Following reports that Comcast is dropping its bid to acquire Time Warner Cable, New York City Council Member Ben Kallos released the following statement:

“New Yorkers welcome competition and the opportunity it brings to finally achieve broadband for all. Now, I hope to see actual competition in New York City between Time Warner and Comcast that will finally move New York City towards high-speed, universal broadband and better service."

 

April 22, 2015

New York, NY – Council Member Ben Kallos praised the administration’s OneNYC plan released today, calling it a path to a stronger and more sustainable city.

Council Member Kallos said, “Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for working with elected officials and New Yorkers throughout this city to hear our solutions for OneNYC."