A Homeless Amazon Worker Tried to Organize a Union. Then Amazon Fired Him.

Since August, 25-year-old Daequan Smith has traveled most days from a homeless shelter in the Bronx to Amazon’s fulfillment center on Staten Island, where he worked unloading and sorting products. The trip required him to travel on the 4 or 5 train from the Bronx to lower Manhattan, cross New York Harbor on the Staten Island Ferry, and ride the S40 bus to its last stop in Bloomfield, the home of Amazon’s sprawling Staten Island campus. All in all, it could take Smith up to three hours to make th

New York’s Yellow Taxi Medallion Crisis, Explained

On a picture-perfect early November afternoon, dozens of yellow taxi drivers danced and feasted in a celebration outside City Hall. They had just endured an arduous two-week-long hunger strike and a nearly three-month-long encampment to demand an equitable city debt relief plan, also known as the “Taxi Medallion Crisis”. It all culminated when the de Blasio administration announced that it has reached an agreement with the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA) and Marblegate Asset Management, t

Hurricane Ida Victims are Facing Eviction Again

On Monday night, management at the Radisson Hotel near JFK Airport attempted to evict about a dozen guests who have been living at the hotel since early September. Their homes were destroyed by Hurricane Ida. Nacy Peco, one of the guests, who is battling breast cancer, left her room only to return to find her key was not working. Frail and weak with hunger, she was forced for hours to wait in the lobby in her pajamas until she could be let back in. “I need my medication for my cancer,” she sai

Longshot Queens council candidate’s campaign ends in chaos — Queens Daily Eagle

As City Councilmember-elect Shekar Krishnan celebrated his victory with family, friends and supporters at Friend’s Tavern in Jackson Heights on Election Day, a few blocks away, Krishnan’s opponent, independent City Council Candidate Fatima Baryab’s campaign descended into chaos. Around 9 p.m., just as the polls closed, Baryab’s campaign headquarters at Jackson Heights’ Diversity Plaza saw Baryab’s father, Agha M. Saleh and a campaign worker engage in a physical altercation on the staircase lead

NYC Taxi Drivers Celebrate Medallion Debt Relief at City Hall

A jubilant crowd of dozens of yellow taxi drivers and their supporters celebrated last week’s historic news that New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission agreed to a medallion debt restructuring plan. Organized by the 25,000-member strong New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA), the cab drivers were joined by a plethora of elected officials like Mayor Bill de Blasio, Senator Chuck Schumer, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani among others, as they spoke about the importa

New York Yellow Cab Drivers Win Their Fight With City Hall

After a grueling two-week-long taxi drivers hunger strike and a nearly two-month-long encampment outside New York’s legislative center, cabbies finally have a reason to celebrate. Yesterday afternoon, outside City Hall, dozens of yellow cab drivers and owners and their supporters danced in jubilation after receiving the news that the de Blasio administration reached an agreement with the 25,000-member strong New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA). Both parties agreed to a taxi medallion debt re

How Two Innocent Brothers Landed in Brooklyn’s Guantanamo

Their nightmare began on a cool autumn afternoon on September 30th, 2001. Yasser Ebrahim, a 29-year-old gregarious undocumented immigrant from Alexandria, Egypt, and his younger 25-year-old brother Hany, were relaxing in their Ocean Parkway apartment in Brooklyn, when they heard a heavy pounding at their door. Not expecting any company, Yasser cautiously opened the door. Before him were nearly two dozen law enforcement officials from several different agencies such as the FBI, NYPD, and INS. N

Website Glitches and Convoluted Applications Push New York Immigrants Away From Rental Assistance Program

For the last two years, 49-year-old Maria Fernandez has worn many hats. In addition to being a mother of two and the sole breadwinner for her family of five, she has had to act as the caregiver for her ailing husband who continues to battle severe complications from diabetes. For nearly a year he has been hospitalized. To make matters worse, Fernandez, a domestic worker by trade, was suddenly laid off in March of 2020 due to the pandemic. Without a steady income, it grew exceedingly difficult t

Public Housing Is Going Private—and Residents Are Fighting Back

For a little over a year, 32-year-old Samantha Colman and her seven-year-old son have proudly called New York City’s historic Harlem River Houses home. After a tumultuous year in New York’s archaic shelter system that found her being shuttled from one seedy motel to another, Colman eagerly jumped at the chance at permanent housing when the opportunity presented itself in 2019. It was her first apartment on her own, and she could not be prouder to be standing on her own two feet. Soon after settl

Wage Theft Got Worse During Covid. A Stalled Bill Could Give Workers Leverage To Fight Back

This article was published in partnership with Gotham Gazette. Since 2014, Jin Gou Ke, an immigrant from China’s Fujian Province, has worked as a delivery worker for Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Paid a pre-tip salary of just $3 per order, far short of the city’s minimum direct cash wage of $12.50 an-hour for delivery workers, he worked long hours to earn enough to pay for the room he rented in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Typically, Ke said, he worked 11 hour days, 7 days a wee

Immigrant Workers on Strike for Higher Wages at Catsimatidis’ Oil Company

For five years, Dennis Spence has worked as a terminal operator for United Metro Energy Corp. (UMEC). An immigrant from the small Caribbean island of St. Vincent, Spence has three daughters and thought himself fortunate to have a job that paid $27.50 an hour. However, the work was inherently dangerous. Every night, he was required to climb up and down several large oil and chemical tanks to gauge their capacity. One small slip could be fatal. Throughout his five years at the company, discontent

She survived Hurricane Sandy. Then climate gentrification hit

Sitting beside her two grandchildren, Kimberly White Smalls recounted what it was like to flee from her family home as Hurricane Sandy hit the edge of New York City. “It was a complete disaster,” said Smalls, who lives on the Rockaway peninsula in Queens. “When we came back the next day, I [had] lost three cars, a scooter, and the house was destroyed.” Smalls was born and grew up in Edgemere, a majority Black coastal community in Far Rockaway, and never dreamt of leaving. She and her husband,

These Laundromat Workers Were Fired After Forming a Union. Now They're Fighting Back

On March 6th, 26-year-old laundromat worker Celia Dabada, along with two other fellow workers and several dozen supporters, braved the frigid winter weather and marched from a laundromat on the Lower East Side to the site of the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire. The march, organized by the Laundry Workers Center, was meant to bring to light the recent firing of eight employees of Liox Laundry Services which has four locations throughout Manhattan. Workers say they were fired because of

A Pipeline Battle in the Heart of Brooklyn

Last Wednesday, during a contentious virtual hearing, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) allowed public comment on the proposed plan by the multinational utility company to expand its gas storage facility in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, New York. A chorus of residents, community leaders, environmental activists, and nearly a dozen elected officials (including representatives for Congresswomen Nydia Velazquez and Carolyn Maloney) blasted the project, raising

My Family Unknowingly Harbored a Nazi Fugitive

Editor’s Note: The following essay includes mentions of genocidal violence and torture. Please take care while reading. Growing up, my imagination would run wild as my father would tell me about the hotel my grandfather owned in Cairo, Egypt called the Karnak Hotel. I was led to believe that one day I would stand to inherit it. To a six-year-old me, owning a hotel was such a glamorous prospect. Being raised in a less than glamorous working-class family, I harbored romanticized notions of inher

Jing Fong’s Workers are Fighting to Keep Their Restaurant and Chinatown Alive

As news broke last week that Jing Fong, the largest restaurant in Chinatown, was planning on closing its nearly 800 seat dining room on March 7, news outlets began writing the restaurant’s obituary; another historic New York institution fallen victim to the pandemic. For John Chen, who has been a waiter at Jing Fong since 1993, the prospect of one day returning to work kept his spirits alive throughout the pandemic. With the dining room closed since the prohibition on indoor dining last month,

Essential Workers Allege Underpayment and Dangerous Conditions at Subway Cleaning Contractor

With only a year in New York City, finding work was more challenging than ever for Jessica Vasquez (a pseudonym) after the pandemic hit New York City. After months without work, this Colombian undocumented immigrant took a job with LN Pro Services as a New York City subway cleaning essential worker for a prevailing wage of $20 an hour. In less than three weeks, however, she would abruptly quit. “In the beginning, the manager just told me that I had to disinfect the trains, but then they would m

The Latest Stimulus Bill Had Tax Breaks for Race Horses, But Left Stable Workers Without Help

In addition to enhanced unemployment benefits, $600 stimulus checks, and renewing the eviction moratorium, Congress’ most recent $900 billion coronavirus stimulus bill included some unrelated surprises. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose home state hosts the Kentucky Derby, added a last-minute rider called the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act. The act would improve the welfare of thoroughbred horses by ending the practice of medication abuse, which often leads to horse injuries an

As the pandemic exposes low wages and unsafe conditions at food-distribution centers, workers are striking

On January 23, after a tense, week-long strike led by Teamsters Local 202, 1,400 employees of New York City’s massive Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market reached an agreement with management that includes the biggest raise ever won by Local 202’s bargaining unit. The victory was the latest in a series of actions by the Teamsters, as the pandemic has ignited long-simmering labor disputes at food-distribution centers across the country. “I think the pandemic has raised the concerns of workers,” s

At the Hunts Point Produce Market, Essential Workers Have Won a Major Labor Battle

Amongst the industrial landscape of Hunts Point, warehouse worker Cheick Oumar A. Barry took refuge from the crippling winter air as he huddled over the amber flames of a campfire. Exhausted and cold, his spirit was not depleted. He said he was willing to endure the bitter cold another week. “This is nothing. Even if it’s raining or snowing, we will be here until we win.” And win they did. Beginning last Sunday, Barry and 1,400 other members of Teamsters Local 202, many of whom are immigrants,
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