Top Leaderboard, Site wide
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
June 27, 2017 Disclaimer: Please read.

Statements and opinions expressed in articles are those of the authors, not Truthdig. Truthdig takes no responsibility for such statements or opinions.

Truthdig Bazaar
Resentment: A Comedy

Resentment: A Comedy

Gary Indiana

more items

Ear to the Ground
Email this item Print this item

N.Y. Laborers Local Takes a Stand at Liberty Plaza

Posted on Oct 12, 2011
Alexander Reed Kelly

Mike Hellstrom (left) worked his way up to union leadership after beginning as a rank-and-file member.

Mike Hellstrom, a construction and private sanitation worker for more than two decades, has been involved in union work for 27 years, and he’s tired of watching his friends and colleagues lose their benefits and earnings after laboring for their entire lives.

Hellstrom and four of his colleagues braved blustering winds to stand with Wall Street protesters Wednesday against the loss of workers’ compensation. His union, Laborers Local 108, is a progressive labor organization in the Greater New York area that represents “average blue collar, working class people that go to work every single day and try to earn a living and feed their families and be part of the so-called middle class, which is evaporating before our eyes,” as he put it.

“We’re fighting corporate greed at the bargaining table. Not just for the last three years but for the last 100 years,” he said.

When asked about the cuts that sanitation workers are suffering, he began by acknowledging the need for all members of a company to share the burden of sacrifice during a genuine financial crisis. But workers are giving up much more than executives, he said.

You know, you got companies that want give-back after give-back after give-back. I can understand—if the company is doing bad and the members have to make a sacrifice to save the company—hey, we’re all in that together. But when their profits are still moving forward and they’re taking advantage of a situation and saying to us they expect us to take a greater portion for medical care or give back sick days and holidays or walk back from secured retirement plans that we have right now because they deem them to be toxic investments, that really starts to irk me to the core, especially retirement. If I can invest 40 years of my life into an occupation, I believe 100 percent that that employer has an obligation back to that employee to provide them with a sound secure retirement system, and employers today are just walking away from those obligations in droves.

And what percentage of the men and women working in his field are facing these hardships? “Every single one,” he said. “100 percent.” —ARK


Banner, End of Story, Desktop
Banner, End of Story, Mobile
Watch a selection of Wibbitz videos based on Truthdig stories:

Get a book from one of our contributors in the Truthdig Bazaar.

Related Entries

Get truth delivered to
your inbox every day.

New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

Join the conversation

Load Comments

By joe12345, October 13, 2011 at 11:09 pm Link to this comment

I feel bad for you Mike,
  Were living in a tyranny, and until everyone starts pulling on the same rope, nothing will ever change…..

Report this

By SarcastiCanuck, October 13, 2011 at 6:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Excellent,now America’s hardworking and honest silent majority is starting to get mad and vocal.If this ground swell can gain momentum and get enough people,then you stand a chance….Where are all your media darlings in this?

Report this
PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, October 13, 2011 at 3:37 am Link to this comment

Next we need a General Strike.

I bet Congress would sit up and take notice then.

Report this
Right Top, Site wide - Care2
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
Right Internal Skyscraper, Site wide

Like Truthdig on Facebook