Friday, October 09, 2009

Non Stella Performance

In a follow up to our post this morning on the shameful closing of the Stella D'Oro factory, there is a good story in the Labor Press that deserves comment-since it highlights the class limited world view of our billionaire mayor: "As politicians and labor leaders were falling over each other at a City Hall news conference to say how much they were in solidarity with Stella D’oro workers in the Bronx – and how they would “stand by” them – managers on 237th Street were shutting the plant down and putting 155 people out of work. Mike Filippou, a lead mechanic at the plant for 14 years and Local 50’s chief shop steward at the plant, described what happened when he got back up to the Bronx after the news conference ended.“When the 3pm shift left the plant, the managers wouldn’t let in the workers who had come to work the next shift,” he said. “They said, ‘you’re not working today.’ They surprised us today,” he continued. “They didn’t let anyone in to work, just a few people to pick up things from their lockers.”

Where is the mayor in all of this? Not demonstrating any concern or solidarity with the displaced workers. But who could really be surprised? This is the same guy-courtesy of the new president of Bloomberg LLP, one Dan Doctoroff-who evicted 20 minority wholesalers, and hundreds of their workers at the Bronx Terminal Market, so that his billionaire real estate buddy could build another mall with chain stores that are providing poverty wage jobs.

This is the same guy who wants to evict 250 businesses and 2500 mostly immigrant workers from Willets Point-with no relocation plan-for a mega development pipe dream that will cost the city's around $700 million even before the first shovel ever gets put in the ground.

And this is the guy who is supporting the building of another tax subsidized mall at the Kingsbridge Armory with, once again, his good friend Steve Ross of Related as the developer; while resisting tooth and nail any provision that would insure that the retail workers would get paid a living wage. In addition, this development could very well include a mega food store that would put at risk union staffed supermarkets, as well as immigrant entrepreneurs in 17 other local food stores.

So what we see at Stella D'Oro-or, not see, as the case may be-is an encapsulation of the class-based world view of a man who made his billions on Wall Street, flies in his own private jet and helicopter to his numerous properties around the country and the world; and who gets his policy perspectives talking to the stock brokers, real estate tycoons, and hedge fund managers at the various exclusive clubs he belongs to.

Unfortunately, the policies that emerge from this patrician perspective, are ones that the city can no longer afford-as the record levels of retail store closings and sky high unemployment clearly demonstrates. So when some flack from the Bloomberg campaign complains, with a straight face and no obvious sense of irony, that a Thompson development proposal is too costly, what is missing is the understanding that it is the citizens of the city-but particularly its poorest residents-who are finding that it is the mayor's existing economic policies are too costly for their own well being.

And nothing underscores this more than the mayor's silence on the Stella D'oro tragedy. Here's a guy who will go to great lengths to sting gun dealers in Tennessee, or stop smoking in the park-but can't even lift a symbolic finger for the working class of New York-except when trying to promote an economic agenda that's built on falsehoods and false promises.