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.
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 Limits. Government, the public and watchdog groups would have access to more detailed information on the programs under the new bill.
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.
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.”
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."
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."
Council Member Ben Kallos today announced that he has appointed six new members to Community Board 8 Manhattan: Zoe Markowitz, David Menegon, Glen Pandolfino, Loraine Brown, Peter Patch and Dr. Katherine LaGuardia. The new members make up more than 10% of the community board.
Council Member Kallos introduced Resolution 115 with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer in support of allowing 16- and 17-year-olds on Community Boards, and it passed the City Council with widespread support. That led to the passage of a law in Albany sponsored by Assembly Member Nily Rozic and State Senator Andrew Lanza allowing teenagers to join their community boards.
“16-year-olds will be joining Community Boards, thanks to a resolution I introduced with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer that become law last year,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, who served on Community Board 8 Manhattan. “Community Boards are becoming more representative of their communities because of a system of reforms implemented by Manhattan Borough President Brewer, including group interviews to see how new applicants and re-applicants alike work together when solving problems. We look forward to providing residents with a stronger voice through their Community Boards.”
New York, NY— New Yorkers could receive more than a lease from new landlords, if election reform legislation from Council Member Ben Kallos passes. Kallos’ bill would require landlords to distribute voter registration forms for every tenant signing a lease for a vacant apartment—including forms in Spanish, Chinese, Korean or Bengali upon request. Landlords can additionally provide assistance or submit the forms directly to the Board of Elections upon request.
Yesterday, the New York City Council released the official FY 2016 preliminary budget response priorities, which calls for a $2 million funding increase for the Office of Special Enforcement's (OSE) budget, for a total of $3.6 million to strengthen enforcement of illegal hotels. The list of priority budget recommendations outlines that the increased funding would be used to hire 25 additional staff, expanding upon its current 11-person staff, to support a more proactive and robust enforcement operation. Additionally, the budget response calls on the Administration to involve other ticketing agencies, and increase transparency in OSE budgeting by providing a clear and complete description of OSE's budget and staffing.
Council Member Ben Kallos applauded the new City Council digital reforms announced today, which he worked closely with other Council Members and civic technologists to craft. Under the leadership of Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, the Council 2.0 digital roadmap includes a plan for more engagement and innovative tools, changes to the City Council website and an Open Application Processing Interface (API) that allows app-makers to create their own tools with information from the City Council’s legislative website. Kallos helped shape the open technology plan that was part of rules reform, alongside Council Members Lander, Williams, Cabrera and Greenfield.
Council 2.0 will engage diverse New Yorkers and make government more transparent. Speaker Mark-Viverito: Plan will “make the Council more responsive, transparent, and open for every resident in this city”
"Our children must be protected on crowded streets, and that's where crossing guards come in. I am visiting every school in my district, and the demand for more crossing guards--from parents, teachers and students alike--was one of the top-identified needs," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "We need the funds to hire more crossing guards and identify more dangerous intersections where they can be stationed. We also need to invest in our crossing guards, who keep our children safe, with increased hours and health insurance."
“We are a nation of immigrants, including my grandparents who came here to escape antisemitism, and the grandparents of so many. We must continue to accept all those 'yearning to breathe free',” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “The state invests resources in every person the second they set foot in our soil. By welcoming people with open arms, we guarantee a return on that investment. I applaud Mayors de Blasio and Garcetti for urging the immediate implementation of President Obama's immigration reforms."
“Early this morning, a two-alarm fire tore through an apartment building at 78th near Second Avenue. Four people were injured in the fire, one critically. My thoughts and prayers are with them and their families in this difficult time.
Yet again, the FDNY have been our heroes, and the fire is under control. Thanks to the FDNY for all they do to protect New Yorkers. The site is closed to traffic, and DOB and FDNY are investigating. My office is reaching out to offer assistance to those affected, and I urge anyone from the building to please contact my office so I can help.”
"This $3 billion federal grant will help repair the NYCHA developments most hard-hit during Sandy, and, equally importantly, fortify them for future storms. During the storm, Stanley Isaacs in my district flooded, leaving many residents in despair. These funds will help secure Stanley Isaacs, and other NYCHA developments, so residents do not have to go through that struggle again," said Council Member Ben Kallos.
“City records are getting out of the archives and onto the Internet, where anyone will have access to a virtual treasure trove of information. Many of the records we need to hold government accountable will now be online,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Chair of the Government Operations Committee with oversight over the Department of Records and Information Services. “Thank you to Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Pauline Toole for leadership on transparency and technology initiatives to modernize government. This portal is a great example of government building technology the right way, using city employees to develop free and open source software that will benefit not only our city, but every other government seeking to bring the same transparency to the people.”
"The life sciences are essential to New York City's success as a modern city. Investing in technology to better human health advances our society and powers our economy," said Councilmember Ben Kallos. "As the proud representative of New York's City's biotech hub, I believe that expanding and growing the life sciences are key to our city's success."
"We're taking back the waterfront and improving commutes through expanded ferry service for New Yorkers," said Councilmember Ben Kallos. "Among other routes that will improve East Siders' commutes, the 'Nerd Boat' will connect tech hubs of Cornell NYC Tech on Roosevelt Island, Long Island City, Astoria, and Midtown Manhattan. Thank you to Mayor Bill de Blasio for investing in our waterfront and transportation through ferry service which I have been proud to advocate for. I look forward to seeing ferry service go swiftly into operation."
New York, NY— Council Member Ben Kallos introduced a bill today dedicating urban planners to assist New York City’s 59 community boards with the intent of giving communities a tool to fight against some of the most major over-development. Urban planners would join the Borough President’s office but assist individual community boards.
New York, NY— Parents returning to the workforce will have the City’s support, if legislation sponsored by Council Members Ben Kallos, Laurie Cumbo and Robert Cornegy passes. The legislation would expand New York City’s Workforce1 job centers and online information hub to include resources and training for parents returning to work after taking time off. They called for technology training, public-private partnerships, specialized resume assistance, proactive outreach and expanded online information to help parents return to work.
“Early this morning, FDNY battled a three-alarm fire at 66th and 1st. Yesterday, at a seven-alarm East Village Fire, the FDNY worked hard to put out a massive blaze. In both instances, they showed that they are truly New York's bravest, and their hard work and courage saved lives. We owe them an incredible debt of gratitude. Thank you, FDNY. My office has reached out to offer assistance to the displaced in this morning's fire. Any person affected seeking assistance can contact my office at 212-860-1950."
At the New York City Council Sanitation Committee FY16 preliminary budget hearing today, Council Member Ben Kallos slammed the unsustainable and rising costs of the city’s Solid Waste Management Plan—specifically the planned marine transfer stations at 91st Street and Southwest Brooklyn.
“For many New Yorkers, buses are the only option for going crosstown. That means that we need more and better bus service. I thank NYC Transit for close attention to reforming and improving the service on many of our lines, and ask them to make needed improvements to crosstown service,” said Council Member Ben Kallos.