Excluded workers' protest disrupts traffic on Brooklyn, Manhattan bridges

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
Excluded workers disrupt traffic on Brooklyn, Manhattan bridges
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Derick Waller reports on the rally, which included more than 150 protesters on the upper level of the outbound Manhattan Bridge.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Excluded workers disrupted traffic on the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges with their protest on Tuesday.

The workers are calling for "an additional $3 billion for the Excluded Workers Fund and a permanent program dubbed 'Excluded No More' to provide compensation to workers who have lost a job or income and are ineligible for unemployment insurance."

There were more than 150 protesters on the upper level of the outbound Manhattan Bridge, starting from Confucius Plaza in Chinatown.

There were also more than 175 protesters on the inbound Brooklyn Bridge, starting from Cadman Plaza in Downtown Brooklyn.

"While so many of my friends and neighbors were able to access the fund, so many others never got a chance because of how quickly the fund ran out of money. We marched so that the thousands of workers who didn't get it can finally get the relief they need. We need to refund the Excluded Workers Fund and work to create a permanent solution by passing Excluded No More," said Victoria Rivera, a board member at New York Communities for Change.

New York City Public Advocate and Gubernatorial Candidate Jumaane Williams, New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, and Candidate for Lieutenant Governor Ana Maria Archila joined the workers.

"The Excluded Workers Fund is an essential program that has provided life-saving funds to so many hardworking New Yorkers during their time of need, and it absolutely should become permanent," Williams said.

Workers marched with helmets, vests, cleaning supplies, and other work tools.

Last year, New York paid out more than $2 billion to 128,000 people.

A study from CUNY said another $3 billion would be enough to help 175,000 New York workers in need.

But where would that money coming from?

"Luckily, the state received very substantial federal dollars from the state and local fiscal relief fund and actually state tax revenues are up by billions of dollars," Lander said. "Governor Hochul actually has already identified two billion dollars in the state budget that has nothing that it's been designated for yet."

Laborers' Local 79, a union representing more than 10,000 workers in the construction industry, came out in support of the Excluded No More proposal on Tuesday, saying it would help close the gap between union and non-union contractors while making it easier for construction workers to organize freely on the job without fear of retaliation.

"We believe, that to end practices like this, the abuse of workers, the exploitation of workers in our industry, in construction, we need to fight for something like the excluded workers fund, so that workers, when they stand up they know that there's something behind them," said Tafadar Sourob, Organizer, Labor 79.

Eyewitness News reached out to Governor Hochul for comment, but has not yet received a response.

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