Now that we are rounding the final corner of the winter of our discontent, let us celebrate John Steinbeck’s 111th birthday with a labor conflict at the Barclays Center. According to the New York Daily News, about 120 construction workers at the oft-maligned arena have found themselves in dubious battle with their union, SEIU 32BJ. They’re paid far less than their Madison Square Garden counterparts and are threatening to stop paying dues if that doesn’t change.
And they aren’t quibbling over a few bucks here. Barclays carpenters make $14 per hour — better pay than Cannery Row — but compared to MSG carpenters’ Cup-of-Gold $46 per hour for the same work, it’s far east of Eden. They may feel like part of a forgotten village, but the grapes of wrath are fermenting and these workers are (wo)men, not mice. To stop paying dues may lead to the SEIU 32BJ becoming decertified; then they can join another union.
The union vote takes place today. Perhaps when the moon is down and the sun is burning bright, it will lead to a sweet Thursday for these laborers.