Pissed-Off Union Or Legit Neighborhood Safety Issue? Local 78 Protesting On West End Avenue

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

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Click notices for full-size image

Thanks to MUW reader Carol for the tip that the union rat is out in front of 393 West End (between 78th & 79th).

It appears as though Local 78 has concerns about New York Insulation, the contractor the building has hired to remove asbestos. And why might Local 78 have concerns you ask? Because apparently New York Insulation uses non-union labor.


To be honest, I don’t have the faintest idea whether or not there’s a legitimate safety issue going on at 393 West End. But when there’s a giant inflatable rat on the street with a guy handing out flyers promising me cancer with just one fiber of asbestos, I stop, photograph, scan, and post.

Along with her tip, Carol dug up an article about a previous spat between New York Insulation and Local 78 — seems like these two have a history with each other.

The article above, plus the flyers being handed out by Local 78 reps, highlight that New York Insulation has been fined in the past. Perhaps I’m being naive, but I would imagine pretty much everyone contractor in NYC — union & non-union — has been fined for something at some point. Also, despite those fines, New York Insulation is still certified by New York State. Per the Massapequa Post article above:

“The company is listed as certified on our website and that means that they are doing what they need to do,” said Karen Williamson from the New York State Department of Labor. “If a company is not complying with the law and our rules and regulations, there is a process for essentially decertifying them, which means that they would not be able to work on these projects.”

In 2006-07, New York Insulation paid a $3,000 penalty for fines, said Williamson. In addition, the company has had 26 violations at other sites since February 2008, but Williamson added that this is not uncommon for a company the size of New York Insulation.

“The real issue is do they rectify the problem once it is pointed out to them,” she said. “The fact that they are still certified by us shows that they are in compliance.”

I suspect this is really more a union vs. non-union labor issue rather than anything else. I’ve also come across a few sketchy posts/comments about Local 78′s head, Edison Severino — might do a follow-up post next week. That said, I’m glad I don’t live in 393 West End.

While displaying an inflatable rat is pretty standard practice for unions in instances like this, Local 78 has uses some other… um… “creative” methods for getting their point across in the past. I found the video below on YouTube — it appears as though Local 78 once put a coffin (and a sign reading “Asbestos Kills”) directly in front of an elementary school. Whomever post this video was not pleased.



By the way, that rat is kept inflated by a noisy and smelly generator… but it’s way better than this:



A couple of more rat pics from different angles if you’re interested (click for full-size):

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