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Union group seeks to legislate Hudson Yards victory



hudson yards

A union umbrella group offered its vision for settling the biggest fight in the city’s construction industry: Legislate a win for union workers. Labor leader Gary LaBarbera has been in an ugly and escalating battle with Hudson Yards developer The Related Cos. over pay.

The AFL-CIO drafted a bill on Monday that would seek to require the West Side mega-development, along with other large projects such as the Gateway Tunnel and Amazon’s new Long Island City headquarters, to pay prevailing wages to construction workers.

The proposal as yet has no sponsors, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo has sided with the 100,000-member union construction industry before on wage issues, attaching a mandatory wage to a popular affordable-housing incentive program known as 421a in 2017 and now called the Affordable New York Housing Program.

The state-mandated pay thresholds are generally considered beneficial to union labor, leveling the playing field against a surging nonunion labor pool that might otherwise win work by charging less.
John Banks, the president of the Real Estate Board of New York, a real estate industry lobbying group, called the move manipulative and said it was a “blatant power grab.”

“They are trying to manipulate the legislative process at the expense of the general public to make up for the fact that they cannot compete on the merits. This proposal will raise costs, limit job growth, reduce economic activity, and ultimately have a harmful impact on New York,” Banks wrote in a statement on Thursday.
Such legislation, if it were to be adopted, would be disastrous for The Related Cos., which has sought to break union labor’s grip on the Hudson Yards project. Earlier this year Related sued LaBarbera and the labor group he leads, the Building and Construction Trades Council, in an effort to staff the second half of the $20 billion Hudson Yards project with a labor pool of its choosing.

Related wants the leeway to use a mix of union and nonunion workers at the site, allowing it to hire skilled union workers who are difficult or impossible to replace for certain tasks and less skilled but cheaper nonunion workers for more menial work. With billions of dollars of wages at stake, LaBarbera and other labor leaders have fought back, organizing bitter public protests that have targeted Related and its billionaire chairman, Stephen Ross.

“We fully support the AFL-CIO draft bill and look forward to working with the governor and the Legislature next year to get it passed,” a spokesman for LaBarbera and the trades council said in a statement.

Related did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for Cuomo declined to comment on the proposal.


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9-year-old genius to graduate university




Laurent Simons

(CNN) – A child prodigy from Belgium is on course to gain a bachelor’s degree at the tender age of 9.

Laurent Simons is studying electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) — a tough course even for students of an average graduate age.

Described by staff as “simply extraordinary,” Laurent is on course to finish his degree in December.

He then plans to embark on a PhD program in electrical engineering while also studying for a medicine degree, his father told CNN.

His parents, Lydia and Alexander Simons, said they thought Laurent’s grandparents were exaggerating when they said he had a gift, but his teachers soon concurred.

“They noticed something very special about Laurent,” said Lydia.

Laurent was given test after test as teachers tried to work out the extent of his talents. “They told us he is like a sponge,” said Alexander.

While Laurent comes from a family of doctors, his parents have so far not received any explanation as to why their child prodigy is capable of learning so quickly.

But Lydia has her own theory.

“I ate a lot of fish during the pregnancy,” she joked.

The TUE has allowed Laurent to complete his course faster than other students.

“That is not unusual,” said Sjoerd Hulshof, education director of the TUE bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, in a statement.

“Special students that have good reasons for doing so can arrange an adjusted schedule. In much the same way we help students who participate in top sport.”

Hulshof said Laurent is “simply extraordinary” and praised the youngster.

“Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,” he said. “Not only is he hyper intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.”

Laurent told CNN his favorite subject is electrical engineering and he’s also “going to study a bit of medicine.”

His progress has not gone unnoticed and he is already being sought out by prestigious universities around the world, although Laurent’s family wouldn’t be drawn on naming which of them he is considering for his PhD.

“The absorption of information is no problem for Laurent,” said his father.

“I think the focus will be on research and applying the knowledge to discover new things.”

While Laurent is evidently able to learn faster than most, his parents are being careful to let him enjoy himself too.

“We don’t want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes,” said Alexander. “We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents.”

Laurent said he enjoys playing with his dog Sammy and playing on his phone, like many young people.

However, unlike most 9-year-olds, he has already worked out what he wants to do with his life: develop artificial organs.

In the meantime, Laurent has to finish his bachelor’s degree and choose which academic institution will play host to the next stage in his remarkable journey.

Before that, he plans on taking a vacation to Japan for an undoubtedly well-deserved break.

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New award to honor arts and activism named after Lena Horne




Lena Horne

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Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem




Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem

Two gangbangers aimed their BMW like a missile at a father and his 8-year-old son on a Harlem sidewalk in a horrifying incident captured by video distributed by police Thursday.

The BMW — driven by a man police believe is a member of the Gorilla Stone Bloods Gang — was zeroed in on the father, a rival gang member, said cops.

Around 3:45 p.m. Nov. 6, the boy and his father were walking on W. 112th St. by Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. when the BMW jumped the sidewalk and slammed into them both, said cops.

Father and son were both knocked through a gate.

The BMW driver then backed up — and its driver and passenger, also believed to be a gang member, jumped out of the car and ran toward the father and the son.

One of the attackers slashed the father, identified by sources as 32-year-old Brian McIntosh, who’s served prison time for robbery and bail jumping.

McIntosh and his son went to Harlem Hospital. Miraculously, the boy escaped serious harm.

McIntosh was so adamant about refusing to help police catch his attackers that the young boy’s mother had to file a police report alleging he was the victim of a crime, police sources said.

Cops released video of the attack, and ask anyone with information about the suspects to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.


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