U.S. Rep. and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-Sunnyside, Astoria, College Point, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Corona, Woodside, The Bronx) yesterday laid out his “Better Deal” plan for Queens and Bronx residents before a mixed crowd of about 50 union workers and youths yesterday.
The Queens County Young Democrats (QCYD) sponsored the event, which was held at the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) Training Center, 45-18 Ct Square W in Long Island City.
“This event and this plan that Congressman Crowley is going to talk to us about is really about how the Democratic Party is looking to make our country fairer for all Americans,” said ,” said OCYD President Stacy Eliuk.
Crowley began his speech admiring the youths protesting gun violence after the fatal shooting in Parkland, Florida. He elaborated that their efforts in demonstrating lawmakers to act was commendable.
“Take pride in knowing democracy, while under threat, is alive right now,” he said.
Before introducing the vision for the district, Crowley referred to the 2016 election as a mistake for Democrats. He felt the party failed in communicating with working men and women, a point he emphasized throughout the night.
Crowley used this as a reason why his plan for residents is needed as it could help reconnect Democrats with all workers. The “Better Deal for Queens and Bronx” includes policies to provide on-the-job training, raise the minimum wage, and offer more child care aid to families.
“People spend more on child care today than they spend on private colleges,” Crowley said. “Sometimes they don’t even realize it.”
The plan also addresses issues such as transportation, education, and housing. The Congressman advocates for a modern 7 train line, expanded financial aid for students, and more tax credits for families when seeking housing.
“That’s what a better deal is about. It’s about investing in people, it’s about investing in jobs, it’s about investing in America,” Crowley said.
During a question-and-answer session, Crowley answered many questions about labor organizing. He felt there was not enough done to help workers organize in their workplaces and that the upcoming Janus v. AFSCME decision would add cause more headaches for workers.
“This Janus decision coming up on the Supreme Court will be a terribly, debilitating decision to organized labor. It doesn’t mean you quit, it may mean other ways we have to continue to work” he said.
During a discussion about the strike, a worker stood up asking the Representative to join workers at 34th Street and 10th Avenue. He added that he felt tired of hearing the same talking points from officials and wanted Crowley to join with workers. The Woodside native accepted the invitation.
A student asked Crowley whether he would stand up against right-to-work legislation, which allow workers to opt out of paying fees to unions, and laws that prevent workers from organizing in their workplace.
“I’ll make a vow to you,” he said. “If I’m elected to a leadership position in the House of Representatives, which I already hold in the Democratic minority, in the majority, I will never ever a right-to-work bill in the House of Representative.”
Crowley also pledged to repeal the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which restricted labor’s ability to collectively bargain with employers, and defended the right to strike.
“I believe the greatest tool for organized labor is the strike,” he said.