Newsday from New York, New York on April 3, 1981 · 15
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Newsday from New York, New York · 15

New York, New York
Issue Date:
Friday, April 3, 1981
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Sweatshop Workers Testify New York (AP) The anonymous witness was a woman .who sews dresses with 30 other women in a large windowless room with a single door that is almost always locked. She is paid $1.30 for a dress that takes two to three hours to make end sells in Many's, she says, for $150. She is, in the words of authorities, one of "thousands of easily exploitable workers" employed in sweatslmps here and in New Jersey shops "that rival in their health and safety dan-' gfers the worst of any that existed at the beginning of this century. The woman was one of two who testified yesterday at a state and federal labor hearing about sweatshops and other abuses in the garment industry in both states. Both women wore ski maalta to protect their identities, saying they feared harassment if their names were known. The findings of the hearing, conducted by the New York State and U.S. Labor Departments, Court Rules Against City On sHeartBilT for Workers Continued from Page 7 the Patrolmens Benevolent Association challenged the citys new interpretation of the statute. Representatives of both unions were jubilant yesterday following the courts decision, declaring that "for the courts to approve a change in the interpretation of the statute . . . would mnmit to judicial repeal. The decision upheld rulings bythe State Supreme Court and its Appellate Division. The head of the fire, fighters union, Nicholas Mancuso, said, "Were -very happy. He said the ruling meant that 46 fire fighters whose pensions had been held in abeyance would now get their full benefits. He said that the union would continue to press for legislation to make the heart bill "permanent so that firemen and policemen who put their lives on the line daily will get their just desserts. will be reported to legislators on both levels in an effort to end such abuses through legislation. The other masked woman, who called herself Sarah, said that she sewed at a shop in the Bronx. When someone is accidentally stabbed with a ne . die by a sewing machine, she said, the employer "uses pliers to pull , out the needle but does not take the employee to a doctor. She must continue .working. The workers can make as little as $57 for 40 hours work, she said. An executive vice president of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, Frederick Siems, testified that he was "surprised to learn that sweatshops still existed. But he added that it was easy to see how the shops could exist, given a lar geinflux of immigrants who "are so exploitable that its enough to make you cry. ' A spokesman for State Sen. Frani S. Leichter (D-Manhattan) attacked the problem of "industrial homework work taken home by workers and completed for payment far below the legal minimum wage. An assistant to Leichter, Tom Tedes-chi, said that industrial homework "continues to , flourish due to lax enforcement of state and federal laws, the existence of thmi wrie of easily exploitable workers, and the greed of certain ' manufacturers." " He added that the abuses associated with industrial homework, which include "lack of supervision, no inspection of working conditions ana no enforcement of health and labor laws, are just the tip of the iceberg of the current unsafe and unlaw-fill conditions and practices in New York Citys approximately 3,000 sweatshops. Tedeschi added that "what makes the situation even more difficult is that todays sweatshop worker is afraid to organize or even complain, for few of deportation. Some of the suggestions offered at the hearing for improving conditions included the licensing of garment-workshop owners and the enactment of law requiring them to keep accurate books. Con Ed Rate Hike Repeal Sought New York (UPD Officials of the city and Westchester County filed petitions yesterday asking the State Public Service Commission to reconsider the 15.5 per cent rate increase granted to Consolidated Edison last month. - The petitions were signed by 100 labor, community and tenant groups. They' contended that the increase was unprecedented, and characterized the utilitys performance as dreadful. City Controller Harrison J. Goldin, City Consumer Protection Commissioner Bruce Katner -and Westchester County Executive Alfred Del-Bpllo filed tbe. petitions, calling for a PSC rehearing on the rate hike. The commission has four months to decide whether it should roll the increase back "Judging by the past, it is unlikely it will take haoV the increase, Ratner said. "But weve never had a situation where, weve been supported by 100 groups. Were somewhat hopeful. "Were going to stick with this until we get the increase baric, Goldin said. The hike will increase Con Eds income by $449.5 million annually. It boosted the average utility bill in the city by an estimated $5 a month and in Westchester by $7.50 a month, giving Con Ed the highest utility rates in the country. "Its just too much, said Tom Wong, whose Chinatown group was invited by Goldin to a news conference in the World Trade Center. "I was paying $18 a month last year to Con Ed, and now I pay $30. The chairman of the Peoples Civic and Welfare Association, Lester Hinds, said, "The governor should fire the commission, because it is a rubber stamp for Con Ed. . Con Ed serves 2.9 million customers. New York (UPD Consolidated Edison proposed yesterday a special 10-year discount program for business and industry to .help create jobs in economically- depressed areas of the South Bronx and Brooklyn. Con Ed is asking the city and state to support the program through tax relief measures, including the elimination of state and city taxes on utility gross receipts and sales taxes for firms eligible for the discount. The program would offer a discount of up to 25 per cent to new businesses and industry locating in the South Bronx and Bedford Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Coney Island, East New York, Bed Hook and Williamsburg. Grant OKd for Hotel, Green Says Washington (AP) A $21.7-million federal it to help build the Portman Hotel in Times quare been approved, Rep. S. William Green (R-Manhattan) said yesterday. - -- Green, whose district includes the hotel site, faid he got the word when he "ran into the U.S. secretary of housing and urban development, Samuel Pierce Jr., in a congressional office building. The Portman project, an important part of the citys plana to dean up Times Square, includes a 2,000-room hotel and a 1,500-eeat theater. Port-man Properties, the Atlanta-based developer, estimates the total cost at .nearly $300 million. Construction could begin as early as this summer, with the hotel opening in 1984 under the management of the Marriott Corp. - HUD spnkaaman Andy Gasparich said yesterday that, he could not immediately confirm approval of the Urban Development Action Grant or the Portman Hotel. He said that staff recom in a week. Congressmen are usually informed of such grant approvals in their districts, however, before public nnrmnrgrnantji are made. The Portman request was turned down last quarter after having received a favorable recommendation from the HUD staff Then-Secretary Moon Landrieu had called it a sound project with "a strong niw to be fended. The project was denied a grant in December, however, because a single document was miaring from the application. , The hotel has been in the planning stages for a decade. Although it has the support of Mayor Edward L Koch, who says that it would create 2,000 jobs, it remains controversial. Opponents object to tl ii of public funds to build a project which they contend would be constructed without them. ' And many members of the theatrical community object to plans to demolish three theaters to make room for the hotel. The site, on the west side of . mas. omens accepted for discount jewelry MASTER CHARQS, VISA OH AMERICAN EXPRESS 29 HiCksville RiL, Massapequa, N.Y. . VIUGE SQUARE PIAZA Nad to King KuSwi Comsr Momck Bd. 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