This email covers upcoming infrastructure work, a back to school reminder, and the (now traditional) annual Labor Day message. There’s a fair amount happening over the next few weeks, so there will be a brief increase in the frequency of these messages – apologies.
Considerable curb work and repaving starts in the next two weeks – after years of fiscal control and budget constraints, we finally have the latitude to address outstanding infrastructure issues. This effort will compress into two years what is typically done over eight. The result will be something you should definitely notice. We’re putting new curbs in select areas starting in a few days, and then moving onto a repaving effort four times the usual. The full list of curbs and roads being repaved can be found ( HERE ). (The list covers just this year’s work, and has been compiled in large part by an engineering consultant who helped us prioritize road repair.) We plan also to rebuild the sidewalk on a portion of Lefurgy near Hillside Elementary that currently is demarcated by ugly concrete markers. That, too, will be completed this Fall.
Back to School
Once again, our 1,600 or so children head back to school Tuesday. If you drive during school opening and closing hours, easy on the gas and long on patience. Also, once again, if you have a sidewalk or live on a corner where your trees or bushes might block sight lines for turning cars or force kids into the street, please pull out the hedge clippers and go to work. Finally, parents, as you prepare for school, remember to shop downtown. Our merchants appreciate your business, and school supplies can be found in a number of stores. The Library also hosts this Saturday (9AM to 2PM) their annual "back to school” book sale, featuring novels, mysteries, biographies, history, cook books, children's books, and even some literary surprises. Finally, a welcome to new School Superintendent Tony Sinasis, kicking off his first school year here: all the best in handling the most important charge in this village – our children.
Labor Day and Hastings
Labor Day dates back to 1894, when President Cleveland attempted to appease the nascent labor movement after thirty workers were killed during the Pullman strikes. Hasting’s role in the labor strife of the early part of the twentieth century adds a personal note for us to what is otherwise a bookend to the summer, a moment of pause before the start of the school year.
In 1912, a large strike wracked the National Conduit and Cable Company on the waterfront at the base of Washington street. It devolved into a pitched battle when police tried to seize one of the strike leaders. Guards, armed and deputized by the factory owner, fired wildly into the crowds, killing two strikers – and a stray bullet killed a young Polish mother playing with her child a distance away. The New York National Guard was called in to restore peace. Militant union activity continued throughout the following years: factory owners had to employ large security forces to keep order. In 1916, as part of a strike seeking a five-cent hourly increase, a group of 200 women strikers attacked scabs entering Building 52 (coincidentally, the last remaining structure now being demolished). The women then encouraged over 1,500 men to stone the building and attack police. This time, no shots were fired, but workers rioted in the village for two days, and the National Guard was called out yet again. A bayonet charge finally cleared the streets, leaving several wounded. The strike activity received national attention.
This nation has benefited tremendously from the fact that workers organized: after years of strife and struggle, the laws and regulations were laid down that helped both those in and outside labor unions. Most of us now enjoy workplace-provided health insurance, the five-day workweek, and safe workplace conditions, as well as a regulatory oversight to enforce all this. Residents benefit from the services of teachers, police, tradesmen and DPW employees, who in turn enjoy the benefits that unions have brought them: representation and a middle-class lifestyle that forms the backbone of our community. The century-old union anthem, sung to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, says it: “Solidarity forever, solidarity forever, solidarity forever, for the union make us strong.”