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You may get burned; The vote is in; Urban action

You may get burned

Benjamin Miles, a 14-year-old student at East High, thinks the hardest part about glassblowing is "trying not to get burned." Though he admits "it gets easier." | He is one of about a dozen students enrolled in More Fire Glass Studio's Glass Camp, a two-week program in glass blowing, stained glass, and beadmaking. | The kids come from varied arts backgrounds. For 10 available scholarships, two students were recommended by their teachers at the School for the Arts, the rest were recommended by the staff at the Center for Youth Services. Elizabeth Lyons, studio director, says: "It's about making sure it's open to all kids, not just those who can afford it." | And they learn more than glassmaking. On the first day of camp, Lyons says, the students are shy with each other and don't know how to ask for help. But the teamwork necessary in glassblowing --- and the urgency of molten glass --- soon conquers their hesitation. | "If a piece is ruined it's nobody's fault but the gaffer [the one in charge]," Lyons says. "Either you didn't teach your assistants properly or you didn't communicate properly. There's no blame here." | When asked how they like the program, the kids shrug and murmur things like "it's pretty cool." But watch any of them jump back and forth in the down-to-the-second cycle from the furnace to the bench, and their focus is tangible. They watch each other, waiting for their time to jump in and help. | "It's risky, so it's appealing," says Lyons. "It's intimidating and overwhelming at first, then they feel they've conquered it." As one teen completes his glass and his team takes a breath, everyone applauds. It looks pretty cool. | More Fire Glass Studio is at 80 Rockwood Place. Information: 242-0450,

The vote is in

Back in June, City Newspaper wrote about unionization efforts underway among employees at the Episcopal Church Home ("Voting day at the Church Home," June 18). A vote was scheduled for June 27, at which more than 200 ECH employees would decide whether or not they would be represented by 1199 SEIU Upstate.

            The vote failed, with 96 ECH workers voting for the union and 117 voting against. The results were certified by the National Labor Relations Board on July 17.

            The vote was to be the final stage in what had become a protracted process involving worker testimony in front of the NLRB, and the ECH's hiring of consultants Jackson Lewis, a law firm specializing in workplace law and "union avoidance," according to the firm's website.

            But, according to Bruce Popper, head organizer for 1199 SEIU, the story's not over.

            Shortly after the vote, the National Labor Relations Board filed a "Complaint and Notice of Hearing" against the Church Home, citing 10 specific violations of federal labor law that the home allegedly committed before workers filed for an election.

            According to ECH officials, a hearing will be held in September "unless the parties reach a settlement that resolves these claims." The complaint, however, does not affect the validity of the vote.

            In a press release issued on July 29, President and CEO of Episcopal SeniorLife Communities Loren Ranaletta wrote: "We are confident that when the NLRB hears all the evidence, these allegations will be dismissed."

            Interviewed shortly after the results of the vote were tallied, Popper said "[ECH] management and Jackson Lewis waged one of the nastiest, personal, and oppressive campaigns that I've seen in my 25 years as an organizer; doubly reprehensible because it's a church related institution and they likely used our [taxpayer] dollars to pay for it."

            A new state statute, "the labor neutrality act," prohibits nursing homes and other health care providers from using public funds to fight unionization.

            Asked earlier about the union's suspicions, one Church Home official would only say "I can promise you we're not using Medicaid money [to pay Jackson Lewis]."

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