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Since mid-April, the United Metro Energy facility in Brooklyn has had a squadron of oil workers stationed outside—alternating shifts so that men are there 24 hours, seven days a week—striking for better pay and benefits from the company’s owner: grocery store billionaire, twice-failed mayoral candidate, and right-wing shock jock John Catsimatidis.
The workers, a coalition of mechanics, terminal operators, and service technicians, elected to go on strike on April 19, following years of delayed negotiations on a union contract, which they voted to form back in 2018. “We are out there every single day, around the clock,” said Assaf John, who has been working as a service technician at the company for 12 years. “I’m here until 3 o’clock, then we have guys coming in at 3 p.m., and some who are there overnight until the morning.”
Catsimatidis told The Daily Beast by phone that the picket line was a first for him. “All I can say is that I’m a New Yorker for 70 years, and in 51 years of doing business I’ve never had a strike before, and contrary to what you hear we have never, ever refused to sit down,” he said. “I am always available.”
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