Editorial

Jobs come first

 

We’re not going to tell you that the deal that the City of New York cut with FreshDirect, the online grocery vendor, was a good one. It is easy to say that this is just another case of corporate welfare, and perhaps it was. But it was a necessary one in light of the circumstances.

It is sad to see the states of New York and New Jersey in the sorry position of competing with each other for precious jobs that need to stay in the region anyway. We should be working in unison with our neighbors to bring new jobs to the metropolitan area, jobs that will promote the total regional economy. But in this case the two states were involved in a destructive bidding war, one in which someone would win and someone would necessarily lose. The legions of Bronx unemployed would have been the biggest losers if we failed to compete.

The two states are poaching jobs off of each other, a development that hurts us both and drains the public treasury.

But that is the hand we are dealt. If we were to lose FreshDirect, a total of perhaps as many as 3000 jobs would be lost to the city and The Bronx, the most economically challenged county in the state and perhaps in the nation. And as we pointed out in an earlier editorial, these are precisely the type of semiskilled and unskilled jobs that we need here the most.

We believe that the FreshDirect deal immeasurably strengthens our effort to retain the borough’s position as the premier food distribution center of the mid-Atlantic states. The businesses that will surround the new facility also stand to win, as will their employees.

Those who would cavalierly reject the deal would sooner see these workers collect welfare for not working than to see them get good honest jobs that will begin to integrate them into the economy.

If we really want to end this type of unnecessary expenditure, Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg had best sit down with the governors of the surrounding states and negotiate a compact to end this destructive competition. But until that day, our failure to compete, as suggested by the elitists who are critical of this deal, will turn the poorest families in the borough into the real losers of this saga. These armchair socialists are eager to play fast and loose with the jobs of the poorest and most vulnerable among us. They would rather see FreshDirect and its jobs depart, putting the workers at the tender mercies of welfare statism.

But those of us who believe that work and jobs are the fastest route out of poverty, know differently.

Perhaps if the political class will understand that New York is perhaps the least competitive state in the union, with its high taxes and expensive energy, and understand the nature of the region, the workers of our borough may have a chance to once again be part of a dynamic growing economy.

 

Setting the record straight

 

We commend the article in a recent number of the New Yorker Magazine (February 6) that discussed the loss of the Stella D’Oro factory from our borough. A careful reading explodes the myth that corporate greed was the reason for Stella’s departure from The Bronx. Rather, it was a failure of political leadership to protect the workers by telling them what they needed to know, not what they wanted to hear.

It was easy to blame the “corporate” types who were trying to save a great company that was clearly losing money with no hope of turning things around. The problems stemmed from the neglect of Nabsico and its corporate parent Kraft to nurture the company after they acquired it in 1992. By the time Brynwood Partners bought the firm in 2006, it was on a clear path to failure. The inability of labor to adequately appreciate that getting out of the bind that the company was in required sacrifice was, in the end, what did the company in.

Today, Stella D’Oro products are being made in Ohio, not The Bronx. Maybe it didn’t have to be that way.

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