Friday, March 29, 2013

Union-wages war heats up and threatens City Point project

A fair-wages war over the City Point mega-development in Downtown Brooklyn heated up today when its developer accused the Building and Construction Trades Council of trying to hold up construction by ending negotiations.

“After months of discussing in good faith the terms of a possible Project Labor Agreement, we were disappointed by the Building and Construction Trades Council’s decision to terminate negotiations unilaterally,” Paul Travis, managing partner of project co-developer Washington Square Partners, said in a letter to Gary LaBarbera, president of the BCTC.

“As you know, our agreement with the city requires local, minority and women contracting and employee participation regardless of whether a union contractor is hired. We have made it our priority to meet these obligations. In Phase 1 of City Point, over 50 percent of contract dollars went to such firms. Over 80 percent of the employees were local residents or members of minority groups.

“Unfortunately, the deal the BCTC wanted to make would have put these commitments to our neighbors in jeopardy— this is a point of contention that is not a viable position for the Brooklyn community.”

However, LaBarbera later fired back that his group never broke up negotiations, that Travis' letter was filled with "false" statements and that the developers showed “a lack of character and integrity” by distributing the letter to the media on Good Friday.

“The fact is that the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York did not break off negotiations,” LaBarbera said in a statement. “What we refused to accept is a racist, discriminatory and disgusting offer from the development team that would have effectively agreed to have employees -- except those of minority and women-owned business enterprises -- enjoy the good wages and benefits that come with union representation.

“In effect, the development team asked us to agree that employees of MWBEs be treated as second-class citizens and that the bulk of the development team’s financial concerns be balanced on the backs of the employees of these MWBEs.”

A City Point spokesperson later responded that, "It's unfortunate that BCTC is making inflammatory claims instead of working with us to get an agreement that can keep minority workers on the job while employing the union's members."

Source: NY Post

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