Thursday, April 18, 2013

Building Trades Jeer Rise of Low-Wage Construction Jobs

By Marc Bussanich 

New York, NY—Members of the New York City Building Trades rallied outside the properties of family-owned Reider Holdings and Sam Zell’s Equity Residential on the West Side to protest the developers’ refusal to hire union ironworkers, plumbers and sheet metal workers. (Watch Video)

Kevin Kelly of the Metallic Lathers and Reinforcing Ironworkers Local 46 said that an increasing number of developers building projects throughout the city are paying lower wages to non-union workers.

“Developers like Sam Zell who come to New York are paying their workers far less than what they need to live in New York. The workers I’ve talked to at these sites have said they’re making $15 or $20 an hour but aren’t receiving health care benefits or pension contributions,” said Kelly.

Deanna Gonzalez served in the U.S. Marines overseas in Japan before working as a plumber with United Association Plumbers Local 1 for the past five years. She entered the plumbers’ apprenticeship through the Helmets to Hardhats program, a nonprofit program that connects members of the U.S. Military with training and opportunities in the construction industry. She said she’s grateful for the opportunity to work in the field, but she’s been laid off for the past two weeks.

“I feel proud when I walk down the street and look at the buildings I’ve helped to build, but it’s hard for me to accept that I’m being overlooked because a developer doesn’t want to pay living wages,” said Gonzalez.

Danny Fox, business agent for Sheet Metal Workers Local 28, said sheet metal workers joined the protest because developers are taking advantage of a real estate recovery.

“We’ve been under attack for the past couple of years. With residential and commercial real estate poised for a comeback, developers are pushing into this market and selling units at prices as the union-made product. It’s a very difficult situation and we’re going to have to continue to rally,” said Fox.

Kelly noted that building trades members from a variety of different union locals would continue to protest at other sites being developed by Reider Holdings and Equity Residential.



  2. Let's work for 30% off instead of 20%, makes us more competitive with non union!

  3. This is what you get for not ratifying the contracts. The uncertainty of labor unrest turns a union premium into a union liability, giving the owners a reason to avoid unions.
    Good work- your need for a third car and second boat has finished off another private-sector union industry.

  4. If we want something we better create it. This quote has been well suited to those who are in construction industry. They work so hard but some people just are not aware of how hard they people work.

  5. Developers and construction engineers are being stabbed by the civil engineering companies.Sometimes by breaking the promise to raise the salary or sometime by skipping their bonus.

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  10. work union all trades need to come togerther and demand respect and aliveable wage with good benefits to provide for their food workers need to unionize to get better wages and better protection.more and more people got to stand up and raise their voice.we need to bring back the unions in all factors of the the economy is starting to get better ,each and every member and regular people need to bring a new force for the 21st century to show ,we all need unions to protect us,we need to have a 8 hr. day,better pay,better benefits,and eveyone deserves a good pension.god bless the union,all so bring back the returning vets and put them in the union,we need a fighting front and good middle class jobs for all of us to survive.god bless everyone from one proud union member.

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