"Everyone's mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore," says union official
|Union members demonstrate at City Point site.|
Unions and community groups that have charged City Point developers with paying poverty-level wages headed to court Wednesday to try to halt construction at the mega-project.
Their suit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court against city officials and developers asks that work at the downtown Brooklyn development be stopped and a new study done of the impact of construction workers’ low wages on the economy in nearby neighborhoods.
“Everyone’s mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore,” said Richard O’Kane of Ironworkers Local 361, one of the unions suing Mayor Bloomberg, city housing agencies, Acadia Realty Trust and other real estate firms.
Workers are being paid $15 per hour with no benefits at the 1.9 million-square-foot project at DeKalb and Flatbush Aves. which includes 650,000 square feet of shops and 650 apartments, the suit alleges.
At that rate, advocates calculated, a “fully employed worker” would work 1,500 hours and gross an annual $22,500, below the poverty level for a family of four.
Prevailing wages for construction workers citywide are more than double that rate and come with health insurance and other benefits. Laborers, for example, get $38.70 per hour in wages and an additional $31.75 in benefits, court documents said.
City Point developers declined to comment on the suit.
An October 2012 letter from Acadia Realty Trust’s general counsel Robert Masters called the unions’ and advocates’ previous demands that the company pay prevailing wages “an attempt to coerce us to change our practices [that is] unwarranted based on our conduct and beliefs.”
A spokeswoman for the city Law Department said the city had not been served with the suit.
The city owns the City Point site which it has leased to developers for 99 years and provided more than $20 million in taxpayer-funded bonds.
The unions first made their demands for a halt to City Point construction in March with a letter to Deputy Mayor Robert Steel, who is also targeted in the suit.
Two local pols joined the unions in their suit.
“The City Point project is being built on public land and financed through a tremendous amount of public funds,” said state Assemblyman Walter Mosley (D-Fort Greene), “yet its developers are blatantly reneging on promises made and disregarding the most basic needs of the hardworking New Yorkers that make this project possible.”
City Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Fort Greene) called on the city to ensure prevailing wages are paid at all mega-projects.
Source: NY Daily News