Many of you may have noticed ongoing demonstrations on Roosevelt Island and might have wondered about the reasons behind them. Here’s some context: six of Riverwalk’s nine buildings have already been built with few if any affordable housing units available to the general public. Three Riverwalk buildings are remaining to be built which should include the affordable housing mandate of at least 40% required by the Roosevelt Island General Development Plan. After all these years, construction has finally begun on Riverwalk 7, the first of these with the potential for affordable housing. However, protesters are raising concerns that this construction is being completed by workers who are not being paid a living wage, health benefits, disability benefits, or retirement benefits and who may not have the apprenticeship training and years of on the job experience that they need for construction to be safer for both themselves and the residents of Roosevelt Island.
Hudson Related built the first six buildings using responsible contractors who pay a living wage and proper benefits while respecting the safety of workers and residents. Unfortunately, for the latest project, Hudson Related has hired RNC Industries, LLC. For this construction RNC is paying its employees much less than New York City recognizes as the prevailing wage for construction workers. RNC also isn’t paying for health or disability benefits in case workers are injured on the job. According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the main Federal agency charged with enforcement of safety and health, RNC has a bad safety record:
- OSHA punished RNC in 2007 after a worker fell 38 feet to his death;
- OSHA punished RNC in 2009 as a result unsafe practices at a worksite that led to a fall-related accident;
- OSHA punished RNC in 2012 for unsafe practices at a worksite that led to a fall-related accident; and
- OSHA punished RNC in 2013 for unsafe practices at a worksite that led to a fall-related accident.
At the most recent Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) meeting, Roosevelt Islanders joined me in speaking out to protect our neighborhood. I started my career as a union-side labor attorney and am proud as your Council Member to continue the fight for quality jobs in this city. Please join us in our quest to ensure workers receive a living wage, benefits and the apprenticeship training necessary for safety on construction sites for both workers and Roosevelt Islanders.
If you agree, please consider signing this petition urging Hudson Related to only hire construction companies that pay a living wage with benefits and provide years of on the job training through apprenticeships and therefore have strong safety records. With your voice, our community can ensure the construction of Riverwalk continues to be safe for both workers and Roosevelt Islanders.
Sign the petition!