February 13, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Building service workers with 32BJ SEIU rallied outside TF Cornerstone’s Park Avenue offices to protest what they say is the company’s unwillingness to pay industry-standard wages even though the developer receives public benefits from the city. Video
The union and the developer haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. The developer completed construction on its seven-tower complex on Long Island City’s waterfront last year but the property service workers there are non-union. Recently, the union filed an unfair labor practice against the company for terminating a building worker trying to organize fellow workers.
According to Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President, TF Cornerstone has already received public money for commercial and residential developments around the city. The developer recently attended hearings before the City Planning Commission as it seeks rezoning of a site for a residential project it wants to build on West 57th Street, which would make it the city’s largest residential building.
“This particular company is no stranger to public benefits. They are getting public money; they should work with 32BJ and have a prevailing wage. That’s why I’m here,” said Brewer.
In an interview, 32BJ’s secretary-treasurer, Kyle Bragg, said the union was protesting because it isn’t happy about the company trying to undermine decades of decent pay and benefit standards for the city’s property service workers while at the same time benefiting from taxpayer dollars to facilitate development.
“What we ask is that when any developer utilizes tax incentives to build in the city, that money [shouldn’t] go [towards] jobs that don’t provide living wage and health benefits,” said Bragg.