May 6, 2016
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – Organized labor hit the streets around 1 Wall Street on Thursday to protest the 50-story bank building’s residential conversion because the project’s developer doesn’t seem to care about the lives of New York City workers.
Gilbane Inc.’s insistence that its “overriding focus is on constructing quality buildings in New York with a safe and productive and engaged workforce” fell on deaf ears this week as hundreds of tradespeople gathered at Broadway and Exchange Place to instead chant, “Gilbane sucks.”
“They’re looking to break the middle-class in New York City and we won’t let that happen — not on our backs or the next generation,” said Terry Moore, vice-president of the BuildUpNYC coalition for responsible development.
Moore promised to dog Gilbane, Inc. principal William Gilbane III until he “comes on board and does the right thing by the workers of New York City.”
Last week, New York City observed Workers Memorial Day. As many as 17 construction workers lost their lives in 2015 alone. Numerous workers in other industries, too, have had their lives tragically cut short on the job. The Building Trades puts the number of construction workers killed on the job since 2008, at about 140.
Most of the fatalities have occurred on non-union job sites. Efforts to mandate union-level safety training and procedures, however, continue to meet resistance. Last year, DOB Commissioner Rick Chandler told members of the City Council that his agency doesn’t even note if a site is union or non-union when investigating accidents.
The city, meanwhile, is experiencing a building boom in which developers continually turn to the kinds of suspect sub-contractors who have a track record of paying lower wages, offering fewer benefits, and foregoing lifesaving safety standards.