March 7, 2015
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Building Trades’ members leafleted outside The Yale Club opposite Grand Central Terminal on early Friday morning informing passerby about what they say are the cheating ways of affordable housing firms.
According to the Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust (LECET), an association of the Laborers’ International Union of North America and private contractors, the contractors building New York City’s affordable housing stock are exploiting workers and violating state wage laws.
In the accompany video, we interviewed Lenny Anselmo, an organizer with LiUNA! Local 79. He and his fellow tradesmen were giving out hand lotion with the label “NYSAFAH, CLEAN UP YOUR ACT!” to hammer the point home.
“NYSAFAH, which stands for New York State Association for Affordable Housing [a trade association of 300 members including developers, lenders, investors and attorneys], is having a breakfast here this morning and we’re here to disrupt them by letting them know how the building trades feel about not paying a decent wage in New York,” said Anselmo.
The practices of affordable housing firms in the city are an ongoing dilemma for the building trades. The New York Daily News reported in April 2014 that firms building the affordable housing stock are repeatedly caught cheating workers out of wages. According to the story, their track record hasn’t kept them from working on city projects, although they’ve had to pay a total of $11.1 million in back wages in the last three years.
As we were conducting the interview with Anselmo, several building trades’ members cheated out of wages by contractors implored NYSAFAH to pay them what they’re owed.
“We’re out here letting NYSAFAH know that today we’re doing it right. We’re going to ask NYSAFAH to clean up their act, do the right thing and pay us a decent wage. Take that to the bank,” they said.