New York, NY — Related Cos. — the multibillion-dollar development group behind the sprawling Hudson Yards construction project on Manhattan’s West Side is bristling over the introduction of a New York City Council resolution in support of the Building Trades’ #CountMeIn campaign.
“We will not be bullied into entering into an exclusive agreement with a non-union third party, [President] Gary LaBarbera and the BCTC [Building and Construction Trades Council], which has consistently broken its commitments,” Related Executive VP of Corporate Affairs Joanna Rose told LaborPress in an email this week.
On Wednesday, Speaker Corey Johnson, along with numerous other city council members and Public Advocate Tish James, took to the steps of City Hall in support of Council Member Costa Constantinides’ [D-District 22] resolution in support of the Building Trades’ yearlong #CountMeIn campaign against so-called “open shop” development.
Advocates of the new resolution joined #CountMeIn organizers in decrying deep-pocketed developers intent on further eroding the middle class with declining wages and benefits, job protections and safety training.
Related Cos., however, argues that it is, in fact, union friendly — having employed thousands of union workers on Phase I of the Hudson Yards development. The group, headed by billionaire football team owner Stephen Ross, also says it has an agreement with the city’s Carpenters union to work on 50 Hudson Yards.
“As one of the biggest union employers in the City, we have employed nearly 20,000 union members and paid billions in wages and benefits to trade unions at Hudson Yards,” Rose also said. “We fully support union labor and endeavor to work with trades directly and look forward to more partnerships with union trades like the Carpenters on the future phases of Hudson Yards.”
We fully support union labor and endeavor to work with trades directly and look forward to more partnerships with union trades like the Carpenters on the future phases of Hudson Yards. — Related Executive VP of Corporate Affairs Joanna Rose
When asked if Related considers the new City Council resolution in support of the #CountMeIn campaign and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s call to “negotiate in a fair and meaningful way” being bullied, Rose said, “Not at all.”
“Simply stating we are working with and speaking with individual trades, not the BCTC,” Rose said.
BCTC President Gary LaBarbera dismissed both Related’s claims that it supports union labor, as well as the development giant’s “juvenile approach” to the ongoing dispute with the Building Trades.
“Related cannot say that they fully support union labor if they are not willing to fully employ union labor at their job sites,” LaBarbera told LaborPress in an email. “This is exactly the case at 50 Hudson, 55 Hudson and several other projects around the city. These statements are the same washed out talking points used by Joanna Rose and her bullying comments reflect their juvenile approach to this labor dispute.”
Wednesday’s introduction of Council Member Constantinides’ #CountMeIn resolution received the backing of union painters, plumbers, steamfitters, elevator constructors, marble & terrazzo workers, ironworkers, laborers, operating engineers, insulators, sheetmetal workers — and, as Melissa Shetler, director of organizing, Local 46 Metallic Lathers and Reinforcing Ironworkers, said, “on occasion, the Carpenters.”
“We want all workers to have the same benefits as union members,” Shetler said. “And we do that by growing the union — not by killing it.”
Related Cos. sparked the rank & file protest that has grown into the #CountMeIn campaign when it announced, last fall, it would not be entering into a Project Labor Agreement [PLA] with the Building Trades for Phase II of the Hudson Yards project.
On Tuesday, thousands of trade unionists are expected to take part in the largest #CountMeIn demonstration to date, when they march from 50th Street & 6th Avenue to Related Cos. offices at 10 Columbus Circle.