New York, NY – Don’t worry trade unionists fearing the demise of good middle class construction jobs that support families and allow for a dignified retirement — the money men and women behind the mammoth game-changing Hudson Yards development on Manhattan’s West Side have your back.
“There are millions of man hours available on the future phases of Hudson Yards and we have endeavored to work with individual trade unions and contractors that provide good wages, benefit packages, and are committed to complying with safety rules and regulations,” Related Cos. Executive VP of Corporate Affairs Joanna Rose told LaborPress in an email this week.
Rose’s remarks come in the wake of an acrimonious confrontation between Related Cos. Chair Stephen Ross and several #CountMeIn activists that took place during a panel discussion on the future of building in New York City being held inside the Pierre Hotel on Thursday afternoon as part of NYU’s “Annual Conference on Capital Markets in Real Estate.”
For the last year, the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York’s [BCTC] #CountMeIn campaign has been waging a battle against the spread of so-called “open shop” development and the exploitation of cheap nonunion labor, after Related and its partners announced that they would not sign another Project Labor Agreement [PLA] with the Building Trades for Phase II of the Hudson Yards development — the largest private real estate development in U.S. history.
The solidarity that we are witnessing today through the #CountMeIn movement is the result of Related’s self-professed goal of breaking the unity of the trades. — Building and Construction Trades Council
While upwards of 75 trade unionists with the Building Trades’ #CountMeIn campaign rallied outside the hotel at 2 East 61st Street this week, a handful of Building Trades allies stood up one after another inside the glitzy ballroom to challenge Ross on Related Cos.’ hiring practices and workplace conditions as they relate to minorities and women.
In the cranky exchange that followed, Ross attempted to shut down the #CountMeIn activists, telling one man who was black — “try to get a job in the union, they won’t hire you, they won’t allow you to work there,” and touting Related Cos. as the “largest employer of union construction workers in the city”
Rose criticized Thursday’s #CountMeIn challenges as, “just desperate attempts to distract from that fact that we are already moving forward with union partnerships without them.”
“These efforts appear to be about protecting the antiquated and obsolete role of the BCTC who failed to live up to their obligations at Hudson Yards,” Rose added.
Related’s critique of its standoff with the Building Trades is at odds with members of the New York City Council and Speaker Corey Johnson [D-District 3] who, last month, backed a new resolution fully in support of the #CountMeIn campaign.
“Related and Joanna Rose have it all wrong,” a Building Trades spokesperson told LaborPress in an email following the confrontation inside the Pierre. “The BCTC does not manage construction projects. Any of Related’s alleged disappointments with the PLA were self-inflicted by bad management from its own Construction Manager. The solidarity that we are witnessing today through the #CountMeIn movement is the result of Related’s self-professed goal of breaking the unity of the trades. But it is having the opposite effect. We are as united as ever and will continue fighting for as long as it takes for good middle class jobs and safe work sites.”
On October 23, the #CountMeIn campaign put thousands of trade unionists on the streets of New York for a demonstration and march up Sixth Avenue to Related Cos offices at 10 Columbus Circle, marking the movement’s one-year anniversary.