New York, NY – The Building Trades’ #CountMeIn campaign against so-called “open shop” development seized the national stage on Thursday night, holding a surprise demonstration during a live broadcast of Fox NFL Thursday Night Football on West 48th Street.
About 40 or so #CountMeIn members outfitted with “Step Down Steve” jerseys and banners renewed their call for Related Cos. founder and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to resign from the NFL’s Racial & Social Justice Committee.
In addition to creating a race to the bottom using cheap nonunion labor at the massive Hudson Yards development on Manhattan’s West Side, trade unionists with the BCTC’s #CountMeIn campaign contend that Ross is guilty of turning a blind eye to racism and sexism on his many other building sites around town.
The Thursday night demonstration did not sit well with Related Cos.
In an email to LaborPress, Executive VP of Corporate Affairs Joanna Rose said, “No amount of malicious name calling or defamatory statements will change the fact that Related is the largest private employer of union construction workers in the city and Gary LaBarbera and the BCTC have failed to live up to their commitments and cost their own union members jobs.”
Rose further called it “ironic” that “Local 79 and the BCTC is attacking Stephen Ross who created and funded a non-profit dedicated to improving race relations.”
“These very same construction unions continue their dismal record of racial and sexual exclusion evidenced by decades of lawsuits that the construction unions continue to lose for their pattern of discriminatory conduct that continues today,” Rose continued. “The BCTC does not create jobs, we do, and we look forward to more partnerships with union trades like the Carpenters on the future phases of Hudson Yards.”
[Related Cos.] like to play the victim, but they started the first round of attacks by suing the Building Trades and Gary LaBarbera and amplifying a public defamation campaign against our reputation. — New York Building Trades spokesperson.
When asked to respond to Rose’s statements, a spokesperson for the Building Trades said that “Related and Joanna Rose continue to rehash long discredited arguments.”
“Related and Joanna Rose continue to rehash long discredited arguments that have already been addressed multiple times,” the Building Trades spokesperson said in an email. “They like to play the victim, but they started the first round of attacks by suing the Building Trades and Gary LaBarbera and amplifying a public defamation campaign against our reputation.”
The Building Trades spokesperson further dismissed Related Cos. As “one of the top recipients of public subsidies” that is eager to subvert the public good for lavish profits.
“As a recent New School study shows, Related is one of the top recipients of public subsidies; yet in an act of ultimate greed, they are using tax payer money to line their own pockets, promote open shop, and undermine unions instead of working for the public good by creating middle-class, higher wage jobs for New Yorkers,” the spokesperson said.
At one point Thursday night, #CountMeIn members shot “Empire of Related” greenbacks high into the air — necessitating a quick clean up from the Fox NFL Thursday Night Football crew.
Fox Sports declined to comment for this story.
Some football fans were not happy about the on-air demonstration. Others expressed ignorance about the stakes involved in the standoff between the Building Trades and Related Cos.
Members of #CountMeIn vowed to return and keep up the fight against so-called “open shop” development.