New York, NY – You’re wrong.
That’s the message thousands of trade unionists marching up 6th Avenue on Tuesday brought to Related Cos. head honcho Stephen Ross’ doorstep at 10 Columbus Circle.
“The [development] industry thinks you’re wrong,” LaBarbera said outside Related’s offices. “The industry is looking down on the fact that you threw the first rock; that you sued the Building Trades; that you sued me; that you went after hardworking men’s and women’s standards.”
This week, marks the first anniversary of the Building Trades year-long #CountMeIn campaign against Related’s decision to pursue a so-called “open shop” model of development using more cheap nonunion labor to build the next phase of the massive Hudson Yards construction project on Manhattan’s West Side.
Despite thousands of rank and file union tradespeople who maintain the so-called “open shop” model of development is a “broken shop” scheme that drives down wages & benefits and creates a race to the bottom — Related Cos. insists that the deal they have reportedly struck with the Carpenters union is, in fact, a “progressive new model” for workers.
“The deal represents millions of guaranteed man hours and several years of years of work on 50 Hudson Yards and the Western Rail Yards for existing NYCDCC professionals, growth opportunity through skills training for apprentice and entry level tradesman, and the potential to increase the NYCDCC membership and allow local New Yorkers to join the union and be a part of building Hudson Yards,” Joanna Rose, Related’s executive VP of Corporate Affairs told LaborPress in an email.
Rose also insisted that Related is “seeking to work with individual trades in a fair and meaningful way on trade labor agreements”, while reiterating the developer’s declaration that it will not be “bullied into entering into an exclusive agreement with a non-union third party, Gary LaBarbera and the BCTC, which has consistently broken its commitments.”
On Tuesday, LaBarbera dismissed Related’s efforts to frame the yearlong battle over the future of Hudson Yards development as a showdown between the developer and any single individual.
“What [Related’s] got to understand is this isn’t a fight between [Related] and me — they’re missing the point,” LaBarbera said. “What’s standing behind me are thousands of my brothers and sisters. So, if you think you’re just taking me on…you’re taking on all of the Building Trades in New York City.”
“What [Related’s] got to understand is this isn’t a fight between [Related] and me — they’re missing the point. What’s standing behind me are thousands of my brothers and sisters. So, if you think you’re just taking me on…you’re taking on all of the Building Trades in New York City. — Gary LaBarbera, president, Building and Construction Trades Council of GNY
Last week, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson endorsed a new resolution supporting the aims and goals of the Building Trades’ #CountMeIn campain.
LaBarbera said that it’s time Related “stop the nonsense — act like adults and get to the bargaining table, so that we can resolve this and get an agreement, so that we can continue to build the buildings that are making you rich.”
“They know what’s happening here,” LaBarbera added. “Our support is only growing and this movement is only growing. Without a settlement, we are not going to stop; we are not going to surrender; and we are certainly not going to retreat.”
Catalina Cruz, winner of the Democratic Primary for District 39’s New York State Assembly seat, told the thousands of trade unionists outside 10 Columbus Circle that they can “count her in” the fight against Related pursuit of so-called “open shop” development, and urged Related to bargain with the BCTC.
“You know why you can count me in — because I didn’t take one dime from developers,” Cruz said. “I’m going to become their worst nightmare because they didn’t buy me — and they can’t buy me. A message to Steve [Ross], a message to Related: you are not going to come after our brothers and sisters in labor and think we’re just going to sit back and not show up at your front door. Get to the bargaining table and do the right thing.”
Already, LaBarbera said, what union tradespeople in New York City have built with the #CountMeIn movement is being replicated in 15 other cities across the nation.
“You are the Building Trades,” LaBarbera said. “The very essence of the building Trades is solidarity. We take care of each other, we watch each other’s backs. But Related wants to break that apart — they’re not breaking anybody apart.”